Sephar­di Fam­i­ly Life in the Ear­ly Mod­ern Diaspora

Julia R. Lieber­man, ed.
  • Review
By – August 29, 2011
Five stud­ies are col­lect­ed here, two of which appeared pre­vi­ous­ly in oth­er lan­guages. The focus is on a com­bi­na­tion of his­tor­i­cal issues that have all been neglect­ed until recent­ly. The his­to­ry of fam­i­lies and of chil­dren is a rel­a­tive­ly new field, and the his­to­ry of Ashke­naz­ic Jews is much bet­ter stud­ied than that of oth­er Jew­ish groups. Even the ear­ly mod­ern peri­od has only come into its own in recent decades as a peri­od of intense and cre­ative his­tor­i­cal study. Appro­pri­ate­ly, the arti­cles in Sephar­di Fam­i­ly Life are all fas­ci­nat­ing, draw­ing on a range of source mate­ri­als (Halakhic respon­sa, Inqui­si­tion records, com­mu­nal archives) and dis­ci­pli­nary approach­es.

The vol­ume explores the lives of Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492, and their descen­dants. The two pri­ma­ry dias­po­ras that emerged were in the east­ern basin of the Mediter­ranean, and in West­ern Europe (pri­mar­i­ly Hol­land, but also Italy and Ger­many). The vol­ume deals sep­a­rate­ly with each dias­po­ra, reflect­ing the deep dif­fer­ences that devel­oped between them. The lives of ordi­nary peo­ple, espe­cial­ly women and chil­dren, emerge from these arti­cles in flash­es of clar­i­ty, allow­ing the read­er glimpses of what is usu­al­ly lost to his­tor­i­cal memory.

Discussion Questions