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

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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

On August three, 1492, an analogous day that Columbus set sail from Spain, the lengthy and wonderful historical past of that nation’s Jewish neighborhood formally got here to an in depth. The expulsion of Europe’s final significant Jewish group ended greater than 1000 years of unheard of prosperity, cultural power and highbrow productiveness. but, the trouble 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 amount argues that the exiles didn't develop into “Sephardic Jews” in a single day. simply within the moment and 3rd iteration did those disparate teams coalesce and undertake a “Sephardic Jewish” identification.
After Expulsion offers a brand new and interesting portrait of Jewish society in transition from the medieval to the early glossy interval, a portrait that demanding situations many longstanding assumptions in regards to the changes among Europe and the center East.

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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.

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