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Agosín, Marjorie

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Agosín, Marjorie (editor). Taking Root: Narratives of Jewish Women in Latin America . Ohio University , Research in International Studies, Latin America Series 38. 2002. ISBN 0-89680-226-4.


Keeping the essence of an original identity, whilst at the same time integrating into a new society is the challenge facing those who migrate. The maintenance of Jewish identity in a new-found land is a common theme in the narratives and testimonies which constitute this book. They are written by women from across Latin America . Agosín, herself a poet and professor of Spanish, has assembled twenty-two fascinating accounts of what might be called 'encounters' of Jewish women and their families with Latin American culture. They have a relevance to all striving to 'take root' in foreign soil. Of particular interest is the narrative by Fortuna Calvo-Roth titled "What! no Yiddish?" which is set in Peru . The significance of the title, of course, is that many migrating to South America were Sephardi - it is the northern European Jews who speak or spoke Yiddish. The Sephardi, coming originally from Spain and the lands of the Ottoman Empire, carried the innate advantage in Latin America of their vernacular language ladino, from which it is a relatively short linguistic journey to the castellano of Peru . In all, this particular account provides a rare, sometimes enchanting, sometimes socially-real glimpse of life in one of the multiple communities which make up Lima . In passing one picks up on other 'trains' of thought, for example that Henry Meiggs, of railway fame, donated land for Lima's Jewish cemetry. The stories in this book should be read straight. It's usefulness as a research tool is limited by the absence of an index. This was at one time common practice for Latin American publishers but rare for a research series from a United States university.

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