Erensya (“heritage” in Ladino, the language of Sephardic Jews) is a meeting held every other year that brings together representatives of communities of the Sephardic diaspora. It is organized by a Spanish government agency, El Centro Sefarad-Israel, whose mission is to further knowledge of Sephardic culture within Spain and abroad.
This was the first year I was invited. The conference was held in Mexico City, from June 5-8, 2017, and was cohosted by the government of Mexico City and three Sephardic synagogues. It was extremely informative for me to meet representatives of Sephardic communities in North Africa, France, Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey, Argentina, Uruguay, Brasil, Peru, Chile, Panama, Mexico and the US, as well as leaders of cultural organizations in Spain. One of the highlight for me was meeting and speaking with Drita Tutunovic, the last native speaker of Ladino in Serbia.
The knowledge I gained and the contacts I made will not only help me in the classroom but also in programming events at the UW Leon Center, of which I have the honor of being founding director. It also served to strengthen relations between the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies and the Seattle Sephardic community, the third largest in the US.