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Mazaltob: Sephardi Women in Translation

March 28 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Join us for a book launch celebration and discussion featuring translators/editors Frances Malino and Dr. Yaëlle Azagury and moderated by Jonathan Decter.

Mazaltob, by Blanche Bendahan, is a fascinating portrait of a young Moroccan Sephardi woman as she navigates the ever-shifting ground between tradition and modernity, East and West, self and other, obligation and desire. Stylistically bold, culturally rich, by turns comic and wrenching, this polyphonic novel is both historically important and, in its new translation, a gift for our times.

“Bendahan’s masterpiece, a stunning exploration of Jewishness, feminism, and modernity in Morocco, deserves to be read far and wide. Malino’s excellent biographical introduction and Azagury’s fascinating literary analysis beautifully frame their translation. A delight and a triumph!”

Jessica M. Marglin, Professor of Religion, Law and History and Ruth Ziegler Chair in Jewish Studies, USC




Frances Malino is the Sophia Moses Robison Professor Emerita of Jewish Studies and History at Wellesley College. She is author of The Sephardic Jews of Bordeaux: Assimilation and Emancipation in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France (1978) and A Jew in the French Revolution: The Life of Zalkind Hourwitz (1996) and co-editor of Essays in Modern Jewish History: a Tribute to Ben Halpern(1982), The Jews in Modern France (1985), Profiles in Diversity: Jews in a Changing Europe (1998), and Voices of the Diaspora: Jewish Women Writing in the New Europe(2005). Recipient of numerous awards and fellowships she was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques by the French Ministry of Education in 2012.   

Dr. Yaëlle Azagury is a writer, literary scholar, and critic.  She was Lecturer in French and Francophone Studies at Barnard College, and Lecturer in Discipline in the English and Comparative Literature Department at Columbia University. She has contributed essays and scholarly articles for Women Writing Africa, Rethinking Jewish Culture and Society in North Africa, among other scholarly volumes. She is a native of Tangier, Morocco.

Jonathan Decter is the Edmond J. Safra Professor of Sephardic Studies at Brandeis University. His research focuses on Jews in the Islamic World, Spain, and the broader Mediterranean during the medieval period, and in Sephardic Studies more generally.

Professor Decter’s most recent book, Dominion Built of Praise: Panegyric and Legitimacy among Jews in the Medieval Mediterranean, is the winner of the National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Culture for 2018.  His first book, Iberian Jewish Literature: Between al-Andalus and Christian Europe, was awarded the Salo W. Baron prize for best first book in Jewish Studies in 2008. He is also the co-editor of three edited volumes and an editor of the Journal of the Intellectual History of the Islamicate World.

Blanche Bendahan (née Bénoliel) was born in Oran, Algeria on November 26, 1893, to a Jewish family of Moroccan-Spanish origin. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to France, where she was educated in the French system. Bendahan published her first collection of poetry, La voile sur l’eau, in 1926 and then her first novel, Mazaltob, in 1930. Mazaltob, which won an award from the Académie Française, portrays a North African woman in Tetouan, Morocco, and the oppression to which she is subjected by the patriarchal society in which she lives.


March 28
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Vilna Shul
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Vilna Shul
18 Phillips St
Boston, MA 02114
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