Leah gave this paper

Leah Davcheva and Richard Fay — “Snatches of Spain in the stories of Sephardim in Bulgaria”, paper presented at the 1st Global Erensya Platform Summit, Bulgaria, 19th -21st September 2011 (link now takes you to a general website rather than the summit website, SD). ppt

… on Monday to a particularly special (given our topic) audience in which diverse parts of the Sephardic diaspora were represented. There 60 participants from Spain, Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Macedonia, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Canada, Bulgaria. They had gathered to look at the links between the Sephardic communities globally and the support that Spain offers to preserve their heritage for the generations to come. I have added the ppt to the list of accumulation publications also. I think Leah will add her reflections on the experience shortly …..

Leah: Now that this presentation has been already delivered and the response was definitely positive, it seems that anchoring the presentation in the thematic content of our research project was the right thing to do. The audience did indeed want to know what our insights were with regard to the Ladino enabled experiences of the Bulgarian Sephardic Jews. Understandably, we had filtered those through the lens of the Erensya goal and highlighted those experiences of the Sephardim in Bulgaria which related to the Sephardic diaspora, Spain, the Spanish language, and the global community of Spanish speakers.

The title – Snatches of Spain – grabbed them all right from the start and there were many who appreciated its resonance with Miles Davies’ Sketches of Spain. I was happy to see that the six themes which we chose to scaffold our presentation, namely:

  • Naming the language
  • Spanish – Ladino interaction
  • Felt links with Spanish speakers globally
  • Participation  in / identification with Sephardic diaspora
  • Felt links with Spain
  • Participation in Ladino / Sephardic revival activities

provided an accessible, yet curiosity provoking entry to the field Richard and I are still researching. There were nods of agreement, but also a couple of raised eye-brows at some of the quotes from the stories.

All in all, I am delighted that we made that particular outing. We owed it to our participants in the first place, and the Sephardic community as a whole, but also we managed to get some journals and research centres interested in it.


  • Magda Rostron

    Hi Leah and Richard,

    I have just looked at your Erensya ppt and it’s absolutely fascinating. I wonder how many people still speak Ladino in the Balkans and elsewhere. More than Yiddish? I also wonder about cultural/historical parallels between Ladino and Yiddish, the language of Eastern European Jews, including our Polish Jews, of course. From my Israeli friends, I have heard about divisions between Sephardim and Ashkenazim in Israel and how both languages, Ladino and Yiddish, are disappearing, pushed out by modernised Hebrew. What a great topic to research. I wish I could have been present at your presentation!

    Best wishes,

  • Richard Fay

    Many thanks for this Leah