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Ladino Won't Die; It Lives On in Music

June 16, 2004

What a pleasant surprise to see "Israelis Hoping They Won't Hear the Last Word on Ancient Dialect" (June 13), on the long-neglected Sephardic-Ladino community. I was especially pleased that it mentioned singer Yasmin Levy.

There are thousands of Sephardic Jews living in the Los Angeles area as well as many Sephardic organizations whose purpose it is to perpetuate those traditions, including the music. A few years ago, I was invited to be a guest on public radio station KCRW. For an hour we played only Sephardic recordings. The response to the program was beyond anyone's expectation, and not only within the Jewish community.

Some of the finest Ladino recordings today are sung by artists of other faiths. Our bestselling recording is a Ladino CD by Savina Yannatou, a non-Jewish artist from Salonika, Greece, where, until World War II, there was a Sephardic community of 80,000. Most of them were killed in the Holocaust.

Fifteen years ago, we couldn't find 15 Ladino CDs. Today, we stock over 300 and are looking for more.

Simon Rutberg

Hatikvah Music

Los Angeles

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