After Expul­sion: 1492 and the Mak­ing of Sephardic Jewry

Jonathan Ray
  • Review
By – August 6, 2013

The expul­sion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 was an epoch-mak­ing event, and it has cast its shad­ow over our per­cep­tion of times before and after it. Jonathan Ray’s book peers into that shad­ow and pro­vides a detailed account of what actu­al­ly hap­pened in the months, years, and decades after the Edict of Expul­sion. Bring­ing togeth­er a wealth of recent schol­ar­ship in Eng­lish, Hebrew, and Span­ish, this book refines our under­stand­ing and loosens the hold of some of our pre­con­cep­tions. It shows, for exam­ple, how many Jews, alone or as clans or even entire com­mu­ni­ties, recon­sid­ered their deci­sion to leave Spain, and chose to return and pick up where they had left off while adopt­ing a new reli­gious iden­ti­ty as Chris­tians. The many spe­cif­ic details and anec­dotes pro­vide tex­ture to the account, empha­siz­ing the extent and com­plex­i­ty of human suf­fer­ing that result­ed from the Expul­sion, and which con­tin­ued to play out gen­er­a­tions after the event itself. Ray’s writ­ing is acces­si­ble to the wide vari­ety of read­ers who would ben­e­fit from this book’s por­tray­al of Jew­ish his­to­ry in the six­teenth century.

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