By: Aviel Parente  | 

Adio Querida

The Jewish people's history is marked by perpetual wandering. Even when we established ourselves in the promised land in biblical times, we often oscillated between following the Torah and committing heinous sins. The feeling of longing for stability despite never truly finding it is an inherent part of the Jewish experience. It is a feeling that I resonate deeply with, especially in light of recent experiences.

My paternal grandfather's family, originally from Salonika, Greece, traces its Sephardic heritage back to 1492, when they fled the Spanish Inquisition. Salonika developed into a thriving Jewish city, and by the late 1800s, 80% of its population was Jewish. Its Jewish presence was so strong that it was commonly referred to as the “Jerusalem of the Balkans.” In 1943, the Nazis obliterated the community, erasing customs, traditions and centuries-old heritage. Many decades later, the erasure of our family's rich historical identity sparked a great deal of confusion for us, which prompted me to embark on a year-long quest to uncover my roots and learn about Salonika's Jewish traditions. During this journey, I discovered a Ladino song, “Adio Querida,” a beautiful ballad that captures the pain of exile through the metaphor of a fractured relationship.

The historical context of this song provides a deeper understanding of its meaning. Spanish Jewry had become so comfortable and integrated that they had forgotten what exile meant. The Inquisition served as a harsh reminder of their true status and culminated in “Adio Querida” as an outpouring of the pain they experienced when Spain, a place they considered their home, rejected them:

Tu madre cuando de pario When your mother delivered you

Y te quito al mundo and brought you to the world

Corazon ella no te dio she did not give you a heart

Para amar segundo to love with

Adio Farewell

Adio querida Farewell, my beloved

No quero la vida I do not want to live

Me l’margastes tu you made my life miserable

Va buscate otro amor I’ll go look for another love

Aharva otras puertas knock on other ports

Aspera otro ardor in hope there is a true hope

Que para mi sos muerta because for me you are dead

Adio Farewell

Adio querida Farewell, my beloved

No quero la vida I do not want to live

Me l’margastes tu you made my life miserable.

This song serves as a reminder of the Jewish people's history of wandering, abandonment, and the constant search for a new home. The miraculous return to our true home in 1948 fulfilled the song's message — we, the Jewish people, no longer have to go “knocking on other ports” because we found one in our true home. Our days of searching for “another love” are in our past as we have finally been granted the opportunity to return to the land of our ancestors. 

It's time to bid farewell to the places we call home, as history has shown that they will reject us too. It was wonderful while it lasted, and many places treated the Jewish people relatively well. Saying goodbye is always difficult, especially where there is such a deep-rooted connection. As difficult as it might be, I want to maintain positive memories of the place I have called home all my life, without the scar of rejection. Jews all over are enduring levels of antisemitism that we haven’t experienced in a very long time. Jews have been spread to every corner of the world; we have been thrust into exile against our own wishes and we are now feeling the brunt of it. I recognize this destructive, recurring pattern of endless wandering and displacement, and I know that a timely exit and finding refuge in a true home will indeed end this vicious cycle of exile.

It seems that it is somehow safer for a Jew to live in Israel even in a time of war than anywhere else around the world. By not seizing the opportunity to return to Israel — an opportunity that we as a nation have waited two millennia for — we are actively choosing to continue to experience exile.
I don’t want to have to go through what our ancestors perpetually went through. I desire stability and a sense of belonging. The proper home of Am Yisrael is Eretz Yisrael. The era of Jewish wandering will come to an end so long as we make the choice for it to end. We must now decide whether we want to feel comfortable and stay where we are, or prefer to end our exile and go home.


Photo Caption: Exile is part of our identity, but we have the opportunity to stop wandering—the choice is ours.

Photo Credit: Aviel Parente