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After Expulsion: 1492 and the Making of Sephardic Jewry by Jonathan S. Ray

By Jonathan S. Ray

Honorary point out for the 2014 Medieval and Early sleek Jewish historical past part publication award awarded through the organization for Jewish Studies

On August three, 1492, an identical day that Columbus set sail from Spain, the lengthy and excellent heritage of that nation’s Jewish group formally got here to an in depth. The expulsion of Europe’s final significant Jewish neighborhood ended greater than one thousand years of exceptional prosperity, cultural energy and highbrow productiveness. but, the quandary of 1492 additionally gave upward push to a dynamic and resilient diaspora society spanning East and West.
After Expulsion strains a number of the paths of migration and resettlement of Sephardic Jews and Conversos over the process the tumultuous 16th century. Pivotally, the quantity argues that the exiles didn't turn into “Sephardic Jews” in a single day. merely within the moment and 3rd new release did those disparate teams coalesce and undertake a “Sephardic Jewish” id.
After Expulsion offers a brand new and engaging portrait of Jewish society in transition from the medieval to the early smooth interval, a portrait that demanding situations many longstanding assumptions concerning the modifications among Europe and the center East.

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12 Rather than see it as a forced act of persecution, many Jews saw the converts’ choice as voluntary and condemned them as unfaithful and adulterous. Writing on the conversions of the Castilian notables Abraham Seneor and Meir Melamed, one chronicler noted with bitterness: “They were not forced by might or by force or a strong arm. ”13 Such harsh judgments arose out of quite understandable feelings of bitterness. Unfortunately, they also tend to eclipse the very real practical dilemmas confronting Spanish Jewry at the time.

The provincial worldview of most Iberian Jews began to fade over the course of the fifteenth century, as small groups of émigrés joined the longdistance merchants in the Mediterranean. Compared to the waves of Jews and Conversos who left Iberia after 1492, the number who fled the region in the century following 1391 was relatively small, a difference that greatly facilitated the task of resettlement. Some of these émigrés reached as far as the eastern Mediterranean, settling among the Romaniot (Greek-speaking) Jews of Anatolia and the Balkans, and rapidly integrated into the local communities there.

Perhaps chief among these was the amorphous structure of the Jewish community. Hispano-Jewish society was characterized by a loose association of local polities that were themselves riven by internal fissures among various factions and families. These tensions and mutual suspicions also pervaded the relationships among the rabbinic elite, popular preachers, and the general Jewish populace that both groups sought to guide. Although various factions contended for the leadership of Iberia’s Jewish communities throughout the late medieval period, no single group emerged as the primary authority.

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