Sephardim: The Jews from Spain

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Here, in a single volume, is the first comprehensive history in English of the Sephardim - descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 by Ferdinand and Isabella. Writing for the general reader as well as for the specialist, Paloma Diaz-Mas provides a superbly organized and up-to-date account of Sephardic culture, history, religious practice, language, and literature. Most of the Sephardim originally settled in Mediterranean Europe, the Low Countries, North Africa, and the Turkish Empire. In the nineteenth century, however, a second diaspora brought the Sephardim to the United States, South America, Israel, and Western Europe. Diaz-Mas begins with a brief overview of Jewish religion and culture, discussing the calendar, holidays, dietary laws, and life-cycle ceremonies. Next, she traces the history of the Jews in Spain through the 1492 expulsion. She succinctly describes their subsequent wanderings, settlements, and achievements up to the nineteenth century, when false messiahs caused crises that had a profound impact on Sephardic communities. After detailing the various causes of the second diaspora, Diaz-Mas addresses the effect of the Holocaust specifically on the Sephardim - an issue almost entirely overlooked elsewhere. She also reviews the involvement of the Sephardim in Spanish politics through the Moroccan Protectorate and into Franco's time and the present. The final chapter focuses on the situation of the Sephardim throughout the world today. Diaz-Mas's treatment of the language of the Sephardim - often called Ladino or Judeo-Spanish - shows how it diverged from "mainstream" Spanish in the 1500s, how it developed regional dialects, and why it is now disappearing as an everyday language. In addition to traditional Sephardic literature - religious works, coplas (verses), popular stories - newer genres like journalism and theater are also examined. Authoritative and completely accessible, Sephardim will appeal to anyone interested in Spanish cultu
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The Sephardim are a minority within the Jewish community, descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 who retain the Spanish language into this century. This translation of a work by a Spanish academic purports to be a comprehensive introduction to Sephardic history and culture. The author begins with an outline of Jewish beliefs and practices but does not make clear which references are to Sephardim specifically. On the role of women in Jewish life, her information is outdated. She gives limited attention to the persecution of Jews and conversos by the Inquisition before the Expulsion. There is a curious reluctance to see events from a Jewish perspective and sources. However well intentioned Diaz-Mas is, her agenda makes this an apologia for Spain and pulls it out of focus. Notes provided by the author and the translator are skimpy, and the bibliography is incomplete and all but useless to English-only readers. This title fails to capture the Sephardic spirit. Of small benefit to the general reader or specialist.-- Libby K. White, Schenectady Cty. P.L., N.Y.
A comprehensive history of the Sephardim--descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 by Ferdinand and Isabella. Writing for general readers as well as specialists, Diaz-Mas provides an up-to- date account of Sephardi culture, history, religious practice, language, and literature. Translated from the original Spanish edition of 1986 (Barcelona: Riopiedras Ediciones). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226144849
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 594,935
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Paloma Dí az- Mas is a researcher at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientí ficas de Madrid.
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Table of Contents

Translator's Foreword
1 Historical Background 1
Jews in the Iberian Peninsula 1
Sephardic Judaism 9
Recommended Reading 33
2 History of the Sephardim 35
Exile to Christian Countries 36
Sephardim in the East 38
Sephardim in Morocco 51
The Second Diaspora 62
Recommended Reading 70
3 Language 72
Jewish Languages and the Speech of Spanish Jews in the Middle Ages 72
Exile 73
The Names of the Language 74
Ladino 75
Judeo-Spanish: A Fossilized Language? 77
Judeo-Spanish in the Levant 78
Haketia: Moroccan Judeo-Spanish 86
Language Registers 91
Current Status 95
The Writing System 98
Recommended Reading 100
4 Literature 102
The Bible and Religious Literature 102
The Coplas 105
Traditional Genres 112
Adopted Genres 132
Recommended Reading 148
5 The Sephardim and Spain 151
Spain's Reaction to the Sephardim 151
Sephardic Reaction to Spain 169
Recommended Reading 176
6 The Sephardim Today 178
Current Worldwide Status 178
Sephardim in Spain 191
Sephardic Studies 199
Recommended Reading 205
Bibliography 207
Translator's Additional Bibliography 215
Index 217
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