The UCLA Sephardic Archive has acquired one of the most significant collections ever assembled chronicling Los Angeles Sephardic Jewish history. The materials tell of the migration of Sephardic Jews to California from the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa at the turn of the 20th century; the shaping of Sephardic culture in Los Angeles; and Sephardic Jews’ contributions to the Jewish and urban fabric of L.A.
Marking its first major acquisition, the archive partnered with UCLA Library Special Collections to acquire the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel (STTI) archive, which includes a rich trove of photographs, papers, audiovisual materials and rare books dating to the mid-19th century. Many are written in the endangered language of Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), the language of Mediterranean Jews descended from the medieval exiles from Iberia.
Launched in 2016, UCLA’s Sephardic Archive is the first of its kind in the U.S. and aims to be one of the world’s largest collections — as yet unseen — of Sephardic Jewish life. An early focus will be on the local Ladino-speaking community, whose immigrant pioneers came to L.A. from modern-day Turkey and the Balkans in the early 20th century. The archive will then be expanded to include L.A.’s North African, Persian and other Middle Eastern Jewish communities.
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