Writing this book would not have been possible without the support of numerous people in various countries over the course of many years. At Stanford, Zachary Baker and Heidi Lerner guided my library searches and generously offered their time and expertise, while Vered Shemtov went above and beyond her role as Hebrew teacher to read and speak the language with me. There are not enough hot chocolates in the world to repay her. In Philadelphia, David and Deborah Sheby opened up their home to me, allowing me to explore the great wealth of soletreo postcards David has collected over the years. Bob Bedford of the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture also shared his publications and unending enthusiasm for Sephardi history with me since we met many years ago. Anne-Sophie Cras of the Centre des Archives Diplomatiques in Nantes helped me to locate important documents, as did Gerhard Keiper of the Auswärtiges Amt, Politisches Archiv in Berlin. Beatrice Schmidt and Manuela Cimeli in Basel gave me access to hard-to-come-by materials from the Viennese Sephardi community, for which I am grateful.
In Paris, Esther Benbassa invited me into her home and offered advice about my project during its earliest stages. Rose Levyne and Jean-Claude Kuperminc guided my research in the archives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle on various occasions. I am indebted to Gaëlle Collin for finding, and helping me find, countless books and documents, as well as for her generosity and friendship over the past decade. Pandelis Mavrogiannis has proved a lively interlocuter on the various occasions we have had to meet in his adopted city. More recently, Marie-Christine Varol shared her research and personal archives with me and regaled me with stories, songs, and jokes culled from her many decades of fieldwork with Ladino speakers in the Balat District of Istanbul and beyond.
In Salonica, Angelos Chotzidis guided me through the collections of the Museum for the Macedonian Struggle, as did Erika Perahia Zemour in the city’s Jewish Museum. Yannis Megas also generously shared with me various (p.xvi) citations and rare Jewish periodicals from Salonica that make up part of his private collection. Rena Molho provided advice and insights into Salonican Jewish history. Paris Papamichos Chronakis offered me personalized tours of his country, city, and bookshelves in search of forgotten Sephardi pasts, making my trip to Greece both invaluable and unforgettable. Although I met him in the United States, Isaac Nehama has also opened various Greek pasts for me, not least by translating a number of Greek-language documents that were relevant to this project, but also through the many stories he shared of his own early years in Athens and as a partisan in Thessaly during the Second World War.
My many trips to Turkey over the course of a decade have also been enriched by the support and friendship of numerous people. In Izmir, the Hazan family offered me copies of original newspapers published by their relative Aron de Yosef Hazan over a century ago. In Istanbul, Karen Sarhon at the Research Center for Ottoman-Turkish Sephardic Culture provided assistance early on. My first summers spent in Istanbul were made particularly special by visits to the home of Rıfat Birmizrahi and his late wife, who opened up their home and cooked traditional Sephardi meals for me while permitting me to sift through the Hebrew and Ladino library of Rıfat’s father. Rıfat Bali has guided my research over the course of many years, offering his unmatched bibliographic expertise on modern Turkish Jewish history, providing me with books old and new, and, along with his wife Beti, also becoming a dear friend. More recently, Selcuk Aydın of Atatürk Kitaplığı, Ümit Sevgi of the IFEA library, and Fuad Bey of the Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi all facilitated my work in a number of ways. I am extremely grateful to Abdullah Uğur for his many years as my research assistant, Ottoman tutor, tour guide, and friend. Thanks are also due to Sevim Yılmaz Önder, Elif Özcan, and Esra Derya Dilek for guiding me through the long and often arduous journey of Ottoman paleography and, more recently, to Esra for research assistance as well. Making the acquaintance of Ceyda Arslan and Vangelis Kechriotis while studying Turkish at Boğaziçi University was fortuitious and has led to many fruitful exchanges. I am also grateful to Vangelis for introducing me to Noémi Lévy, whose work on the Greco-Ottoman War of 1897 in Salonica inspired one of the present chapters of this book. Mukaram Hhana, Catalina Hunt, and Alan Mikhail all graciously provided me with archival and bibliographic material from Istanbul when I could not make the journey myself. Thanks are also due to Alan for providing invaluable advice over the years and for inspiring me to cross the bridge from Stanford to U.C. Berkeley many years ago for a graduate seminar with Leslie Peirce—who encouraged and supported me during my early forays into Ottoman history.
(p.xvii) In Israel, Shmuel Rafael and the staff at the Naime & Yehoshua Salti Center for Ladino Studies at Bar-Ilan University always offered a warm welcome. In Jerusalem, I spent many months at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, the Jewish National University Library and—most of all—immersed in Ladino materials at the Ben-Zvi Institute. To all of the staff at these institutions I would like to express my gratitude, but especially to Eli Ben-Yosef, who has the amazing capacity to make a trip to the archives feel like a reunion of old friends, to Dov Cohen, who knows more about Ladino books than anyone I am ever likely to meet, and to Esther Guggenheim, who probably learned more about Ladino materials during my year in the city than she ever would have planned. I would also like to extend my thanks to Avner Perez, who provided me with materials from his collection. I was lucky enough to meet David Ashkenazi, who sat and read through numerous letters contained in the collections of Istanbul’s chief rabbinate with me. Thanks are also due to Professor Yaron Harel, for generously giving me permission to peruse his research team’s catalogued version of this collection. Yaron Ben-Naeh graciously welcomed me into his classroom at the Hebrew University and exposed me to a new world of plurilingual Sephardi texts. I am also grateful for having met Eliezer Papo, a vivacious person and a veritable walking repository of linguistic and cultural knowledge about the Balkan Sephardi world he knows so intimately.
During the many years I pursued this project, I have benefited from the insights and questions of participants in various workshops and conferences. These include the “Bridging the Worlds of Judaism and Islam” conference convened by Michael Laskier and Yaacov Lev at Bar-Ilan University; a Ladino Studies Program talk at the Hebrew University organized by David Bunis; the workshop “Late Ottoman Port Cities and their Inhabitants” at the 8th Mediterranean Research Meeting of the European University Institute organized by Vangelis Kechriotis and Malte Fuhrmann; the Group for the Study of the History of the Jews of Greece, convened by Giorgos Antoniou, Rika Benveniste, Tony Molho, and Paris Papamichos Chronakis in Salonica; the Jewish Studies Series with ME/SA at the University of California, Davis; the Works in Progress Workshop at the Association for Jewish Studies, run by Claire Sufrin and Adam Shear; the “Itinéraires Sépharades” Conference at the Sorbonne convened by Esther Benbassa and Aron Rodrigue; the Jewish Studies Program at the University of South Carolina; an Ottoman-Sephardic workshop at Georgetown University organized by Sylvia Önder; the “Jews and Empire” Symposium convened by Sarah Abrevaya Stein at UCLA; the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center at the University of Cincinnati; the University of Chicago’s Symposium on Modern Jewish and Israeli History, coordinated by (p.xviii) Orit Bashkin and Leora Auslander; an “Ottoman Citizenships” panel at Florida State University organized by Will Hanley; the “Jews and Empire” Lavy Colloquium at Johns Hopkins University convened by Marina Rustow and Kenneth Moss; and the “Sefarad an der Donau” Symposium in Vienna, organized by Michael Studemund-Halévy. I am especially indebted to Michael for bringing me to Vienna and introducing me to the world of Sephardi Studies in Europe.
I am grateful to my many, wonderful colleagues at Vanderbilt, who have offered me their support and invaluable advice since I joined the faculty in the fall of 2008. Special thanks are due to Allison Schachter and Catherine Molineux for invaluable input and to Leah Marcus, Shaul Kelner, Liz Lunbeck, and Jim Epstein, my chairs in the Program in Jewish Studies and the Department of History. Jim Toplon and the entire Interlibrary Loan staff at Vanderbilt have been tremendously helpful in aiding me in searches that often spanned the globe. Tamesha Derico and Nick Schaser provided research assistance and spent long hours in front of microfilm machines. Lindsey Bunt helped catch errors at the eleventh hour.
For their generous support of this project, I am thankful to the Taube Center at Stanford University, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Stanford Humanities Center and Mellon Foundation, the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry at Brandeis University, the Institute for Turkish Studies, the American Research Institute in Turkey, a Foreign Language and Area Studies grant for Turkish study at Boğaziçi University, a UCLA Maurice Amado Program Faculty Incentive Grant, and Vanderbilt’s RSG summer and fellowship funding.
It was a tremendous privilege to have the chance to work with a number of wonderful mentors during the formative stages of this project. Aron Rodrigue has remained a dedicated teacher and inspiring interlocutor for over a decade, and I owe him my sincerest thanks for his time, insights, and continued encouragement and support. Steve Zipperstein has trained me not only to be a Jewish historian, but also to search for ways to bring creativity and the beneficial influences of other disciplines into the writing of history. Together, he and Aron have been a wonderful team and a source of incessant support to me. Toward the end of my graduate career, serendipity brought me a third advisor, Elizabeth Frierson, who, like Aron and Steve before her, I count as a lifelong mentor. Elizabeth’s incisive and careful readings of my work have pushed me in new directions and forced me to ask new questions and will, no doubt, continue to do so in the future.
I am also indebted to Sebouh Aslanian, Olga Borovaya, David Bunis, Michelle Campos, Paris Papamichos Chronakis, Paula Daccarett, Michal Friedman, Emily Greble, Esther Juhasz, Matthias Lehmann, Amalia Skarlatou (p.xix) Levi, Lital Levy, Nazan Maksudyan, Vivian Mann, Bedross Der Matossian, Kenneth Moss, Devin Naar, Derek Penslar, Sarah Abrevaya Stein, Darin Stephanov, and Claire Sufrin, as well as two anonymous readers, all of whom have provided me with countless references, suggestions, and questions during different stages of this project. Olga in particular has been there from the earliest stages—although we still can’t settle on the exact date—first as a teacher and mentor, more recently also as a co-author, and always as a cherished friend. During the final stages of this project, I also had the great pleasure of working with Susan Ferber. I could not have asked for a more engaged or insightful editor and I am deeply indebted to her for her careful readings and guidance throughout the publication processs. Max Richman and Smita Gupta were instrumental in shepherding the book through production. I am grateful to both of them for their input and help preparing my manuscript. My mother, Margaret Phillips, has offered detailed readings of much of my work, and has been a source of constant support, as has my father, Ronald Cohen, and the rest of my family and friends. For enriching my life in ways I cannot even begin to enumerate, I extend my sincerest gratitude to all of them. Finally, I would like to thank Ari Joskowicz, who joined my life partway into this project but whose role in helping me advance it has been tremendous. For your intellectual companionship, thoughtful questions, and so much more, thank you. (p.xx)