The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Djoha: The Partial Judaization of a Hero of General Culture and the Uniqueness of the Corpus of Judeo–Spanish Folk Tales about Djoha

This Lecture submitted hereby to the XVIII World Congress of Jeiwsh Studies Languages, Literature and Art Division, Ladino (Sephardic Studies) Section, offers a close look at Djoha, the comic hero of the Judeo-Spanish folk tradition. Even though Djoha is one of the most popular characters of the Ladino folk-tradition, this personage was not created within Judeo-Spanish folk culture. Rather, it was borrowed from the Arabic oral tradition. It is interesting that Sephardic Jews who settled in the Ottoman Empire embraced Djoha, an Arabic folktales comic hero - and not his Turkish equivalent : Nasruddin Hodja. One might argue that this preference is related to the fact that Nasruddin is too obviously Turkish and Muslim (he is even a Muslim cleric) to become a hero of Jewish culture, while Djoha`s own cloudy ethno-confessional identity made him much more suitable for the mission. This lecture is aimed at emphasizing the peculiar way in which this adopted charcter was adapted and further developed in the Sephardic tradition. It is a fruit of comparison and sudy of 282 Judeo-Spanish Djoha stories with 489 such stories from Arabic folk-tradition (429 of them from Muslim background and 60 from Judeo-Arabic ones)