On collating hundreds of years worth of cultural history.
Some six years ago, we began a collaboration with little idea that it would last so long, or yield such rich fruit. Our collaboration was motivated by a single realization: the bulk of sources by and about the Jewish communities we had dedicated our lives to studying remained inaccessible, to specialists, students and lay readers. Most had never been translated into English, republished (in the case of published works), or (in the case of archival sources) published in any form.
Our goal was to amass a corpus of sources that reflected Sephardi history in all its diversity.
The communities in question were modern Sephardi Jews—descendants of Jews who fled medieval Iberia (modern-day Spain and Portugal) following their expulsion in 1492 and settled in the western portions of the Ottoman Empire, including the Balkans, Anatolia, and Palestine. For over four-and-a-half centuries these communities continued to speak and write in their own Judeo-Spanish language, Ladino, an Ibero-Romance language grammatically similar to fifteenth-century Castilian Spanish but encompassing loan words from other Romance languages as well as from Hebrew, Aramaic, and other languages that Sephardim encountered in their new homes, such as Turkish, Greek, and South Slavic languages.