Bar-Ilan University | President’s Report 2022

38 According to UNESCO, the Jewish language of Ladino—amix of Jewish elements and old Spanish once spokenby Jews of Spanishorigin—is “severely endangered,” with at most a few hundred thousand speakers in Israel and other countries around the world. You would hardly know it from the packed auditorium at Tel Aviv’s Habima Theater, however, whose production of the allLadinomusical Bustan Sephardi (“Spanish Orchid”) is going on almost 30 years. To Prof. Shmuel Refael, director of Bar-Ilan’s Salti Institute for Ladino Studies, and new dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies, modern, impatient Israelis’ stubborn love for a medieval Romance language is far from a surprise. “For Jews the world over, hearing Ladino is like coming home,” he explains. “They may not speak it, or even understand it, but its words touch them on a deeper level and connect them to an intimate history.” Thanks to a new program in The Joseph and Norman Berman Department of Literature of the Jewish People, one of 11 different departments in the world’s largest Jewish studies faculty, generations of Israelis to come can continue to appreciate the richness of a once-flourishing Jewish culture. Called the major in “Ladino: Leading and Implementing a Culture,” the study track at Salti Institute allows students pursuing a master’s degree to acquire not only fluency in the language, but also the skills required to teach it—in schools, youth movements, and cultural organizations. And for those who want to give the world new works of Ladino literature and poetry, a new, writing-focused master’s track in Ladino will provide the opportunity. For students interested in cultural translation of a very different kind, the faculty has also opened a newmaster’s study track in “Intelligence in the Cyber Space,” offered by the Department of Middle Eastern History. Granting students both broad and deep familiarity with the region’s countries by means of digital networks, the program combines courses, research, 11 Jewish studies departments blooming like a Spanish orchid The Faculty of Jewish Studies