front cover of Mazaltob
A Novel
Blanche Bendahan
Brandeis University Press, 2024
A first-ever English translation of a compelling work by a forerunner of modern Sephardi feminist literature.
Raised in the Judería or Jewish quarter of Tetouan, Morocco, at the turn of the 20th-century, sixteen-year-old Mazaltob finds herself betrothed to José, an uncouth man from her own community who has returned from Argentina to take a wife. Mazaltob, however, is in love with Jean, who is French, half-Jewish, and a free spirit. In this classic of North African Jewish fiction, Blanche Bendahan evokes the two compelling forces tearing Mazaltob apart in her body and soul: her loyalty to the Judería and her powerful desire to follow her own voice and find true love. Bendahan’s nuanced and moving novel is a masterly exploration of the language, religion, and quotidian customs constraining North African Jewish women on the cusp of emancipation and decolonization. Yaëlle Azagury and Frances Malino provide the first English translation of this modern coming-of-age tale, awarded a prize by the Académie Française in 1930, and analyze the ways in which Mazaltob, with its disconcerting blend of ethnographic details and modernist experimentation, is the first of its genre—that of the feminist Sephardi novel. A historical introduction, a literary analysis, and annotations elucidate historical and cultural terms for readers, supplementing the author’s original notes.

front cover of The Sephardic Jews of Bordeaux
The Sephardic Jews of Bordeaux
Assimilation and Emancipation in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France
Frances Malino
University of Alabama Press, 1978
Sephardim of Bordeaux—the first in Europe to be recognized as a Jewish community

This book focuses on a small community of French Jews, the first in Europe to encounter the requirements of an emerging nation-state and to be recognized by that state as full and equal citizens. The Sephardim of Bordeaux were typical of neither the majority of the Jews of France nor those of Western Europe. They had entered France as Catholics; only after more than a century of public adherence to Catholicism was their community officially recognized as Jewish. Nevertheless, their assimilation and conformity to the standards of French society as well as their commitment to a Judaism fashioned as much by contemporary political and economic concerns as by tradi­tion reveal a legacy bequeathed to French Jewry and an important model for the development of the modern Jew.

Describing the tensions that existed between the Sephardic community of Bordeaux and the Ashkenazic Jews of France, the author also depicts their role in the relation of the Jews with Napoleon and the forming of the Grand Sanhedrin.

front cover of Voices of the Diaspora
Voices of the Diaspora
Jewish Women Writing in Contemporary Europe
Thomas Nolden
Northwestern University Press, 2005
Voices of the Diaspora offers, for the first time, representative works by major Jewish women writers from Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Russia. These stories and essays, written over the last twenty-five years, speak to the challenges confronting the post-Shoah generations of Jews living in Europe: a need to commemorate the lives extinguished in the camps; a desire to repair a ruptured culture; and a determination to reclaim a Jewish identity resistant to assimilation and the threats of anti-Semitism.

At the same time, these writers address themes specific to their national contexts. Berlin-born Barbara Honigmann questions the possibility of Jewish life in the country responsible for the "final solution." Maghreb-born Marlène Amar and Reina Roffé address the experiences of displacement and emancipation as Sephardic women in Western, post-colonial societies. Clara Sereni describes how Jews in post-Fascist Italy reemerged with a self-assertiveness that troubled a society that had found comfort in amnesia. Ludmila Ulitskaya portrays a Jewish girlhood on the eve of Stalin's death empowered by the religious traditions of Jewish resistance.

From the unique perspective of women's literary voices, this volume reveals to English-speaking readers the extraordinary vivacity and diversity of European Jewry, and introduces them to a new generation of women writers.

Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter