Finalist, Sephardic Culture category in the 2012 National Jewish Book Awards, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council.
This book presents for the first time the complete text of the earliest known Ladino-language memoir, transliterated from the original script, translated into English, and introduced and explicated by the editors. The memoirist, Sa'adi Besalel a-Levi (1820–1903), wrote about Ottoman Jews' daily life at a time when the finely wrought fabric of Ottoman society was just beginning to unravel. His vivid portrayal of life in Salonica, a major port in the Ottoman Levant with a majority Jewish population, thus provides a unique window into a way of life before it disappeared as a result of profound political and social changes and the World Wars. Sa'adi was a prominent journalist and publisher, one of the most significant creators of modern Sephardic print culture. He was also a rebel who accused the Jewish leadership of Salonica of being corrupt, abusive, and fanatical; that leadership, in turn, excommunicated him from the Jewish community. The experience of excommunication pervades Sa'adi's memoir, which documents a world that its author was himself actively involved in changing.
About the author
At Stanford University, Aron Rodrigue is Charles Michael Professor in Jewish History and Culture, Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities, and Director of the Stanford Humanities Center. Sarah Abrevaya Stein is Professor of History and Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies at UCLA.