And there’s not much left…..
Unlike Yiddish documents, which have been catalogued through the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York and other archives, Ladino documents have no such home.
“I have a few Ladino books and they are in pretty rough condition, and there are not going to be anymore coming out,” said Randall Belinfante, librarian and archivist at the National Sephardic Library. “People are writing about Ladino culture, but they are not writing Ladino materials.”
Lyudmila Sholokhova, the head librarian at the YIVO Institute, says there is no clear estimate of how many Ladino books still exist. However, there are an estimated 600 Ladino works at Yeshiva University, 200 more at YIVO, 200 at the Library of Congress and about 170 at the National Sephardic Library.
“Digitization will bring huge possibilities for people to get access to their heritage and also huge possibilities for libraries around the world to collaborate because at the moment, we don’t have a clear idea of what other libraries have,” Sholokhova said.
There is a level of interest in preserving the language. Ladino Komunita, an online Ladino forum started by Rachel Bortnick in 1999, tries to unite the Ladino-speaking community. The forum now has 1,400 people from more than 42 countries.