Salomon Presents His New Book to Portugal’s Duke of Braganza
What’s more, the professor of Portuguese, French, and Dutch languages and literatures has already printed out a color print of the book jacket of The Marrano Factory: The Portuguese Inquisition and its New Christians 1536-1765. (Brill Academic Publishers, $119.)
With his cousin I.S.D. Sassoon, Salomon has translated, revised, and added to this book by Antonio José Saraiva. Ask him if he is available for a photo and Professor Salomon jumps back on his bicycle, races home, and returns in minutes, producing even more information, complete with color slides and a photograph of himself taken outside the Torre Do Tombo, the Portuguese National Archives in Lisbon. The National Archives is where he has studied in detail more than 1,000 of some 40,000 documents concerning New Christians.
In short, Salomon is energetic, focused, and prepared. He brings to his subject the sort of zest that one does not see every day. Others have noticed his work, including the Duke of Braganza, Portugal, to whom he presented his new book at an October 4 New York City reception. The duke is heir to the throne.
Salomon’s latest book grew out of a UAlbany course he was teaching in 1997. This is not the first time he has become fascinated with, and then deeply committed to, a field of study. Of Dutch descent, he joined the UAlbany faculty in 1968, where he launched and has actively supported the program in Dutch studies for more than 25 years.
“His philosophy was, ‘If the University budget won’t permit it, I’ll find a way anyway,’ ” said Sorrell Chesin, associate vice president for Planned Giving in the Division for University Advancement. “Salomon felt that Albany was in a unique position to offer a program in Dutch studies in view of the Dutch heritage in our region and throughout the Hudson Valley. Since state funds had not been allocated for the program, he decided to personally provide ongoing support. And he was able to attract additional contributions from the Bendheim Foundation.” These funds underwrote the stipend for a teaching assistant every semester. The result is that UAlbany students can take Dutch language and culture.
“During the autumn semester of 1997, I taught a course on The Portuguese Inquisition under the auspices of our University’s Department of History,” said Salomon, a professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. “Every week I presented my students with my English version of a chapter of the late Antonio José Saraiva’s Inquisição e Cristãoes-Novos (Inquisition and New Christians), which went through five editions in Portugal between 1969 (four just in that year) and 1985. It had become a classic in the Portuguese language, but a controversial one.”
According to Salomon, Saraiva’s text was a class analysis of the Portuguese Inquisition’s persecution of the converted Jews and their descendants, and therefore was often misinterpreted as being “merely” Marxist.
Almost immediately, Saraiva’s text provoked a storm of protest, not so much in Portugal itself as elsewhere, especially from Jewish historians who saw the New Christians as “martyrs for their (supposed) Jewish faith,” said Salomon. After the General Conversion of 1497, in effect, Judaism, as well as any other faith besides Catholicism, was abolished and declared punishable in Portugal. The term New Christians came to designate - thanks to the Portuguese Inquisition - anyone with even the slightest Jewish ancestry, and even that was often fictional.
“The Marrano Factory, thanks to my British co-author I.S.D. Sassoon, translates into crisp English and amplifies Saraiva’s book and the exchanges between Saraiva and his major critic, I.S. Révah, providing much additional material from my protracted researches in the Portuguese Inquisitorial archives. The new introductions and appendices are substantial, making clear the issues at stake. The work done by scholars subsequent to Saraiva is recognized and summarized,” Salomon said. “These issues should be of interest to an audience beyond and broader than one limited to Portuguese studies.”
He and Sassoon make clear their “admiration for the late Antonio José Saraiva, but do not act as advocates for his theories, and present a balanced account.”
Salomon added, “Reading the book as it now stands, one can see that Saraiva was wrong on some specifics and may have somewhat over-emphasized his major point. The English version stands as a vivid and exciting condemnation of the Inquisition, whose materialist basis remains a given for many first-rate historians.”
The New York City reception to which Salomon was invited was held at the Center for Jewish History and hosted by the American Sephardi Federation. During the event, the duke presented Herbert Barbanel, head of the Abarbanel Wine Company of Cedarhurst, N.Y., with a replica of the original family’s coat of arms. Barbanel is also a descendant of Dom Isaac Abravanel (Barbanel), a leader of the 15th-century Portuguese Jewish community.
Salomon found a letter written in the early 1470s by Dom Isaac Abravanel to one of the duke’s ancestors, attesting to the centuries-old friendship between the Abravanel and Braganza families. The whereabouts of Abravanel’s original letter are unknown, but Salomon found two somewhat variant 15th-century manuscript copies in Portugal.
“At the beginning of the week, when I received the invitation to this reception, I set myself to make and present to your Royal Highness a critical text of Isaac Abravanel’s fascinating letter. I went to work by conflating the two manuscript versions and choosing the better lessons, modernizing spelling and punctuation to conform to modern Portuguese and adding some explanatory footnotes,” Salomon told the duke.
During the reception, he read a portion of the letter to the duke. Later, he hopes to publish the annotated Portuguese text in a limited edition dedicated to the Braganzas.
Many UAlbany graduate students lead interesting lives outside of school. Doctoral student Mildred Chang is doing something different: She is running against incumbent Sarah Curry-Cobb for Albany Common Council in a bid to become Fourth Ward alderwoman.
“Please find pictures of Governor George Pataki congratulating me on being the first black woman to run for office as a Republican in the City of Albany, N.Y.,” she wrote in a recent letter to the University.
Chang taught Spanish in Jamaica for 13 years before moving to Albany with her sons, Marlon and Sean. She also taught English as a Second Language in Mexico City for two years.
“I did my undergraduate studies at UAlbany in political science and Spanish and went on to complete two master’s degrees in those same subjects in 1995,” she noted. Chang graduated from the Center for Women in Government Fellowship program in that same year.
“I am now completing my course work for the Doctor of Arts in Spanish and Education at the University. I will be running in the November 2001 election as a candidate on the Republican, Conservative, and Right to Life Party lines,” she said.
“I extend a very special thanks to the dedicated professors who nurtured me, believed in me, and encouraged me. Dedicated and brilliant professors such as Raphael Bosch of the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies, and Carlos Astiz and Martin Edelman, both of the Department of Political Science at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy,” she said.
Chang said that while she is aware the odds of being elected in a strong Democratic base are not in her favor, she likes the challenge.
School of Public Health Names Recipients of Axelrod Fellowships
Winners of this year’s prestigious Axelrod award are Michaela Gazdik, a 2001 Rutgers University graduate who plans laboratory-based biomedical sciences study; and Folorunsho Edobor-Osula, a 2001 Johns Hopkins University graduate who is studying for a master’s in public health, concentrating on epidemiology.
The two began their studies earlier this month as the seventh and eighth winners of the Axelrod Fellowship, which is the most generous offered at the School of Public Health and is made possible by private contributions.
“We are delighted to welcome these two young women to the School of Public Health and to the distinguished roster of Axelrod Fellows,” said Dean Peter J. Levin. “The Axelrod Fellowships help us attract outstanding students as we seek to develop well-trained public health scholars and activists - professionals who will make a difference in the years to come.”
Gazdik, from Westport, Mass., is planning a career in laboratory-based medical research. Her primary interest lies in investigating infectious disease, particularly antibiotic-resistant infections, and other infectious agents primarily affecting developing countries. She will work toward a master’s degree in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, based at the New York State Department of Health’s world-renowned Wadsworth Center laboratories.
Edobor-Osula, originally from Richmond Hill, Queens, plans to become a physician focusing on clinical research. But first she wants to study public health and epidemiology. She excelled in graduate-level public health courses during her undergraduate career at Johns Hopkins University, and also amassed an impressive volunteer record, working with inner-city children in Baltimore. She was also a member of the women’s varsity basketball team at Johns Hopkins.
The University at Albany’s School of Public Health is a unique institution offering graduate students the academic strength of a major research university and real-life exposure to public health practice at the state health department and local health agencies. Many professors also hold key positions at the Health Department and are engaged in a variety of public health problems, including E.coli outbreaks, the West Nile Virus and toxic waste emergencies, as well as chronic problems such as teen pregnancy, smoking, AIDS, cancer, and health-care quality improvement.
The Axelrod Fellowship is named for the late state health commissioner who served in that post from 1979 to 1991, and who was nationally known for his leadership on a variety of public health issues and innovations. They ranged from campaigns against smoking to health care for the uninsured and research-based efforts to improve the quality of medical care.
The Axelrod award consists of a $12,000 stipend and full tuition scholarship for the first year of what is normally a two-year study program. Second-year public health students working on master’s degrees are commonly funded through internships or other means.
The Axelrod Fellowship was established in 1995, with funds raised to honor the former commissioner’s record of service and public health innovation. Dr. Axelrod, a native of Great Barrington, Mass., graduated from Harvard Medical College and was a virology researcher at the National Institutes of Health before coming to Albany to establish a new laboratory division in the health department.
The School of Public Health was founded in 1985 through the efforts of then-University President Vincent O’Leary and Axelrod to take advantage of the proximity of one of the nation’s top research universities and its premier state health department.The School of Public Health is located in the Edward S. and Frances Gildea George Education Center on UAlbany’s East Campus.
Known as the State Employee Federated Appeal (SEFA) for UAlbany employees, and the United Way campaign for Research Foundation and UAlbany Foundation employees, the drive has begun, and employees have received their pledge packets. Last year the successful campaign closed in December at $86,346, with an average gift of $178 - an increase of more than $31 per gift from 1999. Last year 486 employees participated; this year’s goal is 650. The SEFA/United Way campaign is of particular significance this year because many non-profit groups that help those in need will not receive anticipated state funding in light of the September 11 attacks.
Funds collected by SEFA/United Way go to a wide variety of organizations, ranging from those addressing HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, and disabled American veterans, to those assisting the homeless. Donors may designate which organizations in which counties will receive their funds. Additionally, it is important to recognize that SEFA is the only authorized fundraising campaign among state employees. A gift through SEFA reduces the need for participating organizations to conduct separate fundraising drives.
As in the past, Campaign Coordinator Michael Boots and Programming Coordinator Maureen Schaefer have been working diligently to promote enthusiasm. Two notable changes this year include a travel mug for donors pledging $130 or more and two prizes raffled off for those who returned their pledge by October 16. Those employees who return their pledge after that date will be entered once.
This year the SEFA/United Way campaign began in October and will end in mid-November. All employees are encouraged to participate. Contributing is a great way to display leadership and community involvement.