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Vernacular Rabbis: Musar, Translation, and the Making of Ladino Modernity

  • Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies 1140 Amsterdam Avenue, 617 Kent Hall New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

This lecture explores the paradox how a traditional genre of Jewish literature--musar, often rendered as "ethical writings" in English--became a vehicle for the dissemination of modern ideas in the course of the "long" nineteenth century. Focusing on the example of Judeo-Spanish writings from the Balkans, the talk discusses the intersection of gender and nationalism in Ladino musar literature. It does so through a close reading of Zemach Rabbiner's "The Jewish Mothers in the Biblical Period," a Judeo-Spanish work published in Constantinople on the eve of the First World War.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Prof. Matthias Lehmann is the Teller Family Chair in Jewish History and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History and the Center for Jewish Studies at UC Irvine.