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Exiles in Sepharad The Jewish Millennium in Spain

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  • Jeffrey Gorsky (author)
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About the Book

The dramatic one-thousand-year history of Jews in Spain comes to life in Exiles in Sepharad. Jeffrey Gorsky vividly relates this colorful period of Jewish history, from the era when Jewish culture was at its height in Muslim Spain to the horrors of the Inquisition and the Expulsion.

Twenty percent of Jews today are descended from Sephardic Jews, who created significant works in religion, literature, science, and philosophy. They flourished under both Muslim and Christian rule, enjoying prosperity and power unsurpassed in Europe. Their cultural contributions include important poets; the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides; and Moses de Leon, author of the Zohar, the core text of the Kabbalah.

But these Jews also endured considerable hardship. Fundamentalist Islamic tribes drove them from Muslim to Christian Spain. In 1391 thousands were killed and more than a third were forced to convert by anti-Jewish rioters. A century later the Spanish Inquisition began, accusing thousands of these converts of heresy. By the end of the fifteenth century Jews had been expelled from Spain and forcibly converted in Portugal and Navarre. After almost a millennium of harmonious existence, what had been the most populous and prosperous Jewish community in Europe ceased to exist on the Iberian Peninsula.

Praise

A personal and accessible narrative that tells a remarkable story yet is grounded in solid scholarship.

—Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, Sephardic Educational Center

With a broad scope that will appeal to a wide readership, this work will be useful as a comprehensive resource on the history of the Spanish Jews.

—Gregory B. Kaplan, author of Marginal Voices: Studies in Converso Literature of Medieval and Golden Age Spain 

A lucid, readable summary . . . that brings the key personalities to life and explores the intricate relationship between religious hatred, politics, and economics.

—Rabbi Hayyim Angel, National Scholar at the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals and professor of Bible at Yeshiva University

Jeffrey Gorsky

Jeffrey Gorsky is a lawyer and diplomat at the U.S. Department of State. He is a nationally recognized expert in immigration law, a former U.S. vice-consul in Bilbao, Spain, and a former Iberian intelligence analyst.

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Read an Excerpt.

Read Q & A with the author by Deborah Kalb.

Listen to interview with the author on Voice of America.