Perserving Ladino

Reviving Ladino

More than 500 years after expelling Jews from the country, Spain is officially recognizing Ladino as a Spanish language in the hope of saving it from extinction.


Ladino, also known as Judeo-Spanish, was preserved by Spanish Jews following their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Shmuel Rafael, director of Bar-Ilan University’s Salti Center for Ladino Studies stated that “It was the main tool for creating, disseminating and preserving the spoken and written culture of the Spanish Jews." Also that Spain’s decision has been reached from the knowledge that Ladino is a Spanish language in the same way as are Portuguese, Catalan, Basque and the Spanish dialects are Spanish. 

At a conference last week at the Royal Spanish Academy in Madrid, officials announced the establishment of a new Ladino academy to be located in Israel that would put together a historical dictionary of Ladino. With Ladino becoming an official language, Spain will be able to add Ladino words and phrases to its popular online historical dictionary, for the benefit of the world’s 500 million Spanish speakers.

In Israel, Ladino can be studied at Bar-Ilan University, Ben-Gurion University and Hebrew University. The new academy will aim to act as “a crossroads for a vast amount of scholarships,” Rafael stated. “This is a very important moment, a historic moment,” Professor Tamar Alexander, chairwoman of the Ladino authority and a scholar of Spanish-Jewish culture, told the Madrid conference. The new academy is considering to operate out of the Yitzhak Navon heritage center.

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