Devin Naar only received his appointment at the University of Washington as assistant professor in Jewish studies and history in 2011, but he is already making an impact on the third largest Sephardic community in America.
The Washington State Jewish Historical Society’s “Nizkor/Let Us Remember” newsletter reports that Naar initiated his Seattle Sephardic Treasures project after participating in an informal Ladino class in Seattle. Ladino is a mixture of Castilian Spanish, Hebrew, Greek and Turkish – it was the language of Sephardic Jews after they were expelled from Spain in 1492 and relocated to Turkey and Rhodes. Several students in the class brought in old family letters written in Ladino, and asked Naar to help translate them.
Since then, Naar has received nearly 500 Ladino books and documents – the second largest collection of its kind in this country. He intends to have these catalogued and digitized, and created the first-ever online Ladino library, modeled after an online Yiddish library based in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The Seattle Sephardic Treasures project is an initiative of the Stroum Jewish Studies Program at the UW. For more information click here.