The American Sephardi Federation hosted the first annual New York Sephardic Book Fair at the Center for Jewish History yesterday. I’ve always been interested in Sephardic history, although as far as I know, I have no Sephardic roots.
Several tables of new and used books, many rare, were set up. I bought–
- A Shout in the Sunshine, a middle-grade novel by Mara W. Cohen Ioannides
- Copies of the Jewish history textbooks we used in Hebrew school
- A pamphlet by and a book about Rabbi David de Sola Pool, who had been the spiritual leader of New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel
- A book about the wills of early New York City Jews
- A 1968 book about the Touro Synagogue
- A book about the Jews of Charleston
- A copy of Jean Naggar‘s (yes, agent Jean Naggar) memoir, Sipping from the Nile
Jean has a fascinating story to tell and I’ll be interviewing her
for a future issue of The Whole Megillah. Her father’s family initially was from Spain, then migrated to Italy, and then Egypt.
The day was filled with lectures and readings. Rabbi Marc Angel of Congregation Shearith Israel was the keynote speaker. Andree Aelion Brooks spoke about Dona Gracia Nasi, a 16th century Jewish widow who, through her vast network, helped thousands of Jews escape the Inquisition.
During the Children’s Hour, Peninnah Schram who spoke at the 2010 Highlights Foundation workshop on writing Jewish-themed children’s books, told stories and Mara Cohen Ioannides read from A Shout in the Sunshine.
The Yeshiva University Museum hosted a guided tour through its exhibit of the Braginsky collection–beautifully handwritten and illustrated marriage contracts, Esther scrolls, and other documents.
I hope this event does indeed become annual and I hope the children’s part of the program expands.