Crisis and Creativity in the Sephardic World, 1391-1648

Crisis and Creativity in the Sephardic World, 1391-1648

Crisis and Creativity in the Sephardic World, 1391-1648

Crisis and Creativity in the Sephardic World, 1391-1648

Synopsis

#Papers presented at a conference held in Nov., 1992.#Includes bibliographical references and index.

Excerpt

The year 1992 was filled with commemorations of an expansive moment in the unfolding drama of Western civilization—the “discovery” of the Americas by the much-heralded explorer Christopher Columbus. But 1992 also marked the passing of five hundred years since a dark episode in European history. On March 31, 1492, in the city of Granada, newly conquered from the Muslims, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand signed an edict banishing all Jews from their kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. Iberian (Sephardic) Jews, having reached heights of political, economic, and social integration rarely even imagined by their medieval coreligionists, had to confront and adjust to their precipitous decline.

This traumatic expulsion of Iberian Jewry, though overshadowed by the momentous linkage of the New and Old Worlds, is an event of great significance in Jewish—and world—history. While Jewish communities had faced the impending and often sudden dissolution of their age-old settlements, it was the expulsion of Jews from Castile, Aragon, Portugal, and Navarre in the late Middle Ages that—prior to this century—served as the most repercussive instance of Jewish catastrophe. Iberian Jewry was uprooted and dispersed, Sephardic Jewish communities were transposed and reconstituted, and Sephardic Jewish culture was apparently transformed.

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