2005 National Jewish Book Award, Runner-up
In this pathbreaking book, Matthias B. Lehmann explores Ottoman Sephardic culture in an era of change through a close study of popularized rabbinic texts written in Ladino, the vernacular language of the Ottoman Jews. This vernacular literature, standing at the crossroads of rabbinic elite and popular cultures and of Hebrew and Ladino discourses, sheds valuable light on the modernization of Sephardic Jewry in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 19th century. By helping to form a Ladino reading public and imparting shape to its values, the authors of this literature negotiated between perpetuating rabbinic tradition and addressing the challenges of modernity. The book offers close readings of works that examine issues such as social inequality, exile and diaspora, gender, secularization, and the clash between scientific and rabbinic knowledge. Ladino Rabbinic Literature and Ottoman Sephardic Culture will be welcomed by scholars of Sephardic as well as European Jewish history, culture, and religion.