I made myself a promise in 1992.
In March of that year I was invited by the Government of Spain to cover the commemorations of the 500 years of the expulsion of the Jews from that country, along with other American journalists.
The trip gave me the opportunity to visit Madrid, Besalú, Barcelona and Girona, cities with a glorious Jewish past. It was also a discovery, an encounter with a culture I had read about and had some contact with but only through books and Ladino music.
On March 31, 1992, 500 years to the date the Jews were expelled from Spain, I attended the main ceremony of the commemorations, held at the Bet Yakov Synagogue in Madrid, with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía presiding. Several ministers of the Spanish government sat alongside the king, who wore a white kipah, and the queen.
In attendance were also the then-president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, and representatives of Spanish communities such as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Ceuta, as well as Sefardic rabbis from all over the world.
The Ladino blessing bestowed upon the king by Rabbi Abraham Gaon of Yeshiva University of New York City moved some to tears—the descendant of one of the expelled was addressing the king of the country that expelled his ancestors in the language they kept in the lands of their wanderings.
After that trip, the product of which were several articles and photographs published in newspapers and magazines both in the United States and overseas (some can be found in the Archives of this site), I made myself a promise: to publicize the culture and accomplishments of Sefardic Jews.
Sefardim were the main topic of conversation in most Jewish communities in 1992. American Jewish publications, from the smallest to the largest, wrote about them. Jewish organizations held symposia, held concerts of Sefardic music, and featured scholars. But they faded into obscurity once the quincentennial was over.
Jewish media, both in Israel and the United States, have neglected the culture and the accomplishments of the Sefardim. Articles of Sefardic interest are few and far between.
Kolsefardim is a response to that neglect and a fulfillment of the promise. We intend to feature news of the Sefardic world, as well as cultural trends and the people who move Sefardic culture forward.
Kolsefardim.net is written and edited by Daniel Santacruz, a journalist living in Maale Adumim, Israel, with many years of experience editing Jewish and non-Jewish publications in the United States. We are not affiliated with any organization or political party. Your suggestions for articles and feedback are greatly appreciated.
Mersi muncho to my son Noah Salomón for his technical expertise.
Photo: Balcony in Ohel Moshe, a neighborhood in Jerusalem built by Moshe Montefiore in 1860. Most of the residents spoke Ladino. Credit: Daniel Santacruz.