(All art work on this blog is copyrighted.)
Perhaps Sephardic parents would ask, “Why should I pay for my child to learn Ladino?”
The reasons are many, even if one discounts Ladino central role in what it actually means to have be part of a authentic Sephardic culture that goes beyond “Love me, I’m Sephardic” T-sihirts.
Put that main reason aside and move on to the benefits of your child speaking Ladino.
1. Perhaps you might consider how fluency in Ladino would look on a college application. Foreign language skills are always highly valued. But to speak a medieval language would outstrip French and Spanish. It would stand out.
2. Speaking Ladino allows one to converse in Spanish, so it doesn’t isolate the speaker because the language is special. Far from being a language that make it hard to speak to others, the entire Spanish speaking world would understand, and any Spanish speaker would be curious and interested. Ladino open even more doors than Spanish, to meeting others.
3. Speaking another language is good for thinking in general, for learning in general. And if one is going to learn another language, why not study one’s own language?
4. For parents, there would be satisfaction of knowing and telling friends and family, “My child is learning Ladino.” It would not only be an accomplishment of the child’s but one of the culture.
5. The children who learn Ladino automatically would have their own language between themselves and their Ladino speaking peers, which becomes a bond. And that bond is contributes to bonding a future Sephardic community.
6. Learning Ladino would educate a Sephardic child in the basics of their own culture – with their simultaneously learning history about themselves and other places Sephardic Jews have lived,, picking up wisdom about living a good life, becoming imbued with the humor in the language, and altogether widening their world even as they become more closely connected to their own – truly their own – culture.
7. Learning Ladino presents future job possibilities, since interest in unique cultures is growing.
8. Ladino classes are already happening and the demand will spread. Those who speak it will be in a wonderful position to teach it.
9. Your children will thank you for the special gift you gave them.
10. There would be many other reasons, but to culminate this list with a number, there is the undeniable fact that speaking Ladino – not to put too fine an English a spin on it – is simply “cool.” It’s reason for pride.
The next question might be how this can happen. A future post will discuss the possibilities and ease of implementation.