Bosnian Holocaust survivor and Ladino speaker passed away in Sarajevo

Moris Albahari, one of the last speakers of the Ladino language in Bosnia and a guardian of the Jewish tradition, passed away in Sarajevo at the age of 93.

Albahari was born in 1930 and, as 11-year old boy, escaped the transport to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust, joining the Yugoslav Partisans. Alongside a long career in aviation, which included managing Sarajevo Airport, he was famous for sharing his vast knowledge about the history and culture of the Sephardic Jews in the Balkans.

Before 1941, around 14,000 Jews lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 12,000 were killed in the Holocaust.

According to US State Department data, 2000 Bosnian Jews migrated to Israel or Western countries during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. The latest census data indicates that, out of around 1000 Jews living in the country, 600700 reside in Sarajevo.

Ladino or Judeo-Spanish is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish, which spread through the Ottoman Empire, North Africa and other European countries after the expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Spain in 1492. The language is considered endangered.


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