“Reading Ladino/Judezmo” Summer Skills Seminar

The Mediterranean Seminar/CU Mediterranean Studies Group 2nd Annual Summer Skills Seminar on “Reading Ladino/Judezmo” took place from 22–26 May, 2017 at CU Boulder, under the direction of Prof. David Bunis (Linguistics: Hebrew University), a leading authority on Ladino/Judezmo literature.

Participants who opted for accommodation were housed in cabins at Chautauqua Historical Park in Boulder

The Seminar will began with an introductory symposium, “The Language of Exile: Hispano-Jewish Culture Before and After 1492,” featuring Brian A. Catlos (Religious Studies: CU Boulder), Janet Jacobs (Anthropology & Women’s Studies: CU Boulder), and David Bunis (Linguistics: Hebrew University). This public event was held at 6:30pm at the Grand Assembly Hall of the Chautauqua Historical Park in Boulder, with approximately 75 members of the university and Boulder community attending.

The Skills Seminar sessions took place from Tuesday, 23 May to Friday, 26 May from 10am to 3pm on the CU campus at BESC 380 (Benson Earth Sciences). The Skills Seminarconcluded with a dinner/reception/graduation party at the Catlos-Silleras residence in neighbouring Louisville.

Course Outline
Judezmo in Square (Mĕruba‘) Hebrew Letters
1.1Introduction to Judezmo (Ladino), its historical phases and its writing systems
1.2The graphemes of Judezmo by historical phase: Old Judezmo, Middle Judezmo, Modern Judezmo
1.3Grapheme identification and writing exercise
1.4Reading and analysis of representative texts in Old Judezmo, Middle Judezmo, Modern Judezmo
Judezmo [and Sephardic Hebrew] in the printed Rashí font

2.1Grapheme identification and writing exercise
2.2 Reading and analysis of representative texts in Old Judezmo, Middle Judezmo, Modern Judezmo
Judezmo [and Sephardic Hebrew] in the formal manuscript Rashí script

3.1Grapheme identification and writing exercise
3.2Reading and analysis of representative texts in Old Judezmo, Middle Judezmo, Modern Judezmo
Judezmo [and Sephardic Hebrew] in soletreo / ḥaṣi qolmos cursive script

4.1Grapheme identification and writing exercise
4.2Reading and analysis of representative texts in Old Judezmo, Middle Judezmo, Modern Judezmo
4.3Closing remarks; sources for further study

Prepatory Materials
Prof. Bunisprovided the following material:
A Guide to Reading & Writing Judezmo
Jewish and Muslim Iber-Romance in the Iberian Peninsula & Beyond
The Historical Development of Judezmo Orthography: A Brief Sketch
Writing as a National-Ethnic Symbol (in Hebrew)
Also of interest:
Learn Hebrew Writing #1 - Hebrew Alphabet Made Easy: Alef and Beit
Judaism 101: The Hebrew Alphabet
How To Learn The Hebrew Alphabet in Under 1 Hour

Participants who attend the entire coursereceived a certificate/diploma of completion.

Looking towards the Flatirons: Prof. David Bunis, with Summer Skills Seminar participants (photo: Meghan Zibbey)

Looking towards the Flatirons: Prof. David Bunis, with Summer Skills Seminar participants (photo: Meghan Zibbey)


Registered Participants
• Kaleb Adney (UCLA)
• Jeffrey Baron (U Colorado Boulder)
• Keith Budner (UC Berkeley)
• Brian Catlos (University of Colorado Boulder)
• Gabriela Cerghedean (Beloit College)
• Max Daniel (UCLA)
• Jacob Daniels (Stanford University)
• Evelyn Dean-Olmsted (Universidad de Puerto Rico)
• Matthew Dudley (Yale University)
• Erica Feild (NYU)
• Michal Friedman (Columbia University)
• Allyson Gonzalez (Florida State University)
• Shon Hopkin (Brigham Young University)
• Harry Kashdan (University of Michigan)
• Fredrick Lorenz (UCLA)
• Veronica Menaldi (University of Minnesota)
• Sol Miguel-Prendes (Wake Forest University)
• Hannah Pressman (University of Washington)
• Rachel Richman (Ohio State University)
• Simone Salmon (UCLA)
• Nuria Silleras-Fernandez (University of Colorado Boulder)
• Dillon Webster (University of Colorado Boulder)
• Jessica Weiss (Metro State University Denver)

Praise for the program:
"An incredible week of enrichment! "

"This was an invaluable opportunity for professional development and networking, especially for me as a tenure-track faculty. I not only got to meet colleagues from around the country, but I also learned a lot about CU and its strong presence in Mediterranean Studies and Jewish Studies. "

"Participation in this course has enabled me to work with new research materials. It was a wonderful experience."

"An incredibly valuable and unique learning environment in that it brings together scholars from different institutions, disciplines and ranks to study with a leading expert in the field, and engage with each other over the course of the week. This kind of truly interdisciplinary and non-hierarchical setting is rare in academia--despite all of the talk about interdisciplinarity--and should be fostered and encouraged, as it precisely this kind of academic experience and environment that proves the most fruitful for scholars of all ranks to learn and engage each other. "

"This seminar provided an excellent format for working through a number of texts, several of which would have been difficult -- if not impossible - to have worked out alone. There was also a genuine variety of scholars included in the group, which allowed for deeper conversations, as well as for richer interpretations of texts. This kind of seminar seems a rarity, a real gem, and one that (I thought) nicely highlighted the kind of scholarship that is taking place at Boulder, and elsewhere."

"One of the most enriching experiences of my graduate career."

"The seminar offered a superb mix of practical skill training—I am amazed at how fast I learned to read Judezmo—and cultural context, combined with lively discussion. Professor Bunis’s knowledge and expertise was remarkable; he was able to teach at many different levels. He was approachable and extremely helpful. I also learned a lot from interacting with other participants of very different backgrounds. A great learning experience; I highly recommend it.

The Summer Skills Seminar was organized and directed by Prof. Brian A. Catlos, Religious Studies: University of Colorado at Boulder. Logistics were handled by Jeffrey Baron (Program Co-ordinator, Mediterranean Seminar/CU Mediterranean Studies Group) with additional assistance from Dillon Webster.
Administrative support was provided by the Department of Religious Studies, with additional support from the Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, and an grant from the University of Colorado Presidents Fund for Humanities.

Proposals for future Skills Seminars are welcome and should be addressed to brian.catlos@colorado.edu.