Sephardic Identity: Essays on a Vanishing Jewish Culture

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The Sephardim, a fast-disappearing group of Jews whose ancestors were exiled from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the fifteenth century, have fought to retain their identity while necessarily assimilating to the surrounding society. This culture was changed by settlement and residence in non-Spanish areas for over four centuries, a Diaspora in the late nineteenth century, and the Nazi Holocaust. Sephardic settlements in Latin America, the United States, Israel, and elsewhere were the result. Because Judaism is as much a culture as a religion, any move toward assimilation into a non-Jewish culture has historically been seen as a threat to Jewish identity: this is an ongoing crisis in Sephardic life.

These essays, representing some of the most innovative work being done in Sephardic studies, are divided into sections exploring history, sociology, anthropology, language, literature and the performing arts. Topics include the possibility that the Sephardim are Judaized Arabs, Berbers and Iberians; the role of Spanish exiles in the Ottoman Empire; Sephardic remnants in Greece; Sephardic philosophy; the literature of New Christians (the community that arose out of forcibly converted Jews) whose works reveal Jewish roots; the Judeo-Spanish press in Salonika; and the influences of Sephardism on contemporary Argentine literature. An introduction to Sephardism begins the work and a conclusion discusses the Sephardic Education Center, which hopes to assure the culture's future.

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Editorial Reviews

La Lettre Sepharade
this readable book provides the American reader with a smorgasbord collection of topics
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786420216
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/23/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

George K. Zucker is Professor Emeritus of Spanish at the University of Northern Iowa, having retired in 2001. He lives in Tampa, Florida.

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Table of Contents

Preface 1
1 Sephardic scholarship : a personal journey 11
2 Are the Sephardim Jews or Judaized Arabs, Berbers, and Iberians? 29
3 Iberian exiles in the sixteenth-century Ottoman empire 43
4 A surreptitious tolerance : Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Southern Balearic Islands 55
5 Assimilation and identity in Spain, Portugal, and their colonies 65
6 Sephardic remnants in Ioannina 75
7 The power of speech among the Sephardim 81
8 What language did the Jews speak in pre-expulsion Spain? 99
9 Don Isaac Abravanel on exile and redemption 113
10 Judaic motifs and religious inclinations in Romance al divin martir, Juda Creyente by Antonio Enriquez Gomez (1600-1663) 125
11 Sebastian de Horozco (1510-1580), the ambivalent anti-Semitic converso 141
12 The Judeo-Spanish press in Salonika : from glory to destruction 151
13 The allure of Sepharad 157
14 Is Sephardic dance too sexy? 167
15 Sephardic vocal music and the tape recorder : new life or the end of an oral tradition? 179
16 The mediaization of Judeo-Spanish song 189
17 The Sephardic educational center : crisis of identity and assimilation in modern American Judaism 207
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