Tisha B’Av 2015: Reflections of a Poet-Partisan from Salonika in the Writings of Bouena Sarfatty

Posted by Renee Levine Melammed on July 26, 2015
Topics: Pardes from Jerusalem, Tisha B'av, The Three Weeks

This lecture was held at Pardes as part of the Tisha B’Av program 2015.

Bouena Sarfatty was born in Salonika in 1916 to an eminent Sephardi family. Unlike the rest of her family, she survived the Holocaust because she joined the Greek partisans. Once resettled in Montreal, she recorded her memories of Jewish life in 20th Century Salonika by composing poems (coplas) in Ladino and by writing her memoirs in 1975 following a visit to Israel. This session will examine some of her poetry in translation alongside portions of her memoirs and see how Bouena assessed the experience of her beloved community as well as her own life.


About Renee Levine Melammed

Renée Levine Melammed is a professor of Jewish history at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. She has published numerous articles dealing with women in Jewish history as well as the conversos of Spain and the Inquisition. Her most recent book is An Ode to Salonika: The Coplas of Bouena Sarfatty (Indiana University Press, 2013) which was awarded a Canadian Jewish Book Award. Her first book, Heretics or Daughters of Israel: The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile (Oxford University Press, 1999) received two National Jewish Book Awards. Her second book was A Question of Identity: Iberian Conversos in Historical Perspecitve (Oxford University Press, 2004). She is academic editor of the gender and Jewish women’s studies journal Nashim (Indiana University Press) and has a column in the Jerusalem Post (“His Story, Her Story”) since 2011.

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