Ilan Stavans to Lead Latino-Jewish Culture Workshop at Yiddish Book Center

Ilan Stavans

Ilan Stavans

(AMHERST, Mass.) – Renowned author and scholar Ilan Stavans – the leading chronicler of modern Latino-Jewish life – will lead a weekend program called Yiddish con Salsa: The Jews of Latin America at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, from Friday, April 19, 2013 through Sunday, April 21, 2013. Participants will join the Amherst College professor and acclaimed author in delving into the historical, political, and social contexts of this complex Jewish community with roots in both Eastern Europe and pre-1492 Spain. Informed by his lifelong investigation of language and identity, and his own experiences as a Jew growing up in Mexico City, Stavans will illuminate the cultural landscape in which the Jews of Latin America search for their roots.

Yiddish con Salsa will include four lectures by Stavans: “Jews and Latinos: Unlikely Partners”; “The Converso as Metaphor: The Legacy of Secrecy”; “Magical Realists with Yarmulkes: The Writer as Activist”; and “Yiddish con Salsa: Adventures of Mame Loshn in the Hispanic World.” The program will also include discussion groups, which will be offered in English, Spanish, or Yiddish; a screening of the award-winning comic film My Mexican Shiva, based on a short-story by Stavans; course packet and books for recommended reading (provided in English or Spanish); a wine and cheese reception with Stavans; and three kosher, catered meals, beginning with Shabbos dinner.

Nellie Casman Latino posterThe weekend lectures will explore Jewish life in the Hispanic world; the impact of the Spanish Inquisition on Jews in both Spain and the Americas; Jewish literature in Latin America through the voices of important writers such as Alberto Gerchunoff, Jacobo Timmerman, and Moacyr Scliar, highlighting the significant place these writers occupy alongside non-Jews like Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes, and Mario Vargas Llosa; and the linguistic journey of Jews in Spain and the Americas, starting with Spanish, Portuguese, and Ladino, and continuing to Yiddish, Hebrew, and English.

Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, was born and raised in Mexico. He attended Yiddish day school with other children of Eastern European immigrants. In the 1980s he came to the U.S. as a graduate student, and is now an internationally known, award-winning cultural critic, linguist, translator, public speaker, editor, short-story writer, and TV host. His latest work, Return to Centro Histórico: A Mexican Jew Looks for His Roots, makes it possible to understand the intimate role that Jews have played in the development of Hispanic civilization.

The cost for the weekend program is $260 for Yiddish Book Center members, $300 for non-members. To learn more and to register visit the Yiddish Book Center.

The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to tell the whole Jewish story by rescuing, translating and disseminating Yiddish books and presenting innovative educational programs that broaden understanding of modern Jewish identity.


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