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Ladino Refranes Podcast:
Idioms, Insults and Dirty Words

Seattle’s vibrant Sephardic Jewish community is recognized around the world. One of its hallmarks is the Ladino language, which at one time was spoken by more than 500,000 Jews. But time has taken its toll on this language, which originate in Spain and spread through the diaspora after the Jews were expelled in 1492. The latest generation to speak Ladino at home was born before the 1940s. As native Ladino speakers age, this podcast aims to preserve the special Ladino “refranes” so that they live on forever. These poetic folk sayings are used in casual conversation to offer explanations, similar to English idioms or proverbs. Please listen, learn and enjoy as native Ladino speakers, community members and academics discuss their favorite refranes, their literal and figurative translations, and the stories behind them.


Episode 1

Introduction: Check out this podcast

This introductory episode, narrated by Seattle Sephardic Network President Cynthia Flash Hemphill,  features a discussion on refranes by Seattle Sephardic community elder Lela Abravanel; Bryan Kirschen, Assist. Prof. of Spanish Linguistics at SUNY Binghamton University; and Seattle Sephardic community members Rae Behar and Rena Behar.

Episode 2

Refranes for Food and Shopping

Who doesn’t love food? Especially Sephardic food? For all you foodies – and for anyone who eats – this is the Ladino refranes episode for you! It focuses on refranes that mention food and shopping. And it features Seattle’s Pike Place Market, an iconic institution whose history includes Seattle’s Sephardic Jews. Interviews with Sephardic Hazzan Isaac Azose; Seattle Sephardic community member Isaac Behar; Bryan Kirschen, Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics at SUNY Binghamton University; Ladino singer/songwriter Sarah Aroeste; Devin Naar, Sephardic Studies Program Chair, Isaac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies, Associate Professor History and Jewish Studies, University of Washington. Narrated by Seattle Sephardic Network President Cynthia Flash Hemphill.

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Sephardic Bikur Holim - old.jpg

Episode 3

Refranes in religion and the synagogue

In this episode, guest podcaster scholar, writer, editor Hannah Pressman, Ph.D., speaks to community elder Al S. Maimon, aka "Little Al," about the use of refranes in a religious context. Together, they explore the book, "The Beauty of Sephardic Life," a collection of teachings by Seattle hazan, Sam Bension Maimon. This episode also includes interviews Yossi Azose, Louise Angel Kiss, and chanting by Hazan Isaac Azose.

Episode 4

Insults and Dirty Words

In this episode, we explore the depths of Ladino insults and dirty words. Host Cynthia Flash Hemphill interviews community members Ethan Marcus, Susan Amira Weinstein, the Angel sisters - Esther, Louise and Sylvia, singer Sarah Aroeste, and Prof. Devin Naar, who all enthusiastically discuss the more colorful aspects of the Ladino language.

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