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The Balkan Sephardim: Their Stories, Our Heritage

February 19, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Speakers: Edward Serotta, Director of Centropa and Dr. Joseph Benatov, University of Pennsylvania

Sunday, February 19th at 6:30 PM

FREE – Please Reserve Your Seat Here




In 1492, when the Jews of Spain—the Sephardim–were expelled from their home of a thousand years, they sought refuge in many lands. In what became modern-day Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia, Jews lived alongside their Muslim and Christian neighbors. For 400 years, the lived peacefully suffering neither ghettos nor pogroms. But as the Ottomans withdrew and the ugly 20th century took shape, they were marked for destruction. By 1945 the vast majority of them had been murdered. Only Bulgaria managed to protect its Jews, while deporting, en masse, the Jews of Macedonia and northern Greece. In 1992, 50 years after the massacre of the Balkan Sephardim had begun, and 500 years after they had been expelled from Spain, a band of Holocaust survivors in Sarajevo turned their synagogue into a humanitarian aid agency during the Bosnian-Serb siege of their city. Who worked there? Jews and Muslims, Serbs and Croats.


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Join us for a screening of multimedia films and conversation with Dr Joseph Benatov of the University of Pennsylvania, and Edward Serotta, director of Centropa. We will discuss the tragedy and the resilience of the Balkan Sephardim, their role in the broader story of Sarajevo, and how Centropa uses the story in schools throughout the world.


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This program is presented in partnership with Centropa.



About the Speakers:


Joseph Benatov holds a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches Hebrew. He has written on competing national narratives of the saving of the Bulgarian Jews during World War II; Jewish identity politics in Philip Roth’s early fiction; and the sensationalism of U.S. representations of life behind the Iron Curtain. He has translated fiction, poetry, and drama, including several plays staged to wide acclaim in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is also the English translator of the contemporary Bulgarian novel Zift.



Edward Serotta is an American-born, Vienna-based writer, photographer, and filmmaker. He is the author of three books on Jews in Central Europe, including Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Bosnia, and the Lessons of the Past. During the Bosnian war in the 1990s he filed reports for National Public Radio, TIME, and Süddeutsche Zeitung. In 2000, Mr Serotta founded Centropa to preserve European Jewish memory through family pictures and stories. Centropa now works with more than 500 schools in 20 countries




February 19, 2017
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm