Ladino Music Today as a Tool of Storytelling and Preservation

Curated by Laurel Comiter, Gabriel Mordoch, and Gabriel Duque


Expelled from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497, the Sephardic Jews took with them their unique language called Ladino, also refered to as Judeo-Spanish, Judesmo, or Sephardi. Today, this language is a combination of archaic form of Castilian Spanish that contains elements of Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Turkish, Greek, French, Portuguese, Bulgarian, and Italian. The population of Ladino speakers is so small that Ladino is a UNESCO endangered language. Although few people today speak Ladino, the importance of the language to the Sephardic culture is apparent in the preservation of the music since the time of the expulsion. Artists like Flory Jagoda, Alberto Hemsi, and Judy Frankel are just a few of the artists who dedicated their lives to preserving the oral traditions of the Sephardic communities by writing down and recording their songs and stories.