Salti Center for Ladino Studies Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Naime and Yeoshua Salti

— by Selim Amado

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Naime and Yeoshua Salti Center for Ladino Studies at Bar Ilan University in Israel. Founded by the Turkish-born couple whose name it bears, the Center has made its mark in the world for its dedication to the diffusion, teaching, and advancement of scientific research in the field of the Judeo-Spanish language and Sephardic culture. Since its foundation in 2003, the Center has been headed by Professor Shmuel Refael, who ably directs the processes of instruction, orientation, and training of the students. Ester Metzger and Liora Hagüel are in charge of the administration and logistical direction of the Center.

More after the jump.
The Center operates in several ways:

  • It promotes the participation of students in academic courses and in extracurricular activities aimed at Ladino speakers in the community, such as the bimonthly meetings of the series La Biblia en ladino (The Bible in Ladino);
  • It sponsors national seminars such as the popular Maraton de Ladino (Ladino Marathon) as well as international conferences such as the 17th Conference on Judeo-Spanish Studies held last summer in the campus of Bar Ilan University.
  • It Center fosters the participation of students and researchers in seminars and academic exchange activities, and contributes to academic publications in Israel and abroad.
  • It is an institution that opens its doors to students and researchers from around the world, offering to them its expertise and its facilities.

The Center has already granted twelve Masters (MA) degrees and eight doctorates (PhDs), and in this school year has seven doctoral students and eight others pursuing advanced degrees.

Thanks to its ten years of work, the Center is recognized worldwide for its faculty and students, for its rich library and the high quality of its research published in the best journals and in the Center’s own publication, the magazine Ladinar. In a few months volume number seven of Ladinar will come to light, summarizing presentations made in London in the 16th British Conference on Judeo-Spanish Studies, a conference organized and sponsored by Queen Mary University in conjunction with the Salti Center.

The faculty is involved in the following academic areas of research:

  • Dr. Nina Pinto — folklore, humor, and Haquetía;
  • Dr. Nivi Gomel — teaching the language, rhetoric, and translation of texts;
  • Dr. Susy Gruss — modern literature;
  • Dr. Dov Cohen — traditional and religious literature.
  • Ms. Sandra Katz teaches Spanish to students in advanced studies.

The Center currently houses numerous research projects, among which is that of Dr. Cohen and Mr. Nisim Caridi who have recently completed digitizing the records of the library’s holdings. The reference library has about 2500 titles, among which are six hundred rare old books, Judeo-Spanish newspaper collections, journals, monographs, dissertations and theses.

The Center has supported the publication of the following titles, all dealing with the investigation of Sephardic culture:

  • Ora (Rodrigue) Schawarzwald, Sidur para mujeres en Ladino (Prayer book for Women in Ladino);
  • Elena Romero, Estudios sefardíes dedicados a la memoria de Iacob M. Hassán (Sephardic Studies dedicated to the Memory of Iacob M. Hassan);
  • Michal Held, Ven te kontare (Come, Let Me Tell You);
  • Shmuel Refael, Un grito en el silencio (A Scream in the Silence.)

The Center’s website, which is regularly updated, offers news about the Center’s activities, invitations to events, information for students, and a registration form for an online mailing list.

The Center is highly regarded in academic circles in Israel and the world for its important function in the preservation and understanding of Sephardic Culture through research and the teaching of Ladino (or Judeo Spanish) as a heritage for future generations.  


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