Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality: The Inner Life of Jews of the Ottoman Empire

Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality: The Inner Life of Jews of the Ottoman Empire

by Marc D. Angel
     
 

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Who were the Sephardic Jews of the Ottoman Empire? What lasting lessons does their spiritual life provide for future generations?

"How did the Judeo-Spanish-speaking Jews of the Ottoman Empire manage to achieve spiritual triumph? To answer this question, we need to have a firm understanding of their historical experience…. We need to

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Overview

Who were the Sephardic Jews of the Ottoman Empire? What lasting lessons does their spiritual life provide for future generations?

"How did the Judeo-Spanish-speaking Jews of the Ottoman Empire manage to achieve spiritual triumph? To answer this question, we need to have a firm understanding of their historical experience…. We need to be aware of the dark, unpleasant elements in their environments; but we also need to see the spiritual, cultural light in their dwellings that imbued their lives with meaning and honor."
—from Chapter 1, “The Inner Life of the Sephardim”

In this groundbreaking work, Rabbi Marc Angel explores the teachings, values, attitudes and cultural patterns that characterized Judeo-Spanish life over the generations and how the Sephardim maintained a strong sense of pride and dignity, even when they lived in difficult political, economic and social conditions. Along with presenting the historical framework and folklore of Jewish life in the Ottoman Empire, Rabbi Angel focuses on what you can learn from the Sephardic sages and from their folk wisdom that can help you live a stronger, deeper spiritual life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Despite the esoteric title, this exploration of Judeo-Spanish communities is more than a scholarly treatise. Angel, rabbi of Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue in New York, grew up in Seattle with Turkish-born grandparents who spoke Ladino (a form of medieval Spanish). He documents the historical foundations, cultural values and religious underpinnings of his own Sephardic roots. In the early 20th century, the Ottoman Empire was home to more than 400,000 Jews, making it the fifth-largest Jewish community in the world. Because these Sephardim felt little need to integrate into the larger culture, they maintained a language that dated back to the expulsion from Spain in 1492. They suffered abject poverty, discrimination, humiliation and political weakness. However, because of both internal attitudes and external factors, their self-perception was bolstered with faith in God, a belief in their own rich heritage and in their place in the world to come. Angel sprinkles his readable narratives with scholarly citations as well as superstitions, rituals, Ladino folklore, songs and sayings. This valuable historic journey demonstrates the "triumph of the human spirit," resolute in its optimism and dignity. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

Wonderful … so much more than its title implies. A must read for every serious student of Jewish history and culture."
Dr. Norman Cohen, provost, Hebrew Union College, and author of Hineini in Our Lives: Learning How to Respond to Others through 14 Biblical Texts Personal Stories

"Poignant and masterful, concise and provocative … depicts the rich inner life of the masses of Jews in the Ottoman Empire who, despite hardship, lived a quintessential Judaism with an enviable naturalness.”
Jane Mushabac, professor of English, City University of New York, and author of Mazal Bueno: A Portrait in Song of the Spanish Jews

“The wisdom of the Sephardic tradition, its breadth and spirit and song, beautifully distilled for the general reader. A whole world of Jewish spirituality comes alive in this book.”
Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, and author of Floating Takes Faith: Ancient Wisdom in a Modern World

“An excellent guide by one of the foremost interpreters of Sephardic civilization. For scholars as well as anyone seriously interested in Sephardic culture, history and society.”
Avigdor Levy, professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University

“Captures the essence of the Sephardic Ottoman world with sensitivity, nuance and love. Exudes warmth and pride as well as much valuable information. No cultural expression of the Sephardic Jew is ignored in this enduring work of great charm and learning.”
Professor Jane S. Gerber, director, Center for Jewish Studies and the Institute for Sephardic Studies, Graduate Center of the City University of New York

“A loving, critical and wistful look at the inner life of the Sephardim. Will be cherished by Sephardim and Ashkenazim alike. Indeed, Ashkenazim will note the intriguing parallels to their own history.”
Dr. Norman Lamm, chancellor, Yeshiva University

“A great read and important book illuminating the post inquisition destiny and rich spiritual development of the Judeo-Spanish Sephardic community in the Ottoman Empire—an essential and often neglected integral part of the overall Jewish experience.”
David E. R. Dangoor, president, American Sephardi Federation

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580235167
Publisher:
Longhill Partners
Publication date:
09/26/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Rabbi Marc D. Angel, PhD, is founder and director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals (www.jewishideas.org). Rabbi emeritus of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York City, he is author and editor of twenty-nine books, including Maimonides, Spinoza and Us: Toward an Intellectually Vibrant Judaism; Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality: The Inner Life of Jews of the Ottoman Empire (both finalists for the National Jewish Book Award); The Rhythms of Jewish Living: A Sephardic Expoloration of Judaism's Spirituality (all Jewish Lights); and Maimonides—Essential Teachings on Jewish Faith and Ethics: The Book of Knowledge and the Thirteen Principles of Faith—Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Paths).

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