Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fond Thoughts of Ladino /Wall Street Crisis : Pelosi Passes the Buck in Record Time

One of the most beautiful things about Israel is to see communities transplanted from the exile to the Holy Hand flourishing in natural surroundings. An Israeli singer to whom I am very grateful is Yehoram Gaon. Born in 1939 to a Jerusalem Sephardi family, he is famous for his career in film and on Israeli television.

I am most grateful to Gaon for his popularisation of music in Ladino. Back in the 70's, he put out an album called "Canticos Del Pesah or "Songs of Passover". On this album he performs songs which are traditionally sung by Sephardim during Passover. Because I did not grow up with any Jewish music at all, this album was important for me in connecting to my Jewish roots.

Ladino is a Jewish dialect of Spanish written with Hebrew letters. It was a major spoken language in the Jewish world , particularly in the city of Salonika. The holocaust took a heavy toll on Sephardic Jewry. 90% of Greek Jews were killed during the war. Since Salonika was under direct German occupation for much of the war, the extermination efforts of the Germans were particularly effective in Salonika. The casualties were not only of individuals and families but also the Ladino language. Although Ladino still is spoken by some, it faces a more difficult struggle even than Yiddish to survive in some form.

English speaking Jews owe a debt of gratitude to the Sephardic world for Meam Loez, an anthology of commentaries on the Torah and the Prophets that was originally written in Ladino to facilitate the reintegration of conversos, those forcibly converted in Spain to Christianity. Today the multi volumed work lives on in English translation in many Jewish homes, performing the same role it once did in Ladino of reviving the knowledge and observance of Judaism.

Israel as a Jewish state and society, offers many resources to propagate the survival of Ladino, Yiddish and other languages of the exile. The songs with this posting are examples of the role popular culture can play in the survival of endangered languages. I hope my readers will enjoy these songs as much as I do. One is "Un Cavritico" or "One Little Goat" a traditional Passover song performed by Yehoram Gaon. The other is "Adio Kerida" or "Goodbye My Beloved".

Yehoram Gaon "Un Cavritico"

Adio Kerida


Wall Street Crisis : Pelosi Passes the Buck in Record Time

Nancy Pelosi pleads innocent on stock crash

In record time and ahead of all economic experts, Nancy Pelosi has declared the Democrats to be innocent of all guilt in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and all of the attending stock market turbulence.

When asked if the Democrats bore any responsibility for the difficulties on Wall Street , Ms. Pelosi was clear and succinct. “No,” She stated flatly. She was dismissive as well of the stalemate between President Bush and Congress that has effectively stalled any coordinated action.

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