Medium 9780253006813

An Ode to Salonika

Views: 474
Ratings: (0)

Through the poetry of Bouena Sarfatty (1916-1997), An Ode to Salonika sketches the life and demise of the Sephardi Jewish community that once flourished in this Greek crossroads city. A resident of Salonika who survived the Holocaust as a partisan and later settled in Canada, Sarfatty preserved the traditions and memories of this diverse and thriving Sephardi community in some 500 Ladino poems known as coplas. The coplas also describe the traumas the community faced under German occupation before the Nazis deported its Jewish residents to Auschwitz. The coplas in Ladino and in Renée Levine Melammed's English translation are framed by chapters that trace the history of the Sephardi community in Salonika and provide context for the poems. This unique and moving source provides a rare entrée into a once vibrant world now lost.

List price: $28.99

Your Price: $23.19

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

5 Slices

Format Buy Remix

Chapter 1: Bouena’s Ode to Salonika

ePub

In order to appreciate the vast array of coplas written by Bouena, one needs to consider the themes that recur in each collection and to attempt to view the verses in a historical context. This poet displayed an uncanny awareness of the intricacies of her community and its history and integrated her perceptions into her poetry. She was also extremely cognizant of the changes that society was undergoing at the time, especially because its younger members were being exposed to modern notions that often threatened ancient traditions. The dissonance that resulted did not escape her attention; it was often unsettling.1 As a result, she is critical or sarcastic at times about, for example, the greediness of young men seeking marital matches or about the way in which the latest fashions dictated the lifestyles of the youth and of the women. In her writing, she displays the utmost respect for the traditional lifestyle as manifested in her detailed descriptions, often containing Ladino proverbs, woven into her coplas. In order to present a clearer picture of the life that Bouena describes, the themes under discussion appear in the same order as the reordered verses (and their translations) in chapter 3. These themes deal with coplas and expressions (nine verses), dowries and marriages (fifty-one), births and children (twelve), family dynamics (forty-six), social commentary (forty-seven), philanthropy and education (twenty-seven), economic status (twenty-six), women’s work (ten), Ladino publications (seven), the Sabbath (twelve), holidays (thirty-five), changes in tradition (twenty-eight), the dictates of fashion (twenty-seven), nationalism (thirty-one), historical developments (eighteen), and assorted anecdotes and expressions (twenty-six).

 

Chapter 2: Tradition versus Modernity and Historical Developments

ePub

Bouena had a natural affinity for traditions and for the traditional, partly due to her upbringing as a proud Sephardi, and partly due to her deep roots and vast acquaintance with Ladino folksongs and refrains along with her artistic ties to the world of embroidery. Tradition is an essential element that serves to bind any society—and, consequently, serves to keep families together. Tradition elicits respect and honor and is the antithesis of change. Therefore, if one is to protect traditions, one cannot blindly accept change for its own sake or on the assumption that all change is positive.1

Needless to say, knowing the fate of the community under discussion alters the lenses through which one perceives the traditional; this altered perception holds true for the poet-memoirist as well as for the historian. Although modernity and modern ways might have eventually eroded and even overtaken the traditional, the opportunity to do so naturally was thwarted. Tradition is mainly relegated to the memories of the survivors, and in Bouena’s case, geographical distance made it nearly impossible for her to continue many of the traditions that she treasured so dearly. But her admiration of the traditional and connection to her tradition served as a catalyst for writing hundreds of verses and for recording numerous proverbs that are devoted to traditions and that recreate the aura of the cherished world that has been lost.

 

Chapter 3: Coplas Written by Bouena Sarfatty Garfinkle about Life in Salonika

ePub

20. Las komplas a Salonique es parte de la vida.

Ningounos alevantan el vazo sin dezir eviva,

Souetan a los amigos de boueno korason: parnasa, saloud i amor.

Bevamos a la saloud de los Sassons.

108. Saver ether komplas eze
oun dono del dio.

Los selaniklis las saven dezir kon savor.

Las mejores son de loz djornalistas,

Besantsi o Abravanel,1 ke tienen la penina fatsile kada dia.

Bevamos a la saloud de Albert Attias.

374. Saver ethar komplas eze art.

Mouthos las saven kopiar.

Se kiere hen para laz dezir,

Eze oun plazer de souhaitar boueno a loz haverim.

Bevamos a la saloud de Avraam Eshkenazi.

142. Los livros de estoria non moutha djente loz meldan.

Ma! Los selaniklis ethan komplas, para ke todos sepan eze plazer

De las sentir i souhatamos boueno a amigos i a los ermanos de Salonique.

Bevamos a la saloud de Salomon Shaki.

13. A Salonique las komplas es la vida de kada dia.

 

Chapter 4: “The Miseries That the Germans Inflicted on Salonika”

ePub

The Nazi invasion of Salonika on April 9, 1941, would determine the fate of the twenty-five-year-old Bouena and her family as well as all of Salonikan Jewry. Bouena survived by fleeing and joining the partisans, at first the EDES Royalists1 and later the ELAS Communists.2 She eventually reached Palestine, accompanying a group of children she had smuggled out of Greece. She later returned to work as a dietitian in the displaced persons’ camp in Siderokastro, Greece, and encouraged Jews to immigrate to Palestine.

This particular collection of verses, entitled Komplas de las mizerias ke izo lo[s] almanes a Salonique del 1941–1943 (in English, “Coplas about the Miseries That the Germans Inflicted on Salonika, 1941–1943”), contains ninety-nine strophes. The traumas that Bouena as well as the community had experienced remained with her until her dying day. Interestingly enough, one perceives that events are often represented in the verses as belonging to the present rather than to the past, for she relived them time and again. The use of this tense seems to add a sense of authenticity and realism, as if the verses were part of a diary.3 The lost world here is not one whose heyday passed as the result of modernization or secularism, but rather the result of war and manmade devastation. In his collection of Sephardi Holocaust poetry, Isaac Jack Lévy writes, “[T]he primary duty of Sephardic writers is not the verbalization of the message but rather the message as a means of retaining their own identity through remembrance of fallen brothers and sisters.”4 Bouena is clearly engaged in remembrance but her verses are unusual in that their message does more than help the survivors retain their identity, for the verses simultaneously send an informative message of historic significance.

 

Chapter 5: Coplas about the Miseries That the Germans Inflicted on Salonika, 1941–1943

ePub

75. Mousoulini kiere azer ouna Italia fouerte, komo esta aziendo el Alman.

Akavidate makaron. Kien ko[r]re mouthe presto se kaye.

Ya vites kuaolo te akonteseria en Albania.

I si non era el Alman ke vine a Boulgaria,

Ivas a entrar en Gresia kon kadenas por manias.

Bevamos a la saloud de Benvenida.

1. Es Pesah ay romores ke los almanes estan a la pouerta de Salonique.

Todos aseraron los magazines i vingneron preso en kaza.

Despoues de ouna ora,

Se sentia romper pouertas de magazines de koumida i de bivida.

El dio ke moz vouadre de esta hazenoura.

31. El primer dia ke vingneron, los almanes estavan bien rensegnados.

Mos tomaron los tableaus de valor i de grandes pintadores ke loz pinto.

Reyna impeso a gritar. Eliaou le dicho serala, te van a matar.

Bevamos a la saloud de [E]liao[u] ke se los dio i no rezestio.

13. Loz Alvos son fiereros.

Apenas los almanes vinieron,
les vaziaron el magazin.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000031612
Isbn
9780253007094
File size
4.01 MB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata