Sephardic Jews: History, Religion and People

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Sephardic Jews is an introduction to the world of the Sephardim (Hebrew plural for Sephardic Jews) for the reader learning about that heritage. Although the Sephardim were once the majority of Jews in the United States, in the last 150 years they were replaced by the monumental migration of Eastern European and Russian Jews who brought other traditions. For many in the United States, Sephardic Jews have become a part of memory and even a figment of the imagination, often with little information about the actual history and heritage of the group. Today, in the Southwest of the United States and in parts of Latin America there is a movement to reclaim Sephardic identification among Spanish speakers, some with possible Jews roots dating back to the Expulsion from Spain in 1492. That has sparked interest in learning more about Sefarad, the Spain of the Jews, and the Diaspora of Spanish Jews that sent people to the Ottoman Empire, Morocco, Amsterdam, and the Americas. Myths have grown around the concept of Sefarad sometimes obscuring the realities of what it was. There was a golden age for Jews during the early Muslim period, but as the reconquest heated up and Christian rule replaced that of Muslims, the Jewish experience turned dark until the light of the Jews was put out in Spain.

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