LAURA PAPO, FIRST SEPHARDIC FEMINIST
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18 Jul

LAURA PAPO, FIRST SEPHARDIC FEMINIST

Laura Papo Bohoreta was a great writer, playwrighter, collector of Sephardic folklore treasure and a great fighter for women’s rights. Let’s pause for a moment so that we observe from the start.

Let’s line up the Important events of the 15th century to the period in which she lived and worked as Laura Papo Bohoreta.

Year 1492 in Spain was important for several reasons – Catholic King Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile won the Granada and thus took power in Spain; Christopher Columbus set off on a journey in search of sea route to India, and in the same year, almost the same time, the Spanish Jews – Sephardic – also went on the road in search of new homes, because the Catholic Monarchs expelled them from Spain. One part of the Sephardic so he came to the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Bayezid II. wished them a warm welcome, opening the door for them in all their cities because he needed hard-working, educated and cultured people, just what are the Sephardim were. He wondered how anyone could expel people, so helpful to every country. For the next decade Sephardim settled in Istanbul, Thessaloniki … In the middle of the 16th century they came to Bosnia, which was at that time a province of the Ottoman Empire. Since it they did’nt knew the language, they lived quite isolated from the rest of the population, but free, with the autonomy of religion, education and the judiciary.

In 1878 the Austro Hungarian releases Bosnia and adds a touch of the new way of life; mixed Western and Eastern cultures with Sephardic tradition. In such a confused situation, in Sarajevo, in a family of poor dealer Judah Leon Levy and his wife Esther Luna is born, the first of their seven children. How Judah in Sarajevo did not have success in trade, in 1900 the family moved to Istanbul.

Girl Luna changed name  into more modern and internationally – Laura. In eight years of residence in Istanbul Laura attended an international school for French Jews, “Israel Alliance Française”. After eight years the family returned to Sarajevo, just as poor as before, only much more numerous. To help his own, Laura gives instruction in French, Latin, German and piano. With Laura’s help her sister Nina, Klara (later joined them and Blanka – the mother of the famous writer Gordana Kuic) opened in Sarajevo Salon of hats “Chapeau Chic Parisien”. Immediately upon returning to Sarajevo, so when she was 17 years, realizing that extinguishes fire of Sephardic tradition and folklore, Laura begins to collect romances, songs, stories and proverbs of Sephardic. In addition, translations and adapting the works of French authors – Jules Verne’s Children of Captain Grant’s, Mme Emile de Girardin La joie fait peur – Alegria Espanto – / Joy afraid /.

The turning point in her social engagement was the article “Die Frau Südslawische in der Politik” / South Slavic women in politics /, published in 1916 in the Bosnian newspapers that are printed in German “Bosnische Post”, where Jelica Bernadzikowska Belović one chapter devotes to Sephardic women in Bosnia. Describes as unsophisticated, tradition devoted woman who faithfully keeps patriarchal values, which angered Laura, and it a week later in the same newspaper published an answer “Die Spanolische” / Sephardic women / with the intention of a more realistic view of Sephardic women, her role in the family, its strengths and weaknesses. The next few years is not socially engaged, she is spending time earning a living and taking care of his sons.

It is not a feminist in the sense of equal rights for men and women, but in terms of raising awareness in women about the power they have and that she needed to endure and persevere to achieve all its objectives, to be interested in art, read, write and develop her’s personality. The development of women should not depend on the environment, but about themselves, about their desire to progress…

Laura Papo Bohoreta lived for others, promoted the idea that we can still make advanced, and she died alone, hidden in the hospital of Catholic Sisters of Mercy in 1942, not knowing that her two sons were killed by the Ustasha on the way to Jasenovac.