By Jonathan S. Ray
Honorary point out for the 2014 Medieval and Early sleek Jewish background part booklet award offered by way of the organization for Jewish Studies
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Additional resources for After Expulsion: 1492 and the Making of Sephardic Jewry
Traveling with all of their possessions and without the ability to seek redress against would-be offenders, the Spanish Jews were dependent upon the goodwill and pity of ships’ captains. The situation improved little once the refugees reached their intended destination. Their numbers were such that they were continually plagued by shortages of food, water, and proper shelter, a situation that aided the spread of disease. A leading figure among the exiles and one of the Expulsion’s most famous chroniclers, Solomon ibn Verga, wrote that the Jewish refugees in North Africa were reduced to eating grass.
In Almeria, however, he was discovered as a Jew and imprisoned once more. Just then, a prominent Muslim came to his aid, testifying that Ibn Jamil and his traveling companions were Muslims and old friends of his. The Jews “proved” their Islamic identity by reciting a common Muslim prayer—the shahada. The party of Jews together with their Muslim companions escaped to Granada and, after a stay of several months, proceeded to Vélez-Málaga, still in search of transport to North Africa. There, in Vélez, Ibn Jamil’s identity was revealed and the entire group was imprisoned yet again.
From the late thirteenth century onward, Christian settlement and the eventual emergence of Jewish communal governments began, respectively, to restrict and to regulate Jewish life in the new territories. Throughout Christian Iberia, in the older Jewish settlements as well as the new, Jews became an important feature of urban life. Jews remained a distinct group in each city, and social and religious tensions with their Christian neighbors often erupted into violence. However, such differences did not lead to insularity.