Brief Synopsis - Our trip to Spain!

Old Nov 6th, 2015, 12:10 PM
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Nelson - How did you know your ancestors came from Cazorla after having left it so long ago, going to Macedonia, and then to the States ? Part of your family's lore or what ? I found my paternal grandfather's village in E. Europe but he left there recently, end of the 19th century. My husband came across some Ladino speakers in southern Turkey in '64, and I have some Ladino music on tape.
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Old Nov 6th, 2015, 02:17 PM
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great report, Nelson- thanks for taking the trouble to post it.
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Old Nov 7th, 2015, 07:03 AM
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You're welcome annhig, and thanks again for Hotel Guadalupe recommendation, in case you missed your name as the credits scrolled by above. It worked out perfectly for us.

Bedar, as a young kid I knew my mom's ancestors had left Spain and moved to somewhere near the Serbian / Turkish border (i.e. The Ottoman Empire) before coming to America. That was family lore and discussed at family gatherings.

Then in the early days of Internet popularity a distant cousin of mine, who I didn't know, did a lot of research and created a web page. The page has has not been maintained for a decade but here it is:

There are several family trees pages, but this one is mine:

If you have any interest and search the page I'm the second "Nelson". My mom was Ruth.

(I have a cousin named Nelson, coincidentally born on the same day as me and we were both named for my grandfather. The custom of naming children after ancestors goes back a ways, which they did often in Spain as you know. I'm reading a book about Isabella right now - highly recommended by the way: "Isabella The Warrier Queen" - hence the confusing list of Alfonsos, Isabels, Juanas, Felipes, etc...)

Regarding Ladino my mom was born in New York in the '20's and still spoke some, she was partially bilingual. But as I grew up in the early '50's she never spoke it to me. We were Americanized by then and speaking English was all that was important. Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, and Pee Wee Reese are what mattered!

I see amazon has about 100 Ladino CD discs, I should get one ...
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Old Nov 7th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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You're welcome annhig, and thanks again for Hotel Guadalupe recommendation, in case you missed your name as the credits scrolled by above. It worked out perfectly for us.>>

my pleasure, nelson. it probably wouldn't work for a visitor to Granada who wasn't focussed on the Alhambra but for those of who are, I think that it's a good choice, and I'm pleased that it worked out well for you too.

to my shame I had never heard of Ladino - is it spoken by anyone now as a first language?
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Old Nov 7th, 2015, 12:59 PM
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<i>> to my shame I had never heard of Ladino - is it spoken by anyone now as a first language?</i>

It's pretty obscure so I wouldn't expect many people to know of it. In fact I considered what my grandparents spoke to be simply Spanish until later in life when I heard it referred to by an aunt as Ladino.

I didn't know the answer to your question without a search, and came up with this. The answer seems to be "no".
<i>"Israel is now the country with the greatest number of Ladino speakers, with about 200,000 people who still speak or understand the language, but even they only know a very limited and basic Ladino. </i>

A more complete story is here:
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Old Nov 8th, 2015, 02:42 PM
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Nelson - I found the Ladino music on CDs at my local library and downloaded them onto tape. On the internet we listened to some Ladino speakers and could understand most of it.
Those family trees and the other information are absolutely fascinating ! So, your mother's maiden name is Cassorla. No wonder you knew which village to visit. I still haven't finished reading and digesting all the info (have vision problems), but it certainly makes me want to visit Cazorla. Have been to Baeza and Ubeda, so that would be something new.
Now you probably know that you are entitled to Spanish citizenship. With your family trees and what can be found in the village and province archives in Jaen, you are a shoe-in. Whether you'd want to have citizenship in a country that expelled your ancestors is another matter, but it could be fun. My husband has an Irish passport which derives from his grandfather's birth there as do I thru my marriage to him. Sentimental, yes, but we thought they would come in handy id we wanted to return to Europe. Irish or Spanish passports = EU membership. Something to think about while having a Hendrick's !!
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Old Nov 8th, 2015, 03:54 PM
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The ladino connection is fascinating, thanks Nelson. There are bits and pieces of Latin-based languages still tucked away in various places. Romansh in Switzerland is another one. I wonder how many there are? An obvious candidate for a Europe theme trip....
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Old Nov 8th, 2015, 10:48 PM
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So interesting to see what took you to this part of Spain , 1492 - the year people were "invited" to go elsewhere, very droll!

We too love Jaen Province and thought it was certainly somewhere we'd love to revisit. I entirely agree about it being poised for greater recognition. We were there in March so it was very quiet. We stayed at the Parador in Ubeda and thought the town had so much to offer.

In case anyone is interested as to why we're all raving about it here are some photos.

We agree, Baeza was also lovely, we saw it in the quiet march sunshine.

Cazorla sounds interesting too, how wonderful to have a reason to visit.

There is of course quite a bit of interesting Jewish history in these areas, between the mikva in Ubeda and the Jewish quarter in Cordoba.

Thanks for reminding me how much we enjoyed that part of the trip.
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Old Nov 9th, 2015, 08:03 AM
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Bedar, I just checked my local library online catalog and come up with essentially a blank for Ladino. Had I been thinking I could have easily searched it out in Spain.

... but perhaps I did! We brought back this disk:

She says, according to Google (sorry I have to use it), "Ancient Mediterranean melodies mingle with theirs in songs full of nostalgia and spirituality that are narrated in Judeo-Spanish, the language of the Sephardim who was born in medieval Spain."

Her husband was giving a street performance in front of the Toledo cathedral on an old instrument, like an older version of a lute. He told my wife its name, but I don't remember. Anyway, his music stopped us in our tracks and we listened for a while, then bought that disk from him. He recommended that as the one most like what he was playing.

I did know I'm eligible for Spanish citizenship. It's an interesting thought, but I hadn't planned on pursuing it. But who knows? Might be fun to look into ... and yesterday I did buy my first bottle of Hendrick's, and now have one at home!

EYWandBTV, a new Europe theme trip ideas, search out old languages. The thought crossed my mind that I should add Monastir, Macedonia to my list, the other town related to my mom's ancestry. (Don't know that much about my dad's side, other tan they came from Russia to the US in the 1880's.)

welltravelledbrit, Thanks for your comments and links to your blog. If I didn't thank you before the trip, then let me do so know. I most definitely looked at your blog before we left and it was a factor in our decision to stop in Ubeda. I've spent time surfing your blog as well, it's excellent.

And as you say "So Much More To See". We barely scratched the surface of that region, both in the towns themselves and in the surrounding region. I'd love to spend some time hanging out in Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla, we didn't even really get into the park at all. The Cazorla Parador is an option, and there are lots of Casa Rural hotels scattered about.
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Old Nov 9th, 2015, 08:58 AM
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WTB, thank you for the links to your photos of Jaen province. Cordoba is still on our list of places to visit, and it looks as if it would link well with Ubeda, Cazorla and Baeza. As of March they are going to be running flights from our very local airport [Newquay] to Spain again, and I can feel another trip to Malaga coming on.

I love paradors too and I'd forgotten about the over 55 discount.

Nelson - thanks for setting off this most interesting discussion!
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Old Nov 9th, 2015, 11:09 AM
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Nelson, et alanyone interested in the subject)

Posted below, is perhaps the best,brief Ladino information available. Living in Los Angeles, one of the larger Sephardic communties in America, I have heard Ladino spoken, chanted and sung for over the 50+ years I have lived here. I have had periodic contact with the community even though I am 100%, 1st Generation Russian/Ashkenaz, and a fluent Yiddish-speaker, along with my late wife.

I recently needed some in-depth Sephardic history for one of my books, and the local community came through royally in my interviews. My protagonist meandered through the Sephardic Balkans and other parts of 19th century Eastern Europe and I try very hard for authenticity in both my historical fiction and non-fiction.

Nelson, also lived in your Colorado many years ago.
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Old Nov 9th, 2015, 01:43 PM
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annhig, ladino is experiencing some what of a revival, as is Yiddish, it's ashkenazi cousin. It is quite a beautiful language.

Very wonderful trip report, thank you Nelson.
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Old Nov 9th, 2015, 03:01 PM
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Nelson, I'm delighted that the blog was of some help. Looking back on my own blogposts reminded me how much we liked the areas and your trip report suggests there's lots more to see including Cazorla. and the National Park you mentioned too. Plus my husband now qualifies for the over 55 discount! My only problem is that I'm enthusiastic about too many places, it's a sort of travel attention deficit.

tower, I was very interesting to hear that you speak Yiddish. We are off to NY next week and I was interested to see that there are a couple of Yiddish theatre performances.

Ann glad you enjoyed the pictures too!
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Old Nov 9th, 2015, 05:36 PM
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I know less about this subject (Ladino, etc.) than I should, so appreciate the further information.

tower, I looked at your books and I should read <i>The Wayfarers</i>. It's now in my amazon list. I promise to get to it.

At this stage in my life it's too late to talk to relatives that I now wish I could, especially a particular uncle and my amazing grandmother. They had stories to tell. And did she make some fantastic Sephardic spinach keftes!

jubilada, my nephew's wife is somewhat into Ladino, interesting that it is making a revival. Thanks for your comments.
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 03:15 AM
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I love the way that some threads take flight - I'm off to look at your books too, Tower.
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 04:30 AM
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Was at a great concert with Yasmin Levy - the daughter of Yitzhak Isaac Levy, "a pioneer researcher into the long and rich history of the Ladino music and culture of Spanish Jewry and its diaspora, being the editor of the Ladino language magazine Aki Yerushalayim" - in Oslo a few years ago:

Video clip from a 2005 documentary about her:
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 09:38 AM
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Nelson - You, like many Americans including me, lost the famial language while acquiring English and American culture. Today's kids are luckier. Modern technology enables them to keep up with their languages - tv stations, cheap phoning back to the native countries, and, of course, flights/visits back to those countries. My relatives would have had to take ships back for visits ! I am an anthropologist and language teacher ( now retired); I always encouraged my students to maintain their native tongues while acquiring English, esp those who had "hard" languages - Russian, Arabic, Urdu, etc. Having citizens who are fluent in such languages makes the US stronger.
Hey, we all wish we had talked more with our departed relatives. What a trove of info they must have had. My daughter who is going on 50 is just now getting interested in all this. I took her on my trip to my grandfather's village in Slovakia, but we had some language problems there. The people we used as translators couldn't cope with the dialect spoken in the village. And they were from a town only about 10 mi away ! Our trip was cut short - came down with pneumonia and wound up in hospital in Prague - so I couldn't investigate further. If you do get to Monastir, you may encounter such language problems. Be prepared to hire a professional interpreter. BTW, in the town near "my" village, I encountered a small tour group from Israel who were exploring the sites relatives had lived in. We had some good fun together. I guess lots of people do these heritage trips.
I found the Ladino music in my library by casually pawing thru the bins of CDs. Were I you, I'd ask the research librarian to do a search for you. The word "Ladino" may not have been used in the cataloging so nothing came up in your search. She could possibly find something in other libraries and borrow them thru inter-library loan. Another CD I found was "Bridges of Song: music of the Spanish Jews of Morocco". Who knows how that might have been cataloged !

I'm really glad Maitaitom turned us on to Hendrick' ! I just sent a bottle to an older friend in London for her 90th birthday. TG for Fortnums - they make gift-giving so easy !
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 09:43 AM
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Oh thank you for this report! I just posted asking for ideas for our upcoming trip in the fall, and you have really inspired me. Now I think we may want to make our own trip a little longer than we had planned --- our start date is flexible, although the end date is not (Oct 25).
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 09:52 AM
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Gotta proof read - familial language and Hendrick's !
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 01:22 PM
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Well, this is interesting about Ladino heritage and visiting Andalucia. Yes, in our recent trip we became aware of the ancient Jewish culture and the enforced deportation. Seeing the little Jewish synagogue in Cordoba built 1315 we were learned of the Jewish presence here and elsewhere in Moorish Spain. Might want to read "Isabella the Warrior Queen" by Kirsten Downey or "Ghosts of Spain" by Giles Tremlett or "The Ornament of the World" by Maria Rosa Menocal.
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