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The Jews of Spain

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  93 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The history of the Jews of Spain is a remarkable story that begins in the remote past and continues today. For more than a thousand years, Sepharad (the Hebrew word for Spain) was home to a large Jewish community noted for its richness and virtuosity. Summarily expelled in 1492 and forced into exile, their tragedy of expulsion marked the end of one critical phase of their ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published November 2nd 1992 by Free Press (first published 1992)
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JoséMaría BlancoWhite
Written by a Jew and addressed specifically to a Jewish audience, there's no question about it that -regardless of the importance and quality of this work- it is an exercise of Jewish apologetics as few have been consummated. And I don't mean it in a bad sense; a little more of the kind should be expected from other quarters: Christian, to look no further. Why, we have our own tragic story to tell, and no need to point to culprits now. But, in the present times, it seems that Christians are the ...more
This is not a well-written book (the author struggles to write a clear sentence) but it is well worth reading. The post-explusion coverage is better than the descriptions of what came before in Spain. Although here in America our Jewish community was founded by the Sephardim, the coming of the Ashkenazi Jews has eclipsed these beginnings. It's almost as if the Sephardic experience is perceived as peripheral to the main course of Jewish history. As Gerber points out, nothing could be further from ...more
Fascinating! The Jews of Spain details the history of Jews in Spain for that past 2,000 years, beginning with the Jews who came with the Romans to the Iberian Peninsula. There is rich detail about the flowering of science and Jewish literature during the 800 year Moorish occupation of the peninsula during the Umayyad Caliphate in Cordoba, and the tragic expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 by Ferdinand and Isabella right after the Moors were finally defeated in the Battle of Granada. Gerber cont ...more
Elliott Bignell
I came to this volume as part of a project to further my education about Islam and its relationship with the rest of the world, which had led me to an interest in the Golden Age of ha Sefarad, and to inform myself further about Judaism, about which I have had too little information to understand its relationship with the world at all. This book serves both purposes beautifully. While serious in tone, it is very readable indeed and provides what I would judge to be a good, neutral perspective. My ...more
This gave me invaluable info on the Moorish occupation of Spain, the Reconquest, the Inquisition, and the differences between Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews. I had hoped that it might shed some light on some of the crypto-Judaic heritage in my native San Luis Valley, but instead it helped me realize how obscured that past really is. This is not just due to the 500 years since my Spanish ancestors came to the New World, but also because there were two hundred years, starting in 1391, where there w ...more
very detailed picture of the Sephardic heritage and history.
Not a big fan of the heavy writing style tho.
Lauren Albert
I found this book fascinating and full of surprising facts (the Liberty Bell was brought to America on a ship owned by a Jewish merchant, for instance). The Jewish population clearly often had a disproportionate effect on the countries where they settled: "an estimated thirty-five to sixty percent of the income in every one of the Iberian kingdoms was provided by Jews.” This was, of course, due to punishing taxes inflicted on them. But, it also meant that the countries that expelled them suffere ...more
Lois Portnoff
I have some background about the Sephardic Jewish community but I had never internalized what it meant to be unable to find a place to live...where no country anywhere would welcome these people.

The book is comprehensive and an easy read.
Not dry at all and contains a good overview of the history of the Sephardi Jews (of particular relevance to me given my background!)...if you have an interest in the topic, it's a pretty light read (as far as history books go).
For me this was an introduction to Jewish Sephardic history and culture. My appetite is whetted and I am hungry for more information now.
I really enjoyed this book. I had to take my time reading it though because it's not a story, it's a history book.
For a history book this one is really good. It is not written in an overly pretentious manner and is an enjoyable read.
Denise DeRocher
A concise account of when, how and why the Jews of Spain were kicked out of the country - great history.
If there's a history buff in you, this should be picked up. It's a good book, but not for everybody.
Very helpful as I prepared for a Jewish study mission to Spain
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“In later centuries, both Spanish and Italian patriots have claimed him; but in fact the background of this obscure map maker and sea captain is extremely vague. He himself was always quite evasive about his origins, although he claimed to come from Genoa. In Spain he referred to himself as a foreigner (extranjero), but he kept his journals and made marginal notations in his books in Spanish, not Italian; his letters to his brother Bartholome and his son Diego were also written in Spanish, and he wrote Latin in a recognizably Spanish manner. Yet his Spanish was the language of the fourteenth century, and his characteristics seemed to suggest a Catalan background. Furthermore, although he made an elaborate show of his Christian piety, he always kept company with Jews and Muslims.” 0 likes
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