Page 175 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

Basic HTML Version

167
Double Quincentenary
with the assistance of museum curator Kenneth Libo and historian
Judith Elkin. They were assisted by an international curatorial
commission comprised of fifty scholars from around the world,
most of these, members of the Latin American Jewish Studies As­
sociation. This exhibition circulated in the original as well as in
facsimiles manufactured under terms of a grant from the New
York Council for the Humanities.
The rich cultural heritage of the Sephardim was revived and
widely celebrated. Multiple musical groups, both ad hoc and per­
manent musical consorts, either added Sephardic music to their
repertoire or gained new popularity on the basis of enhanced pub­
lic interest in Sephardic culture. Videotapes illustrating Sephardi
life and culture were produced.25 Dance recitals, poetry readings,
and tree plantings too numerous to list were among other com­
memorative events. While deeply illustrative of Sephardi culture,
they did not originate in, or relate to, Latin American Jewry.
C H A N G E S IN P U B L IC P E R C E P T IO N S
In the pages of the popular press, the more “romantic” aspects
of the theme prevailed over scholarly ones. Two issues emerged
most frequently when “Jews” were mentioned in the same breath
as “discovery.” The first was speculation concerning the possible
Jewish ancestry of Christopher Columbus. Dozens of history buffs
emerged from obscurity, claiming that they had proof of Colum­
bus’Jewish ancestry; a shipping magnate proposed to mount an ex­
hibition on the theme; an advertising agency circulated a sketch of
Christopher Columbus donning
tfilin.
Their shared assumption
was that resolving this riddle was, or should be, the primary pur­
25.
Some o f the best o f these are “Song o f the Sephardi,” scripted by David
Raphael and produced by Carmi House; “Yerushalayim asher haytah bi-Sefarad,”
scripted and narrated by Yitzhak Navon; “From Toledo to Jerusalem,” featuring
the popular Israeli singer Yehoram Gaon; the 3-volume “Voces de Sefarad,” con­
taining hundreds o f songs performed in visually persuasive historical settings;
several tapes by the four-person Voice of the Turtle, and the classical recordings
o f the Waverly Consort.