The Sephardic Jews of Spain and Portugal

Survival of an Imperiled Culture in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries


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About the Book

Prior to 1492, Jews had flourished on the Iberian Peninsula for hundreds of years. Marked by alternating cooperative coexistence and selective persecution alongside Christians and Muslims, this remarkable period was a golden age for Iberian Jews, with significant and culturally diverse advances in sciences, arts and government. This work traces the history of the Sephardic Jews from their golden age to their post–Columbian diaspora. It highlights achievements in science, medicine, philosophy, arts, economy and government, alongside a few less noble accomplishments, in both the land they left behind and in the lands they settled later. Several significant Sephardic Jews are profiled in detail, and later chapters explore the increasing restrictions on Jews prior to expulsion, the divergent fates of two diaspora communities (in Brazil and the Ottoman Empire), and the enduring legacy of Sephardic history.

About the Author(s)

Dolores Sloan is editor of the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Crypto Jews and former editor of HaLapid, journal of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies. She is on the English and Speech faculty at Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles, and a public speaker.

Bibliographic Details

Dolores Sloan

Foreword by Jonathan Kirsch

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 254
Bibliographic Info: 37 photos, glossary, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3817-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1555-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Jonathan Kirsch      1
Preface: Of Storytelling and History      5

1. On the Eve of Expulsion: Visiting Sephardic Homes in 1492      13
2. Isaac Abravanel: 1Basta mi nombre que es Abravanel! It is enough to know my name is Abravanel!      26
3. Abraham Zacuto: From Discovery by the Stars to a Crater on the Moon      53
4. Luís de Santángel: Spain’s Disraeli and Converso Bridge to the New World      74
5. Doña Gracia Nasi: “Piety of Miriam, strength of Judith”      101
6. “Thou preparest a table before me”: Jewish Life in Cities, Towns, Countryside      127
7. “In the presence of my enemies”: Work, Usury, Clothing and Entertainment      146
8. Resilience and Recovery: Turkey and Brazil, Two Diaspora Communities      161
9. Endurance, Persistence and Identity: Insights from the Sephardic Experience      180

Appendix: Judah Abravanel to His Son      201
Chapter Notes      209
Bibliographical Sources      219
Comments on Sources      225
Glossary      229
Index      233

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “very readable…recommended”—Choice
  • “recommended”—Society for Crypto Judaic Studies
  • “a remarkable testament”—La Herencia