Sephardi Jewry: A History of the Judeo-Spanish Community, 14th-20th Centuries
Until the publication of this remarkably comprehensive history of the Sephardi diaspora, only limited attention had been given to the distinctive Judeo-Spanish cultural entity that flourished in the Balkans and Asia Minor for more than four centuries. Yet the great majority of Sephardi Jews, after their expulsion from Spain in 1492 and subsequently from Portugal, found their way to this region, drawn by the political stability and relatively tolerant rule of the Ottoman Empire, as well as by promising socioeconomic conditions. Esther Benbassa and Aron Rodrigue show how Sephardi society and culture developed in the Levant, sharing language, religion, customs, and communal life as they did nowhere else, both during prosperous times and during the declining fortunes of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The impact of westernization, the end of Ottoman power, and the rise of fragmenting nation-states transformed this vital community in the modern era. And, like many other Jewish communities, the unique Judeo-Spanish culture was dispersed and destroyed by the Holocaust and the migrations of the twentieth century. Sephardi Jewry presents its vivid history in a readable, well-documented narrative.