After Expulsion1492 and the Making of Sephardic Jewry

After Expulsion1492 and the Making of Sephardic Jewry

Jonathan S. Ray

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780814729113

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

On August 3, 1492, the same day that Columbus set sail from Spain, the long and glorious history of that nation's Jewish community officially came to a close. The expulsion of Europe's last major Jewish community ended more than a thousand years of unparalleled prosperity, cultural vitality and intellectual productivity. Yet, the crisis of 1492 also gave rise to a dynamic and resilient diaspora society spanning East and West. This book traces the various paths of migration and resettlement of Sephardic Jews and Conversos over the course of the tumultuous sixteenth century. Pivotally, it argues that the exiles did not become “Sephardic Jews” overnight. Only in the second and third generation did these disparate groups coalesce and adopt a “Sephardic Jewish” identity. The book presents a new and fascinating portrait of Jewish society in transition from the medieval to the early modern period, a portrait that challenges many longstanding assumptions about the differences between Europe and the Middle East.