The Yale Undergraduate Research Journal


Judeo-Spanish, the ancestral language of Sephardic Jews, enjoys fewer speakers, literature, and less scholarly attention compared to Yiddish, its counterpart spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. Nonetheless, Judeo-Spanish captures the rich experiences of its speakers through exile, persecution, and perseverance, embodying unique Jewish-Spanish culture and religious practice. It has received fresh recognition in the last two centuries from scholars and Sephardim themselves, and the quincentennial of the 1492 Jewish expulsion from Spain inspired a new Sephardic autobiographical genre, where Sephardic authors grapple with their heritages and language, dimming from assimilation and the Shoa. Myriam Moscona is one such author whose unique descent spans Spain, the Balkans, and Mexico. In her memoir, Tela de sevoya, Moscona struggles to reassemble her scattered ancestry. She uses Judeo-Spanish to thread disparate histories from around the world, reanimate the voices of deceased ancestors, reexamine modern Sephardic identity many centuries removed from Iberia, and preserve her family story.