Collage: Leaving the Greek Islands
(Art work on this blog is copyrighted.)
Where to begin?
My grandmother spoke Ladino. I couldn’t. But my heart has been filled with it all my life.
It was the sound filling the kitchen as boyos were being made.
It was the sound as women at the synagogue pinched the children’s cheeks and smiled such delighted smiles.
It was the sound of the men talking among themselves in the back rows as services were going on in the front.
It was the sound of approving comments murmured by the congregation as each family came into services with their children.
It was a sound that for me is inseparably connected to love.
I feel worried – not that Ladino can’t be saved because it can be – that this community might throw up its hands in fatalism. Or worse, most of the community might, in apathy, not even bother to throw up its hands at all and just let Ladino die out. At that point, the Sephardic community would lose its connection to its past and more seriously, to the very heart of its own culture.
That past, that culture, and immeasurable love – even humor – are embedded in Ladino like golden threads woven into a tapestry.
If we no longer treasure what we were given by our parents, grandparents and ancestors, what do we treasure?
If we can’t understand that a language is the soul of a diaspora community, what happens to that soul?
If we let go of so much, what is being lost? What is being left?
If we could see the the size of the loss, would we care?