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The Jewish Denominations | My Jewish Learning

Posted By on February 7, 2023

Jewish denominations also sometimes referred to as streams, movements or branches are the principal categories of religious affiliation among American Jews. The denominations are mainly distinguished from one another on the basis of their philosophical approaches to Jewish tradition, and their degree of fidelity to and interpretation of traditional Jewish law, or halacha.

Outside North America, the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism play a less significant role, and in Israel the vast majority of synagogues and other Jewish religious institutions are Orthodox, even though most Israeli Jews do not identify as Orthodox.

Evenwithin North America, the role of the movements has diminished somewhat in recent years, with growing numbers of American Jews and Jewish institutions identifying as just Jewish, nondenominational or transdenominational.

A participant marching with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in the Womens March in Washington, Jan. 21, 2017. (Jason Dixson Photography/Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism via Flickr)

The largest affiliation of American Jews, some 35 percent of Jews identify as Reform. The movement emphasizes the primacy of the Jewish ethical tradition over the obligations of Jewish law. The movement has traditionally sought to adapt Jewish tradition to modern sensibilities and sees itself as politically progressive and social-justice oriented while emphasizing personal choice in matters of ritual observance. Major institutions: Union for Reform Judaism, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institution of Religion, Religious Action Center, Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Raising the Torah scroll during morning services at Camp Solomon Schechter, a Conservative Jewish overnight camp in Tumwater, Washington, 2002. (Zion Ozeri/Jewish Lens)

Known as Masorti (traditional) Judaism outside of North America, Conservative Judaism sees Jewish law as obligatory, though in practice there is an enormous range of observance among Conservative Jews. The movement has historically represented a midpoint on the spectrum of observance between Orthodox and Reform, adopting certain innovations like driving to synagogue (but nowhere else) on Shabbat and gender-egalitarian prayer (in most Conservative synagogues), but maintaining the traditional line on other matters, like keeping kosher and intermarriage. (While it continues to bar its rabbis from officiating at interfaith weddings, the movement has liberalized its approach to intermarriage somewhat in recent years.) About 18 percent of American Jews identify as Conservative. Major institutions: Jewish Theological Seminary, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbinical Assembly, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.

Orthodox Jews are defined by their adherence to a traditional understanding of Jewish law as interpreted by rabbinic authorities over the centuries. Hallmarks of Orthodox religious life include strict observance of Shabbat (no driving, working, turning electricity on or off, or handling money) and of kosher laws. Though numerically the smallest of the big three some 10 percent of American Jews identify as Orthodox Orthodox Jews have larger than average families and their offspring are statistically more likely to remain observant Jews.

Unlike the Reform and Conservative movements, which have a recognized leadership that sets policy for movement-affiliated institutions, Orthodox Judaism is a looser category that can be further subdivided as follows:

Also known as centrist Orthodoxy, this movement was an effort to harmonize traditional observance of Jewish lawwith secular modernity. Its ideal is summed up in the motto of its flagship institution, New Yorks Yeshiva University: Torah Umadda (literally, Torah and secular knowledge). Major institutions: Yeshiva University, Rabbinical Council of America, Orthodox Union.

Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz, right, Mussie Alperowitz, left, and their two daughters walk in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, 2016. (Eliyahu Parypa/Chabad.org)

Typically marked by their distinctive black hats (for men) and modest attire (for women), haredi Orthodox Jews are the most stringent in their commitment to Jewish law and tend to have the lowest levels of interaction with the wider non-Jewish society. One major exception is Hasidic JudaismsChabad-Lubavitch sect, which is known for its outreach to the wider Jewish community. Haredi Orthodox Jews, who are represented in the United States by Agudath Israel of America, can be further subdivided into two principal groups:

Hasidic Jews are heirs of the spiritual revivalist movement that began in Eastern Europe in the 18th century and, drawing on the Jewish mystical tradition, emphasized direct communion with the divine through ecstatic prayer and joy in worship. There are a number of distinct sects, mostheaded by a charismatic rabbi, or rebbe, including Chabad, Satmar, Ger and Skver.

Sometimes also known as Litvish, these haredi Jews are heirs of the mitnagdim (literally opponents) who rejected the the rise of Hasidic Judaism in Europe. These Jews traditionally emphasized the intellectual aspects of Jewish life, particularly rigorous Talmud study for men. Yeshivish derives from the word yeshiva, or religious seminary.

The newest subset of Orthodoxy, Open Orthodox was founded in the 1990s by the New York Rabbi Avi Weiss. Its adherents, who consider the movement a reaction to a perceived shift to the right among the Modern Orthodox, generally support expanded roles for women in spiritual leadership and more openness to non-Orthodox Jews. Major Institutions: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Yeshivat Maharat

Following the thinking of its founder, Mordecai Kaplan, Reconstructionism holds that Judaism is the evolving civilization of the Jewish people. Its adherents hold varying opinions about the extent to which Jewish law, particularly the mitzvot, are obligatory. The movement is quite religiously progressive: Kaplan was the first American rabbi to preside over a public bat mitzvah celebration for his daughter, Judith, in 1922 and the movements rabbinical seminary was the first to accept openly gay students. The movements major institution is the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, based outside Philadelphia.

Jewish Renewal combines the ecstatic prayer of Hasidic Judaism with a contemporary ethos of gender egalitarianism, environmental consciousness, progressive politics and appreciation of religious diversity. Its spiritual father was the late Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, who was born into a Hasidic family in Europe but dabbled freely in the 1960s counterculture.

Founded in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine, this movement offers a nontheistic Judaism that is not based on divine revelation. Humanistic Jews celebrate Jewish culture, history and holidays without reference to God and emphasize a rationalist, human-centered ethics.

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The Jewish Denominations | My Jewish Learning

Jewish history – Wikipedia

Posted By on February 7, 2023

Jewish history is the history of the Jews, and their nation, religion, and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions, and cultures.

Jews are originated from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah, two related kingdoms that emerged in the Levant during the Iron Age.[1][2] Although the earliest mention of Israel is inscribed on the Merneptah Stele around 12131203 BCE, religious literature tells the story of Israelites going back at least as far as c. 1500 BCE. The Kingdom of Israel fell to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in around 720 BCE,[3] and the Kingdom of Judah to the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE.[4] Part of the Judean population was exiled to Babylon. The Assyrian and Babylonian captivities are regarded as representing the start of the Jewish diaspora.

After the Persian Achaemenid Empire conquered the region, the exiled Jews were allowed to return and rebuilt the temple; these events mark the beginning of the Second Temple period.[5][6] After several centuries of foreign rule, the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire led to an independent Hasmonean kingdom,[7] but it was gradually incorporated into Roman rule.[8] The Jewish-Roman wars, a series of unsuccessful revolts against the Romans in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple,[9] and the expulsion of many Jews.[10] The Jewish population in the Land of Israel gradually decreased during the following centuries, enhancing the role of the Jewish diaspora and shifting the spiritual and demographic center from the depopulated Judea to Galilee and then to Babylon, with smaller communities spread out across the Roman Empire. During the same period, the Mishnah and the Talmud, central Jewish texts, were composed. In the following millennia, the diaspora communities coalesced into three major ethnic subdivisions according to where their ancestors settled: the Ashkenazim (Central and Eastern Europe), the Sephardim (initially in the Iberian Peninsula), and the Mizrahim (Middle East and North Africa).[11][12]

Byzantine rule over the Levant was lost in the 7th century as the newly established Islamic Caliphate expanded into the Eastern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, North Africa and later into the Iberian Peninsula. Jewish culture enjoyed a golden age in Spain, with Jews becoming widely accepted in society and their religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed. However, in 1492 the Jews were forced to leave Spain and migrated in great numbers to the Ottoman Empire and Italy. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, Ashkenazi Jews experienced extreme persecution in Central Europe, which prompted their mass migration to Poland.[13][14] The 17th century saw the rise of the Haskalah intellectual movement, and in the 18th century, Jews began to campaign for Jewish emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society.

In the 19th century, when Jews in Western Europe were increasingly granted equality before the law, Jews in the Pale of Settlement faced growing persecution, legal restrictions and widespread pogroms. During the 1870s and 1880s, the Jewish population in Europe began to more actively discuss emigration to Ottoman Syria with the aim of re-establishing a Jewish polity in Palestine. The Zionist movement was officially founded in 1897. The pogroms also triggered a mass exodus of more than two million Jews to the United States between 1881 and 1924.[15] The Jews of Europe and the United States gained success in the fields of science, culture and the economy. Among those generally considered the most famous were Albert Einstein and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Many Nobel Prize winners at this time were Jewish, as is still the case.[16]

In 1933, with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, the Jewish situation became severe. Economic crises, racial anti-Semitic laws, and a fear of an upcoming war led many to flee from Europe to Mandatory Palestine, to the United States and to the Soviet Union. In 1939, World War II began and until 1941 Hitler occupied almost all of Europe. In 1941, following the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Final Solution began, an extensive organized operation on an unprecedented scale, aimed at the annihilation of the Jewish people, and resulting in the persecution and murder of Jews in Europe and North Africa. In Poland, three million were murdered in gas chambers in all concentration camps combined, with one million at the Auschwitz camp complex alone. This genocide, in which approximately six million Jews were methodically exterminated, is known as the Holocaust.

Before and during the Holocaust, enormous numbers of Jews immigrated to Mandatory Palestine. On May 14, 1948, upon the termination of the mandate, David Ben-Gurion declared the creation of the State of Israel, a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel. Immediately afterwards, all neighboring Arab states invaded, yet the newly formed IDF resisted. In 1949, the war ended and Israel started building the state and absorbing massive waves of Aliyah from all over the world. As of 2022, Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a population of 9.6 million people, of whom 7 million are Jewish. the largest Jewish community outside Israel is the United States, and large communities also exist in France, Canada, Argentina, Russia, United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany. For statistics related to modern Jewish demographics, see Jewish population.

The history of the Jews and Judaism can be divided into five periods: (1) ancient Israel before Judaism, from the beginnings to 586 BCE; (2) the beginning of Judaism in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE;[clarification needed] (3) the formation of rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE; (4) the age of rabbinic Judaism, from the ascension of Christianity to political power under the emperor Constantine the Great in 312 CE to the end of the political hegemony of Christianity in the 18th century; and (5), the age of diverse Judaisms, from the French and American Revolutions to the present.

The history of the early Jews, and their neighbors, centers on the Fertile Crescent and east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It begins among those people who occupied the area lying between the river Nile and Mesopotamia. Surrounded by ancient seats of culture in Egypt and Babylonia, by the deserts of Arabia, and by the highlands of Asia Minor, the land of Canaan (roughly corresponding to modern Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Lebanon) was a meeting place of civilizations.

The earliest recorded evidence of a people by the name of Israel appears in the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt, dated to about 1200 BCE. According to the modern archaeological account, the Israelites and their culture branched out of the Canaanite peoples and their cultures through the development of a distinct monolatristicand later monotheisticreligion centred on the national god Yahweh.[18][19][20] They spoke an archaic form of the Hebrew language, known today as Biblical Hebrew.[21]

The traditional religious view of Jews and Judaism of their own history was based on the narrative of the ancient Hebrew Bible. In this view Abraham signifying that he is both the biological progenitor of the Jews and the father of Judaism, the first Jew. Later, Isaac was born to Abraham, and Jacob was born to Isaac. Following a struggle with an angel, Jacob was given the name Israel. Following a severe drought, Jacob and his twelve sons fled to Egypt, where they eventually formed the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Israelites were later led out of slavery in Egypt and subsequently brought to Canaan by Moses; they eventually conquered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua.

Modern scholars agree that the Bible does not provide an authentic account of the Israelites' origins; the consensus supports that the archaeological evidence showing largely indigenous origins of Israel in Canaan, not Egypt, is "overwhelming" and leaves "no room for an Exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness".[23] Many archaeologists have abandoned the archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus as "a fruitless pursuit".[23] A century of research by archaeologists and Egyptologists has arguably found no evidence that can be directly related to the Exodus narrative of an Egyptian captivity and the escape and travels through the wilderness, leading to the suggestion that Iron Age Israelthe kingdoms of Judah and Israelhas its origins in Canaan, not in Egypt:[24][25] The culture of the earliest Israelite settlements is Canaanite, their cult-objects are those of the Canaanite god El, the pottery remains in the local Canaanite tradition, and the alphabet used is early Canaanite. Almost the sole marker distinguishing the "Israelite" villages from Canaanite sites is an absence of pig bones, although whether this can be taken as an ethnic marker or is due to other factors remains a matter of dispute.[26] However, it is accepted that this narrative does have a "historical core" to it.[27][29]

According to the Biblical narrative, the Land of Israel was organized into a confederacy of twelve tribes ruled by a series of Judges for several hundred years.

Two Israelite kingdoms emerged during the Iron Age II: Israel and Judah. The Bible portrays Israel and Judah as the successors of an earlier United Kingdom of Israel, although its historicity is disputed.[30][31] Historians and archaeologists agree that the northern Kingdom of Israel existed by ca. 900 BCE[1]:169195[32] and that the Kingdom of Judah existed by ca. 700 BCE.[2] The Tel Dan Stele, discovered in 1993, shows that the kingdom, at least in some form, existed by the middle of the 9th century BCE, but it does not indicate the extent of its power.[33][34][35]

Biblical tradition tells that the Israelite monarchy was established in 1037 BCE under Saul, and continued under David and his son, Solomon. David greatly expanded the kingdom's borders and conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites, turning it into the national, political and religious capital of the kingdom. Solomon, his son, later built the First Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Upon his death, traditionally dated to c. 930 BCE, a civil war erupted between the ten northern Israelite tribes, and the tribes of Judah (Simeon was absorbed into Judah) and Benjamin in the south. The kingdom then split into the Kingdom of Israel in the north, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south.

The Kingdom of Israel was the more prosperous of the two kingdoms and soon developed into a regional power. During the days of the Omride dynasty, it controlled Samaria, Galilee, the upper Jordan Valley, the Sharon and large parts of the Transjordan.[37] Samaria, the capital, was home to one of the largest Iron Age palaces in the Levant.[38][39] The kingdom of Israel was destroyed around 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[3]

The Kingdom of Judah, with its capital in Jerusalem, controlled the Judaean Mountains, the Shephelah, the Judaean Desert and parts of the Negev. After the fall of Israel, Judah became a client state of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. In the 7th century BCE, the kingdom's population increased greatly, prospering under Assyrian vassalage, despite Hezekiah's revolt against the Assyrian king Sennacherib.[40]

With the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 605 BCE, competition emerged between Egypt and the Neo-Babylonian Empire over control of the Levant, ultimately resulting in Judah's rapid decline. The early 6th century BCE saw a wave of Egyptian-backed Judahite rebellions against Babylonian rule being crushed. In 586 BCE, King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered Judah, and destroyed Jerusalem and the First Temple. The elite of the kingdom and many of their people were exiled to Babylon, where the religion developed outside the traditional temple. Others fled to Egypt. The defeat was also recorded in the Babylonian Chronicles.[41][42]

Large parts of the Hebrew Bible were written during this period. This include the earliest portions of Hosea, Isaiah, Amos and Micah, along with Nahum, Zephaniah, most of Deuteronomy, the first edition of the Deuteronomistic history (the books of Joshua/Judges/Samuel/Kings),[50] and Habakkuk.

The first Judahite communities in Babylonia started with the exile of the Tribe of Judah to Babylon by Jehoiachin in 597 BCE as well as after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE.[52] Babylonia, where some of the largest and most prominent Jewish cities and communities were established, became the center of Jewish life. A short time after this under the reign of Xerxes I of Persia, the events of the Book of Esther took place. Babylon remained as a hub of Jewish life all the way up to the 11th century, when the cultural and scholarship centrality began to move to Europe, as anti-Jewish waves initiated a rapid decline, not in numbers, but in centrality.[53] It continued to be a major Jewish center until the 13th century.[54] By the first century, Babylonia already held a speedily growing[52] population of an estimated 1,000,000 Judahites which increased to an estimated 2 million between the years 200 CE and 500 CE,[55] both by natural growth and by immigration of more Jews from the Land of Israel, making up about one sixth of the world Jewish population at that era.[55] It was there that they would write the Babylonian Talmud in the languages used by the Jews of ancient BabyloniaHebrew and Aramaic.

The Jews established Talmudic Academies in Babylonia, also known as the Geonic Academies, which became the center for Jewish scholarship and the development of Jewish law in Babylonia from roughly 500 CE to 1038 CE. The two most famous academies were the Pumbedita Academy and the Sura Academy. Major yeshivot were also located at Nehardea and Mahuza.[56]

After a few generations and with the conquest of Babylonia in 540 BCE by the Persian Empire, some adherents led by prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, returned to their homeland and traditional practices.[citation needed] Other Judeans[57] did not return.

Deuteronomy was expanded and earlier scriptures were edited during the exilic period. The first edition of Jeremiah, the Book of Ezekiel, the majority of Obadiah, and what is referred to in research as "Second Isaiah" were all written during this time period as well.

Following their return to Jerusalem after the return from the exile, and with Persian approval and financing, construction of the Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE under the leadership of the last three Jewish Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

The final Torah is widely seen as a product of the Persian period (539333 BCE, probably 450350 BCE). This consensus echoes a traditional Jewish view which gives Ezra, the leader of the Jewish community on its return from Babylon, a pivotal role in its promulgation.[59]

After the death of the last Jewish prophet and while still under Persian rule, the leadership of the Jewish people passed into the hands of five successive generations of zugot ("pairs of") leaders. They flourished first under the Persians and then under the Greeks. As a result, the Pharisees and Sadducees were formed. Under the Persians then under the Greeks, Jewish coins were minted in Judea as Yehud coinage.[citation needed]

In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great of Macedon defeated the Persians. After Alexander's death and the division of his empire among his generals, the Seleucid Kingdom was formed.

The Alexandrian conquests spread Greek culture to the Levant. During this time, currents of Judaism were influenced by Hellenistic philosophy developed from the 3rd century BCE, notably the Jewish diaspora in Alexandria, culminating in the compilation of the Septuagint. An important advocate of the symbiosis of Jewish theology and Hellenistic thought is Philo.

A deterioration of relations between Hellenized Jews and other Jews led the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes to issue decrees banning certain Jewish religious rites and traditions. Subsequently, some of the nonhellenized Jews revolted under the leadership of the Hasmonean family (also known as the Maccabees). This revolt eventually led to the formation of an independent Jewish kingdom, known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BCE to 63 BCE.[60] The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated as a result of civil war between the sons of Salome Alexandra; Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. The people, who did not want to be governed by a king but by theocratic clergy, made appeals in this spirit to the Roman authorities. A Roman campaign of conquest and annexation, led by Pompey, soon followed.[61]

Judea had been an independent Jewish kingdom under the Hasmoneans, but it was conquered and reorganized as a client state by the Roman general Pompey in 63 BCE. Roman expansion was going on in other areas as well, and it would continue for more than a hundred and fifty years. Later, Herod the Great was appointed "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate, supplanting the Hasmonean dynasty. Some of his offspring held various positions after him, known as the Herodian dynasty. Briefly, from 4 BCE to 6 CE, Herod Archelaus ruled the tetrarchy of Judea as ethnarch, the Romans denying him the title of King. After the Census of Quirinius in 6 CE, the Roman province of Judaea was formed as a satellite of Roman Syria under the rule of a prefect (as was Roman Egypt) until 41 CE, then procurators after 44 CE. The empire was often callous and brutal in its treatment of its Jewish subjects, (see Anti-Judaism in the pre-Christian Roman Empire). In 30 CE (or 33 CE), Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant rabbi from Galilee, and the central figure of Christianity, was put to death by crucifixion in Jerusalem under the Roman prefect of Judaea, Pontius Pilate.[62] In 66 CE, the Jews began to revolt against the Roman rulers of Judea. The revolt was defeated by the future Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus. In the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and, according to some accounts, plundered artifacts from the temple, such as the Menorah. Jews continued to live in their land in significant numbers, the Kitos War of 115117 CE notwithstanding, until Julius Severus ravaged Judea while putting down the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132136 CE. Nine hundred eighty-five villages were destroyed and most of the Jewish population of central Judaea was essentially wiped out, killed, sold into slavery, or forced to flee.[63] Banished from Jerusalem, except for the day of Tisha B'Av, the Jewish population now centred on Galilee and initially in Yavne. Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina and Judea was renamed Syria Palestina, to spite the Jews by naming it after their ancient enemies, the Philistines.[citation needed]

The Jewish diaspora began during the Assyrian conquest and it continued on a much larger scale during the Babylonian conquest, during which the Tribe of Judah was exiled to Babylonia along with the dethroned King of Judah, Jehoiachin, in the 6th century BCE, and taken into captivity in 597 BCE. The exile continued after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE.[52] Many more Jews migrated to Babylon in 135 CE after the Bar Kokhba revolt and in the centuries after.[52]

Many of the Judaean Jews were sold into slavery while others became citizens of other parts of the Roman Empire.[citation needed] The book of Acts in the New Testament, as well as other Pauline texts, make frequent reference to the large populations of Hellenised Jews in the cities of the Roman world. These Hellenised Jews were affected by the diaspora only in its spiritual sense, absorbing the feeling of loss and homelessness that became a cornerstone of the Jewish creed, much supported by persecutions in various parts of the world.

Of critical importance to the reshaping of Jewish tradition from the Temple-based religion to the rabbinic traditions of the Diaspora, was the development of the interpretations of the Torah found in the Mishnah and Talmud.

Cochin Jewish tradition holds that the roots of their community go back to the arrival of Jews at Shingly in 72 CE., after the Destruction of the Second Temple. It also states that a Jewish kingdom, understood to mean the granting of autonomy by a local king, Cheraman Perumal, to the community, under their leader Joseph Rabban, in 379 CE. The first synagogue there was built in 1568. The legend of the founding of Indian Christianity in Kerala by Thomas the Apostle relates that on his arrival there, he encountered a local girl who understood Hebrew.[64]

The relations of the Jews with the Roman Empire in the region continued to be complicated. Constantine I allowed Jews to mourn their defeat and humiliation once a year on Tisha B'Av at the Western Wall. In 351352 CE, the Jews of Galilee launched yet another revolt, provoking heavy retribution.[65] The Gallus revolt came during the rising influence of early Christians in the Eastern Roman Empire, under the Constantinian dynasty. In 355, however, the relations with the Roman rulers improved, upon the rise of Emperor Julian, the last of the Constantinian dynasty, who unlike his predecessors defied Christianity. In 363, not long before Julian left Antioch to launch his campaign against Sasanian Persia, in keeping with his effort to foster religions other than Christianity, he ordered the Jewish Temple rebuilt.[66] The failure to rebuild the Temple has mostly been ascribed to the dramatic Galilee earthquake of 363 and traditionally also to the Jews' ambivalence about the project. Sabotage is a possibility, as is an accidental fire. Divine intervention was the common view among Christian historians of the time.[67] Julian's support of Jews caused Jews to call him "Julian the Hellene".[68] Julian's fatal wound in the Persian campaign and his consequent death had put an end to Jewish aspirations, and Julian's successors embraced Christianity through the entire timeline of Byzantine rule of Jerusalem, preventing any Jewish claims.

In 438 CE, when the Empress Eudocia removed the ban on Jews' praying at the Temple site, the heads of the Community in Galilee issued a call "to the great and mighty people of the Jews" which began: "Know that the end of the exile of our people has come!" However, the Christian population of the city, who saw this as a threat to their primacy, didn't allow it and a riot erupted after which they chased away the Jews from the city.[69][70]

During the 5th and the 6th centuries, a series of Samaritan insurrections broke out across the Palaestina Prima province. Especially violent were the third and the fourth revolts, which resulted in almost the entire annihilation of the Samaritan community. It is likely that the Samaritan Revolt of 556 was joined by the Jewish community, which had also suffered a brutal suppression of Israelite religion.

In the belief of restoration to come, in the early 7th century the Jews made an alliance with the Persians, who invaded Palaestina Prima in 614, fought at their side, overwhelmed the Byzantine garrison in Jerusalem, and were given Jerusalem to be governed as an autonomy.[71] However, their autonomy was brief: the Jewish leader in Jerusalem was shortly assassinated during a Christian revolt and though Jerusalem was reconquered by Persians and Jews within 3 weeks, it fell into anarchy. With the consequent withdrawal of Persian forces, Jews surrendered to Byzantines in 625 or 628 CE, but were massacred by Christian radicals in 629 CE, with the survivors fleeing to Egypt. The Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) control of the region was finally lost to the Muslim Arab armies in 637 CE, when Umar ibn al-Khattab completed the conquest of Akko.

After the fall of Jerusalem, Babylonia (modern day Iraq) would become the focus of Judaism for more than a thousand years. The first Jewish communities in Babylonia started with the exile of the Tribe of Judah to Babylon by Jehoiachin in 597 BCE as well as after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE.[52] Many more Jews migrated to Babylon in 135 CE after the Bar Kokhba revolt and in the centuries after.[52] Babylonia, where some of the largest and most prominent Jewish cities and communities were established, became the center of Jewish life all the way up to the 13th century. By the first century, Babylonia already held a speedily growing[52] population of an estimated 1,000,000 Jews, which increased to an estimated 2 million[55] between the years 200 CE and 500 CE, both by natural growth and by immigration of more Jews from the Land of Israel, making up about 1/6 of the world Jewish population at that era.[55] It was there that they would write the Babylonian Talmud in the languages used by the Jews of ancient Babylonia: Hebrew and Aramaic. The Jews established Talmudic Academies in Babylonia, also known as the Geonic Academies ("Geonim" meaning "splendour" in Biblical Hebrew or "geniuses"), which became the center for Jewish scholarship and the development of Jewish law in Babylonia from roughly 500 CE to 1038 CE. The two most famous academies were the Pumbedita Academy and the Sura Academy. Major yeshivot were also located at Nehardea and Mahuza. The Talmudic Yeshiva Academies became a main part of Jewish culture and education, and Jews continued establishing Yeshiva Academies in Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa, and in later centuries, in America and other countries around the world where Jews lived in the Diaspora. Talmudic study in Yeshiva academies, most of them located in The United States and Israel, continues today.

These Talmudic Yeshiva academies of Babylonia followed the era of the Amoraim ("expounders")the sages of the Talmud who were active (both in the Land of Israel and in Babylon) during the end of the era of the sealing of the Mishnah and until the times of the sealing of the Talmud (220CE 500CE), and following the Savoraim ("reasoners")the sages of beth midrash (Torah study places) in Babylon from the end of the era of the Amoraim (5th century) and until the beginning of the era of the Geonim. The Geonim (Hebrew: ) were the presidents of the two great rabbinical colleges of Sura and Pumbedita, and were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the worldwide Jewish community in the early medieval era, in contrast to the Resh Galuta (Exilarch) who wielded secular authority over the Jews in Islamic lands. According to traditions, the Resh Galuta were descendants of Judean kings, which is why the kings of Parthia would treat them with much honour.[72]

For the Jews of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, the yeshivot of Babylonia served much the same function as the ancient Sanhedrinthat is, as a council of Jewish religious authorities. The academies were founded in pre-Islamic Babylonia under the Zoroastrian Sassanid dynasty and were located not far from the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon, which at that time was the largest city in the world. After the conquest of Persia in the 7th century, the academies subsequently operated for four hundred years under the Islamic caliphate. The first gaon of Sura, according to Sherira Gaon, was Mar bar Rab Chanan, who assumed office in 609. The last gaon of Sura was Samuel ben Hofni, who died in 1034; the last gaon of Pumbedita was Hezekiah Gaon, who was tortured to death in 1040; hence the activity of the Geonim covers a period of nearly 450 years.

One of principal seats of Babylonian Judaism was Nehardea, which was then a very large city made up mostly of Jews.[52] A very ancient synagogue, built, it was believed, by King Jehoiachin, existed in Nehardea. At Huzal, near Nehardea, there was another synagogue, not far from which could be seen the ruins of Ezra's academy. In the period before Hadrian, Akiba, on his arrival at Nehardea on a mission from the Sanhedrin, entered into a discussion with a resident scholar on a point of matrimonial law (Mishnah Yeb., end). At the same time there was at Nisibis (northern Mesopotamia), an excellent Jewish college, at the head of which stood Judah ben Bathyra, and in which many Judean scholars found refuge at the time of the persecutions. A certain temporary importance was also attained by a school at Nehar-Pekod, founded by the Judean immigrant Hananiah, nephew of Joshua ben Hananiah, which school might have been the cause of a schism between the Jews of Babylonia and those of Judea-Israel, had not the Judean authorities promptly checked Hananiah's ambition.

Jews were also widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. The militant and exclusive Christianity and caesaropapism of the Byzantine Empire did not treat Jews well, and the condition and influence of diaspora Jews in the Empire declined dramatically.

It was official Christian policy to convert Jews to Christianity, and the Christian leadership used the official power of Rome in their attempts. In 351 CE the Jews revolted against the added pressures of their Governor, Constantius Gallus. Gallus put down the revolt and destroyed the major cities in the Galilee area where the revolt had started. Tzippori and Lydda (site of two of the major legal academies) never recovered.

In this period, the Nasi in Tiberias, Hillel II, created an official calendar, which needed no monthly sightings of the moon. The months were set, and the calendar needed no further authority from Judea. At about the same time, the Jewish academy at Tiberius began to collate the combined Mishnah, braitot, explanations, and interpretations developed by generations of scholars who studied after the death of Judah HaNasi. The text was organized according to the order of the Mishna: each paragraph of Mishnah was followed by a compilation of all of the interpretations, stories, and responses associated with that Mishnah. This text is called the Jerusalem Talmud.

The Jews of Judea received a brief respite from official persecution during the rule of the Emperor Julian the Apostate. Julian's policy was to return the Roman Empire to Hellenism, and he encouraged the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem. As Julian's rule lasted only from 361 to 363, the Jews could not rebuild sufficiently before Roman Christian rule was restored over the Empire. Beginning in 398 with the consecration of St. John Chrysostom as Patriarch, Christian rhetoric against Jews grew sharper; he preached sermons with titles such as "Against the Jews" and "On the Statues, Homily 17," in which John preaches against "the Jewish sickness".[73] Such heated language contributed to a climate of Christian distrust and hate toward the large Jewish settlements, such as those in Antioch and Constantinople.

In the beginning of the 5th century, the Emperor Theodosius issued a set of decrees establishing official persecution of Jews. Jews were not allowed to own slaves, build new synagogues, hold public office or try cases between a Jew and a non-Jew. Intermarriage between Jew and non-Jew was made a capital offence, as was the conversion of Christians to Judaism. Theodosius did away with the Sanhedrin and abolished the post of Nasi. Under the Emperor Justinian, the authorities further restricted the civil rights of Jews,[74] and threatened their religious privileges.[75] The emperor interfered in the internal affairs of the synagogue,[76] and forbade, for instance, the use of the Hebrew language in divine worship. Those who disobeyed the restrictions were threatened with corporal penalties, exile, and loss of property. The Jews at Borium, not far from Syrtis Major, who resisted the Byzantine General Belisarius in his campaign against the Vandals, were forced to embrace Christianity, and their synagogue was converted to a church.[77]

Justinian and his successors had concerns outside the province of Judea, and he had insufficient troops to enforce these regulations. As a result, the 5th century was a period when a wave of new synagogues were built, many with beautiful mosaic floors. Jews adopted the rich art forms of the Byzantine culture. Jewish mosaics of the period portray people, animals, menorahs, zodiacs, and Biblical characters. Excellent examples of these synagogue floors have been found at Beit Alpha (which includes the scene of Abraham sacrificing a ram instead of his son Isaac along with a zodiac), Tiberius, Beit Shean, and Tzippori.

The precarious existence of Jews under Byzantine rule did not long endure, largely due to the explosion of the Muslim religion out of the remote Arabian peninsula (where large populations of Jews resided, see History of the Jews under Muslim Rule for more). The Muslim Caliphate ejected the Byzantines from the Holy Land (or the Levant, defined as modern Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) within a few years of their victory at the Battle of Yarmouk in 636. Numerous Jews fled the remaining Byzantine territories in favour of residence in the Caliphate over the subsequent centuries.

The size of the Jewish community in the Byzantine Empire was not affected by attempts by some emperors (most notably Justinian) to forcibly convert the Jews of Anatolia to Christianity, as these attempts met with very little success.[78] Historians continue to research the status of the Jews in Asia Minor under Byzantine rule. (for a sample of views, see, for instance, J. Starr The Jews in the Byzantine Empire, 6411204; S. Bowman, The Jews of Byzantium; R. Jenkins Byzantium; Averil Cameron, "Byzantines and Jews: Recent Work on Early Byzantium", Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 20 (1996)). No systematic persecution of the type endemic at that time in Western Europe (pogroms, the stake, mass expulsions, etc.) has been recorded in Byzantium.[79] Much of the Jewish population of Constantinople remained in place after the conquest of the city by Mehmet II.[citation needed]

Perhaps in the 4th century, the Kingdom of Semien, a Jewish nation in modern Ethiopia was established, lasting until the 17th century[citation needed].

In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. As a political system, Islam created radically new conditions for Jewish economic, social, and intellectual development.[80] Caliph Omar permitted the Jews to reestablish their presence in Jerusalemafter a lapse of 500 years.[81] Jewish tradition regards Caliph Omar as a benevolent ruler and the Midrash (Nistarot de-Rav Shimon bar Yoai) refers to him as a "friend of Israel."[81]

According to the Arab geographer Al-Muqaddasi, the Jews worked as "the assayers of coins, the dyers, the tanners and the bankers in the community".[82] During the Fatimid period, many Jewish officials served in the regime.[82] Professor Moshe Gil believes that at the time of the Arab conquest in the 7th century CE, the majority of the population was Christian and Jewish.[83]

During this time Jews lived in thriving communities all across ancient Babylonia. In the Geonic period (6501250 CE), the Babylonian Yeshiva Academies were the chief centers of Jewish learning; the Geonim (meaning either "Splendor" or "Geniuses"), who were the heads of these schools, were recognized as the highest authorities in Jewish law.

In the 7th century, the new Muslim rulers institute the kharaj land tax, which led to mass migration of Babylonian Jews from the countryside to cities like Baghdad. This in turn led to greater wealth and international influence, as well as a more cosmopolitan outlook from Jewish thinkers such as Saadiah Gaon, who now deeply engaged with Western philosophy for the first time. When the Abbasid Caliphate and the city of Baghdad declined in the 10th century, many Babylonian Jews migrated to the Mediterranean region, contributing to the spread of Babylonian Jewish customs throughout the Jewish world.[84]

The golden age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.

A period of tolerance thus dawned for the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula, whose number was considerably augmented by immigration from Africa in the wake of the Muslim conquest. Especially after 912, during the reign of Abd-ar-Rahman III and his son, Al-Hakam II, the Jews prospered, devoting themselves to the service of the Caliphate of Cordoba, to the study of the sciences, and to commerce and industry, especially to trading in silk and slaves, in this way promoting the prosperity of the country. Jewish economic expansion was unparalleled. In Toledo, Jews were involved in translating Arabic texts to the Romance languages, as well as translating Greek and Hebrew texts into Arabic. Jews also contributed to botany, geography, medicine, mathematics, poetry and philosophy.[85][86]

Generally, the Jewish people were allowed to practice their religion and live according to the laws and scriptures of their community. Furthermore, the restrictions to which they were subject were social and symbolic rather than tangible and practical in character. That is to say, these regulations served to define the relationship between the two communities, and not to oppress the Jewish population.[87]

'Abd al-Rahman's court physician and minister was Hasdai ben Isaac ibn Shaprut, the patron of Menahem ben Saruq, Dunash ben Labrat, and other Jewish scholars and poets. Jewish thought during this period flourished under famous figures such as Samuel Ha-Nagid, Moses ibn Ezra, Solomon ibn Gabirol Judah Halevi and Moses Maimonides.[85] During 'Abd al-Rahman's term of power, the scholar Moses ben Enoch was appointed rabbi of Crdoba, and as a consequence al-Andalus became the center of Talmudic study, and Crdoba the meeting-place of Jewish savants.

The Golden Age ended with the invasion of al-Andalus by the Almohades, a conservative dynasty originating in North Africa, who were highly intolerant of religious minorities.

Sermonical messages to avenge the death of Jesus encouraged Christians to participate in the Crusades. The twelfth century Jewish narration from R. Solomon ben Samson records that crusaders en route to the Holy Land decided that before combating the Ishmaelites they would massacre the Jews residing in their midst to avenge the crucifixion of Christ. The massacres began at Rouen and Jewish communities in Rhine Valley were seriously affected.[88]

Crusading attacks were made upon Jews in the territory around Heidelberg. A huge loss of Jewish life took place. Many were forcibly converted to Christianity and many committed suicide to avoid baptism. A major driving factor behind the choice to commit suicide was the Jewish realisation that upon being slain their children could be taken to be raised as Christians. The Jews were living in the middle of Christian lands and felt this danger acutely.[89] This massacre is seen as the first in a sequence of anti-Semitic events which culminated in the Holocaust.[90] Jewish populations felt that they had been abandoned by their Christian neighbors and rulers during the massacres and lost faith in all promises and charters.[91]

Many Jews chose self-defence. But their means of self-defence were limited and their casualties only increased. Most of the forced conversions proved ineffective. Many Jews reverted to their original faith later. The pope protested this but Emperor Henry IV agreed to permitting these reversions.[88] The massacres began a new epoch for Jewry in Christendom. The Jews had preserved their faith from social pressure, now they had to preserve it at sword point. The massacres during the crusades strengthened Jewry from within spiritually. The Jewish perspective was that their struggle was Israel's struggle to hallow the name of God.[92]

In 1099, Jews helped the Arabs to defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders. When the city fell, the Crusaders gathered many Jews in a synagogue and set it on fire.[88] In Haifa, the Jews almost single-handedly defended the town against the Crusaders, holding out for a month, (JuneJuly 1099).[82] At this time there were Jewish communities scattered all over the country, including Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza. As Jews were not allowed to hold land during the Crusader period, they worked at trades and commerce in the coastal towns during times of quiescence. Most were artisans: glassblowers in Sidon, furriers and dyers in Jerusalem.[82]

During this period, the Masoretes of Tiberias established the niqqud, a system of diacritical signs used to represent vowels or distinguish between alternative pronunciations of letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Numerous piyutim and midrashim were recorded in Palestine at this time.[82]

Maimonides wrote that in 1165 he visited Jerusalem and went to the Temple Mount, where he prayed in the "great, holy house".[93] Maimonides established a yearly holiday for himself and his sons, the 6th of Cheshvan, commemorating the day he went up to pray on the Temple Mount, and another, the 9th of Cheshvan, commemorating the day he merited to pray at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

In 1141 Yehuda Halevi issued a call to Jews to emigrate to the land of Israel and took on the long journey himself. After a stormy passage from Crdoba, he arrived in Egyptian Alexandria, where he was enthusiastically greeted by friends and admirers. At Damietta, he had to struggle against his heart, and the pleadings of his friend alfon ha-Levi, that he remain in Egypt, where he would be free from intolerant oppression. He started on the rough route overland. He was met along the way by Jews in Tyre and Damascus. Jewish legend relates that as he came near Jerusalem, overpowered by the sight of the Holy City, he sang his most beautiful elegy, the celebrated "Zionide" (Zion ha-lo Tish'ali). At that instant, an Arab had galloped out of a gate and rode him down; he was killed in the accident.[citation needed]

Nahmanides is recorded as settling in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1267. He moved to Acre, where he was active in spreading Jewish learning, which was at that time neglected in the Holy Land. He gathered a circle of pupils around him, and people came in crowds, even from the district of the Euphrates, to hear him. Karaites were said to have attended his lectures, among them Aaron ben Joseph the Elder. He later became one of the greatest Karaite authorities. Shortly after Nahmanides' arrival in Jerusalem, he addressed a letter to his son Nahman, in which he described the desolation of the Holy City. At the time, it had only two Jewish inhabitantstwo brothers, dyers by trade. In a later letter from Acre, Nahmanides counsels his son to cultivate humility, which he considers to be the first of virtues. In another, addressed to his second son, who occupied an official position at the Castilian court, Nahmanides recommends the recitation of the daily prayers and warns above all against immorality. Nahmanides died after reaching seventy-six, and his remains were interred at Haifa, by the grave of Yechiel of Paris.

Yechiel had emigrated to Acre in 1260, along with his son and a large group of followers.[94][95] There he established the Talmudic academy Midrash haGadol d'Paris.[96] He is believed to have died there between 1265 and 1268. In 1488 Obadiah ben Abraham, commentator on the Mishnah, arrived in Jerusalem; this marked a new period of return for the Jewish community in the land.

During the Middle Ages, Jews were generally better treated by Islamic rulers than Christian ones. Despite second-class citizenship, Jews played prominent roles in Muslim courts, and experienced a Golden Age in Moorish Spain about 9001100, though the situation deteriorated after that time. Riots resulting in the deaths of Jews did however occur in North Africa through the centuries and especially in Morocco, Libya and Algeria, where eventually Jews were forced to live in ghettos.[97]

During the 11th century, Muslims in Spain conducted pogroms against the Jews; those occurred in Cordoba in 1011 and in Granada in 1066.[98] During the Middle Ages, the governments of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen enacted decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues. At certain times, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in some parts of Yemen, Morocco and Baghdad.[99][bettersourceneeded] The Almohads, who had taken control of much of Islamic Iberia by 1172, surpassed the Almoravides in fundamentalist outlook. They treated the dhimmis harshly. They expelled both Jews and Christians from Morocco and Islamic Spain. Faced with the choice of death or conversion, many Jews emigrated.[100] Some, such as the family of Maimonides, fled south and east to more tolerant Muslim lands, while others went northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms.[101][102][bettersourceneeded]

According to the American writer James Carroll, "Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million."[103]

Jewish populations have existed in Europe, especially in the area of the former Roman Empire, from very early times. As Jewish males had emigrated, some sometimes took wives from local populations, as is shown by the various MtDNA, compared to Y-DNA among Jewish populations.[104] These groups were joined by traders and later on by members of the diaspora.[citation needed] Records of Jewish communities in France (see History of the Jews in France) and Germany (see History of the Jews in Germany) date from the 4th century, and substantial Jewish communities in Spain were noted even earlier.[citation needed]

The historian Norman Cantor and other 20th-century scholars dispute the tradition that the Middle Ages was a uniformly difficult time for Jews. Before the Church became fully organized as an institution with an increasing array of rules, early medieval society was tolerant. Between 800 and 1100, an estimated 1.5 million Jews lived in Christian Europe. As they were not Christians, they were not included as a division of the feudal system of clergy, knights and serfs. This means that they did not have to satisfy the oppressive demands for labor and military conscription that Christian commoners suffered. In relations with the Christian society, the Jews were protected by kings, princes and bishops, because of the crucial services they provided in three areas: finance, administration and medicine.[105] The lack of political strengths did leave Jews vulnerable to exploitation through extreme taxation.[106]

Christian scholars interested in the Bible consulted with Talmudic rabbis. As the Roman Catholic Church strengthened as an institution, the Franciscan and Dominican preaching orders were founded, and there was a rise of competitive middle-class, town-dwelling Christians. By 1300, the friars and local priests staged the Passion Plays during Holy Week, which depicted Jews (in contemporary dress) killing Christ, according to Gospel accounts. From this period, persecution of Jews and deportations became endemic. Around 1500, Jews found relative security and a renewal of prosperity in present-day Poland.[105]

After 1300, Jews suffered more discrimination and persecution in Christian Europe. Europe's Jewry was mainly urban and literate. The Christians were inclined to regard Jews as obstinate deniers of the truth because in their view the Jews were expected to know of the truth of the Christian doctrines from their knowledge of the Jewish scriptures. Jews were aware of the pressure to accept Christianity.[107] As Catholics were forbidden by the church to loan money for interest, some Jews became prominent moneylenders. Christian rulers gradually saw the advantage of having such a class of people who could supply capital for their use without being liable to excommunication. As a result, the money trade of western Europe became a specialty of the Jews. But, in almost every instance when Jews acquired large amounts through banking transactions, during their lives or upon their deaths, the king would take it over.[108] Jews became imperial "servi camer", the property of the King, who might present them and their possessions to princes or cities.

Jews were frequently massacred and exiled from various European countries. The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the People's Crusade (1096) flourishing Jewish communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. They were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds' Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by massive expulsions, including the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290;[109] in 1396 100,000 Jews were expelled from France; and in 1421, thousands were expelled from Austria. Over this time many Jews in Europe, either fleeing or being expelled, migrated to Poland, where they prospered into another Golden Age.

Historians who study modern Jewry have identified four different paths by which European Jews were "modernized" and thus integrated into the mainstream of European society. A common approach has been to view the process through the lens of the European Enlightenment as Jews faced the promise and the challenges posed by political emancipation. Scholars that use this approach have focused on two social types as paradigms for the decline of Jewish tradition and as agents of the sea changes in Jewish culture that led to the collapse of the ghetto. The first of these two social types is the Court Jew who is portrayed as a forerunner of the modern Jew, having achieved integration with and participation in the proto-capitalist economy and court society of central European states such as the Habsburg Empire. In contrast to the cosmopolitan Court Jew, the second social type presented by historians of modern Jewry is the maskil, (learned person), a proponent of the Haskalah (Enlightenment). This narrative sees the maskil's pursuit of secular scholarship and his rationalistic critiques of rabbinic tradition as laying a durable intellectual foundation for the secularization of Jewish society and culture. The established paradigm has been one in which Ashkenazic Jews entered modernity through a self-conscious process of westernization led by "highly atypical, Germanized Jewish intellectuals". Haskalah gave birth to the Reform and Conservative movements and planted the seeds of Zionism while at the same time encouraging cultural assimilation into the countries in which Jews resided.[110]At around the same time that Haskalah was developing, Hasidic Judaism was spreading as a movement that preached a world view almost opposed to the Haskalah.

In the 1990s, the concept of the "Port Jew" has been suggested as an "alternate path to modernity" that was distinct from the European Haskalah. In contrast to the focus on Ashkenazic Germanized Jews, the concept of the Port Jew focused on the Sephardi conversos who fled the Inquisition and resettled in European port towns on the coast of the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Eastern seaboard of the United States.[111]

Court Jews were Jewish bankers or businessmen who lent money and handled the finances of some of the Christian European noble houses. Corresponding historical terms are Jewish bailiff and shtadlan.

Examples of what would be later called court Jews emerged when local rulers used services of Jewish bankers for short-term loans. They lent money to nobles and in the process gained social influence. Noble patrons of court Jews employed them as financiers, suppliers, diplomats and trade delegates. Court Jews could use their family connections, and connections between each other, to provision their sponsors with, among other things, food, arms, ammunition and precious metals. In return for their services, court Jews gained social privileges, including up to noble status for themselves, and could live outside the Jewish ghettos. Some nobles wanted to keep their bankers in their own courts. And because they were under noble protection, they were exempted from rabbinical jurisdiction.

From medieval times, court Jews could amass personal fortunes and gained political and social influence. Sometimes they were also prominent people in the local Jewish community and could use their influence to protect and influence their brethren. Sometimes they were the only Jews who could interact with the local high society and present petitions of the Jews to the ruler. However, the court Jew had social connections and influence in the Christian world mainly through his Christian patrons. Due to the precarious position of Jews, some nobles could just ignore their debts. If the sponsoring noble died, his Jewish financier could face exile or execution.[citation needed]

Significant repression of Spain's numerous community occurred during the 14th century, notably a major pogrom in 1391 which resulted in the majority of Spain's 300,000 Jews converting to Catholicism. With the conquest of the Muslim Kingdom of Granada in 1492, the Catholic monarchs issued the Alhambra Decree whereby Spain's remaining 100,000 Jews were forced to choose between conversion and exile. As a result, an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Jews left Spain, the remainder joining Spain's already numerous Converso community. Perhaps a quarter of a million Conversos thus were gradually absorbed by the dominant Catholic culture, although those among them who secretly practiced Judaism were subject to 40 years of intense repression by the Spanish Inquisition. This was particularly the case up until 1530, after which the trials of Conversos by the Inquisition dropped to 3% of the total. Similar expulsions of Sephardic Jews occurred 1493 in Sicily (37,000 Jews) and Portugal in 1496. The expelled Spanish Jews fled mainly to the Ottoman Empire and North Africa and Portugal. A small number also settled in Holland and England.

The Port Jew is a descriptive term for Jews who were involved in the seafaring and maritime economy of Europe, especially during the 17th and 18th centuries. Helen Fry suggests that they can be considered "the earliest modern Jews". According to Fry, Port Jews frequently arrived as "refugees from the Inquisition" and the expulsion of Jews from Iberia. They were allowed to settle in port cities because merchants granted them permission to trade in ports such as Amsterdam, London, Trieste and Hamburg. Fry notes that their connections to the Jewish Diaspora and their expertise in maritime trade made them particularly valuable to the mercantilist governments of Europe.[111] Lois Dubin describes Port Jews as Jewish merchants who were "valued for their engagement in the international maritime trade upon which such cities thrived".[112] Sorkin and others have characterized the socio-cultural profile of these men as marked by a flexibility towards religion and a "reluctant cosmopolitanism that was alien to both traditional and 'enlightened' Jewish identities".

From the 16th to the 18th century, Jewish merchants dominated the chocolate and vanilla trade, exporting to Jewish centers across Europe, mainly Amsterdam, Bayonne, Bordeaux, Hamburg and Livorno.[113]

During the Classical Ottoman period (13001600), the Jews, together with most other communities of the empire, enjoyed a certain level of prosperity. Compared with other Ottoman subjects, they were the predominant power in commerce and trade as well in diplomacy and other high offices. In the 16th century especially, the Jews were the most prominent under the millets, the apogee of Jewish influence could arguably be the appointment of Joseph Nasi to Sanjak-bey (governor, a rank usually only bestowed upon Muslims) of the island of Naxos.[114]

At the time of the Battle of Yarmuk when the Levant passed under Muslim Rule, thirty Jewish communities existed in Haifa, Shchem, Hebron, Ramleh, Gaza, Jerusalem, and many in the north. Safed became a spiritual centre for the Jews and the Shulchan Aruch was compiled there as well as many Kabbalistic texts. The first Hebrew printing press, and the first printing in Western Asia began in 1577.

Jews lived in the geographic area of Asia Minor (modern Turkey, but more geographically either Anatolia or Asia Minor) for more than 2,400 years. Initial prosperity in Hellenistic times had faded under Christian Byzantine rule, but recovered somewhat under the rule of the various Muslim governments that displaced and succeeded rule from Constantinople. For much of the Ottoman period, Turkey was a safe haven for Jews fleeing persecution, and it continues to have a small Jewish population today. The situation where Jews both enjoyed cultural and economical prosperity at times but were widely persecuted at other times was summarised by G.E. Von Grunebaum:

It would not be difficult to put together the names of a very sizeable number of Jewish subjects or citizens of the Islamic area who have attained to high rank, to power, to great financial influence, to significant and recognized intellectual attainment; and the same could be done for Christians. But it would again not be difficult to compile a lengthy list of persecutions, arbitrary confiscations, attempted forced conversions, or pogroms.[115]

In the 17th century, there were many significant Jewish populations in Western and Central Europe. The relatively tolerant Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe that dated back to 13th century and enjoyed relative prosperity and freedom for nearly four hundred years. However, the calm situation ended when Polish and Lithuanian Jews of the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth were slaughtered in the hundreds of thousands by Ukrainian Cossacks during the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648) and by the Swedish wars (1655). Driven by these and other persecutions, some Jews moved back to Western Europe in the 17th century, notably to Amsterdam. The last ban on Jewish residency in a European nation was revoked in 1654, but periodic expulsions from individual cities still occurred, and Jews were often restricted from land ownership, or forced to live in ghettos.

With the Partitions of Poland in the late 18th century, the Polish-Jewish population was split between the Russian Empire, Austria-Hungary, and German Prussia, which divided Poland among themselves.

During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes occurred within the Jewish community. The Haskalah movement paralleled the wider Enlightenment, as Jews in the 18th century began to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. Secular and scientific education was added to the traditional religious instruction received by students, and interest in a national Jewish identity, including a revival in the study of Jewish history and Hebrew, started to grow. Haskalah gave birth to the Reform and Conservative movements and planted the seeds of Zionism while at the same time encouraging cultural assimilation into the countries in which Jews resided. At around the same time another movement was born, one preaching almost the opposite of Haskalah, Hasidic Judaism. Hasidic Judaism began in the 18th century by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, and quickly gained a following with its more exuberant, mystical approach to religion. These two movements, and the traditional orthodox approach to Judaism from which they spring, formed the basis for the modern divisions within Jewish observance.

At the same time, the outside world was changing, and debates began over the potential emancipation of the Jews (granting them equal rights). The first country to do so was France, during the French Revolution in 1789. Even so, Jews were expected to assimilate, not continue their traditions. This ambivalence is demonstrated in the famous speech of Clermont-Tonnerre before the National Assembly in 1789:

We must refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to Jews as individuals. We must withdraw recognition from their judges; they should only have our judges. We must refuse legal protection to the maintenance of the so-called laws of their Judaic organization; they should not be allowed to form in the state either a political body or an order. They must be citizens individually. But, some will say to me, they do not want to be citizens. Well then! If they do not want to be citizens, they should say so, and then, we should banish them. It is repugnant to have in the state an association of non-citizens, and a nation within the nation...

Hasidic Judaism is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith. Hasidism comprises part of contemporary Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, alongside the previous Talmudic Lithuanian-Yeshiva approach and the Oriental Sephardi tradition.

It was founded in 18th-century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. Opposite to this, Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Immanent Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside Rabbinic supremacy of study, and replaced historical mystical (kabbalistic) and ethical (musar) asceticism and admonishment with optimism, encouragement, and daily fervour. This populist emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought. The adjustment of Jewish values sought to add to required standards of ritual observance, while relaxing others where inspiration predominated. Its communal gatherings celebrate soulful song and storytelling as forms of mystical devotion.[citation needed]

Though persecution still existed, emancipation spread throughout Europe in the 19th century. Napoleon invited Jews to leave the Jewish ghettos in Europe and seek refuge in the newly created tolerant political regimes that offered equality under Napoleonic Law (see Napoleon and the Jews). By 1871, with Germany's emancipation of Jews, every European country except Russia had emancipated its Jews.

Despite increasing integration of the Jews with secular society, a new form of antisemitism emerged, based on the ideas of race and nationhood rather than the religious hatred of the Middle Ages. This form of antisemitism held that Jews were a separate and inferior race from the Aryan people of Western Europe, and led to the emergence of political parties in France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary that campaigned on a platform of rolling back emancipation. This form of antisemitism emerged frequently in European culture, most famously in the Dreyfus Trial in France. These persecutions, along with state-sponsored pogroms in Russia in the late 19th century, led a number of Jews to believe that they would only be safe in their own nation. See Theodor Herzl and History of Zionism.

During this period, Jewish migration to the United States (see American Jews) created a large new community mostly freed of the restrictions of Europe. Over 2 million Jews arrived in the United States between 1890 and 1924, most from Russia and Eastern Europe. A similar case occurred in the southern tip of the continent, specifically in the countries of Argentina and Uruguay.

During the 1870s and 1880s, the Jewish population in Europe began to more actively discuss emigration to Ottoman Syria with the aim of re-establishing a Jewish polity in Palestine and fulfilling the biblical prophecies related to Shivat Tzion. In 1882 the first Zionist settlementRishon LeZionwas founded by immigrants who belonged to the "Hovevei Zion" movement. Later on, the "Bilu" movement established many other settlements in the land of Israel.

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What it now means to be a Jewish Mavericks fan, courtesy of Kyrie Irving – Mavs Moneyball

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What it now means to be a Jewish Mavericks fan, courtesy of Kyrie Irving  Mavs Moneyball

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Santos invites Democrat who exaggerated his Jewish observance as guest to the State of the Union – Forward

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SA Jewish Board slams SA Rugby’s withdrawal of Israeli team from new competition – News24

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Anti-Semitism – Nazi anti-Semitism and the Holocaust | Britannica

Posted By on February 7, 2023

The storm of anti-Semitic violence loosed by Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1945 not only reached a terrifying intensity in Germany itself but also inspired anti-Jewish movements elsewhere. Anti-Semitism was promulgated in France by the Cagoulards (French: Hooded Men), in Hungary by the Arrow Cross, in England by the British Union of Fascists, and in the United States by the German-American Bund and the Silver Shirts.

In Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism reached a racial dimension never before experienced. Christianity had sought the conversion of the Jews, and political leaders from Spain to England had sought their expulsion because Jews were practitioners of Judaism, but the Naziswho regarded Jews not only as members of a subhuman race but as a dangerous cancer that would destroy the German peoplesought the final solution to the Jewish question, the murder of all Jews men, women, and childrenand their eradication from the human race. In Nazi ideology that perceived Jewishness to be biological, the elimination of the Jews was essential to the purification and even the salvation of the German people.

A novelty of the Nazi brand of anti-Semitism was that it crossed class barriers. The idea of Aryan racial superiority appealed both to the masses and to economic elites. In Germany anti-Semitism became official government policytaught in the schools, elaborated in scientific journals and research institutes, and promoted by a huge, highly effective organization for international propaganda. In 1941 the liquidation of European Jewry became official party policy. During World War II an estimated 5.7 million Jews were exterminated by mobile killing units; in such death camps as Auschwitz, Chelmno, Belzec, Majdanek, and Treblinka; by being worked to death; or through starvation.

For a period of time after the Nazi defeat in 1945, anti-Semitism lost favour in western Europe and the United States. Even those who were anti-Semitic were hesitant, if not embarrassed, to express it. American Jews became an integrated part of culture and society in the postwar United States. Barriers to complete Jewish participation in business and politics fell, and Jews found few obstacles in their way as they sought to participate in American life. Anti-Semitism became a fringe phenomenon with occasional lethal manifestations in hate crimes. But even if they were fewer in number, less widespread, and less tolerated by American society, virulent anti-Semitic acts still occasionally occurred.

Moreover, anti-Semitism persisted in many other countries. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, whose troops had liberated Auschwitz, engaged in a purge of Jews that was halted only by his death in 1953. In the Soviet Union, opposition to the State of Israel after the Six-Day War (1967) and to the attempts of Soviet Jews to emigrate was linked to historic Russian anti-Semitism. There also were anti-Jewish purges in Poland in 195657 and 1968.

Under the leadership of Pope (later Saint) John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church accepted the legitimacy of Judaism as a continuing religion and exonerated Jews for the murder of Jesus Christ by universalizing responsibility for his Crucifixion. Nostra aetate, arguably the most important document in Christian-Jewish relations in the 20th century also changed the Good Friday liturgy to make it less inflammatory with regard to Jews and altered the Roman Catholic catechism. In 2007, however, Pope Benedict XVI approved wider use of the old Latin mass, which included the Good Friday liturgy and a prayer that most Jews found offensive. Although the prayer was revised in 2008 to address Jewish concerns, some argued that it was still prejudicial.

A centrepiece of the papacy of Pope (later Saint) John Paul II, who witnessed the Holocaust directly as a young man in Poland, was the fight against anti-Semitism and his embrace of Jews. The pope paid a historic visit to a synagogue in Rome in 1986, and under his leadership the Vatican established diplomatic relations with the State of Israel in 1993, shortly after the conclusion of the Oslo peace agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In March 2000 the pontiff visited Israel. At Yad Vashem, Israels memorial to the Holocaust, he described anti-Semitism as anti-Christian in nature and apologized for instances of anti-Semitism by Christians. At the Western Wall, Judaisms most-sacred site, he inserted a prayer note of apology for past Christian misdeeds into the stones:

In 1998 the Vatican had published a document titled We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, which called upon the faithful to reflect upon the lessons of the Shoah (the Holocaust). In presenting that document, Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy, president of the Holy Sees Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, said, Whenever there has been guilt on the part of the Christians, this burden should be a call to repentance.

Although it might have seemed likely that anti-Semitism would have been dealt a decisive blow by the collapse of the communist bloc in the early 1990s and by the transformation of the Roman Catholic Churchs and other Christian denominations teaching regarding Jews, that was not the case. In the 1980s and 1990s, international controversy over the legacies of Nazism in Austria and Switzerland triggered increased anti-Semitism in those countries. Foreign concern over Kurt Waldheims Nazi past provoked angry anti-Semitic reactions among some of his supporters during his successful 1986 campaign for the Austrian presidency. During the late 1990s, when it was revealed that Swiss banks had laundered Nazi gold (much of it likely confiscated from Jews) during World War II and had failed to return money to Jewish depositors after the war, international criticism and demands for restitution provoked increased anti-Semitism in Switzerland. In postcommunist Russia, political opposition to that countrys ruling regime and to the disproportionate representation of Jews among the powerful oligarchy often had anti-Semitic overtones.

In Europe the presence of a large Muslim immigrant population that was deeply concerned with events in the Middle East was believed to have intensified anti-Semitism. Often the targets of anti-Semitic actions were the most vulnerable of Jews living in immigrant neighbourhoods. It was argued that the large number of Muslim immigrants and the absence of hate-crime legislation led some European politicians to ignore or to downplay the significance of anti-Semitic incidents. Furthermore, anti-Semitic myths that in the post-Holocaust era had been discarded by western Europe, such as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and the blood libel, made their way into the Middle East, where they flourished with support from religious authorities, the media, and some governments. Although some observers were quick to argue that Islam was not by its nature anti-Semitic, currents of fiercely anti-Israel and openly anti-Semitic beliefs were abroad in the Muslim world.

For many centuries, Islamic societies had tolerated Jews as People of the Book and dhimms, subordinate yet protected people who were required to pay special taxes, wear identifying clothing, and live in specified areas. Jews were thus treated much as other nonbelievers were in Muslim societies. But the immigration of large numbers of Jews to Palestine in the 20th century and the creation of the State of Israel (1948) in a formerly Arab region aroused new currents of hostility within the Arab world. Arab hostility to the State of Israel was primarily political (or anti-Zionist) and religious rather than racial. Whatever the motivation, however, the result was the adoption of many anti-Jewish measures throughout the Muslim countries of the Middle East. In response, most of the Jewish residents of those countries immigrated to Israel in the decades after its founding.

The founders of Zionism and the leaders of the State of Israel had presumed that the normalization of the Jewish conditionthat is, the achievement of statehood and with it a flag and an armywould seriously diminish anti-Semitism; however, from the Yom Kippur War of 1973 onward, the existence of the Israeli state seemed to have the opposite effect, fueling rather than quenching the long-standing fires of anti-Semitic hatred. Thus, in the first decades of the new millennium, there seemed to be a marked rise in anti-Semitism.

The manifestations of anti-Semitism in the 21st century prompted careful consideration and debate regarding the definition of anti-Semitism. The evolving conversation prompted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) to adopt a working definition in 2016:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

The vehemence of the anger and attacks against Israel often appeared not to differentiate between Israelis and Jews. Armed attacks were aimed at civilian and military targets alike. Some of those who were alarmed by increasing anti-Semitism in the 21st century pointed to examples of Muslim leaders employing anti-Semitic tropes when addressing their own populations. At the same time, the Internet linked disparate groups of anti-Semites and provided an online community for previously isolated factions.

In many countries a significant part of the political left had become highly critical of Israel, a development that was disquieting to Jews who were once comfortable on the left and felt that their erstwhile allies had turned against Israel or Israeli policies. Some critics of those policies compared them to those of Nazi Germany, and in political cartoons Jewish figures were depicted in a manner not dissimilar to Nazi propaganda. Controversy embroiled the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, for example, after some of its members were accused of making anti-Semitic remarks in 2016.

Scholars and students of anti-Semitism struggled to distinguish between legitimate criticism of policies of the Israeli government and anti-Semitism. In 2004 then Israeli cabinet minister and one-time Soviet human rights activist Natan Sharansky suggested three markers to delineate the boundary between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism. Under his 3D test, when one of these elements was detectable, the line had been crossed: double standards (judging Israel by one standard and all other countries by another), delegitimization (the conclusion that Israel had no right to exist), or demonization (regarding the Israeli state not merely as wrongheaded or mistaken but as a demonic force in the contemporary world).

At the same time, many conservative Christians (including many evangelicals) voiced ardent support for Israel. However, the nationalistic xenophobic far rightwhich often embodied an open or thinly veiled anti-Semitism while capitalizing on economic dislocation and discontentment with immigrationgained considerable political power in countries such as Greece and Hungary in the early 2010s. Similar political movements later surged in other parts of Europe, including Austria, whose far-right Freedom Party underwent a revival in the mid-2010s; France, where Marine Le Pen, whose National Rally had once been known for fostering anti-Semitism, came second in the 2017 presidential runoff; and Italy, where a party descended from the neofascist National Alliance led the formation of a government in 2022. The global impact in the rise of the far right was exemplified in widespread conspiracy theories, which often utilized anti-Semitic tropes, about the American financier and philanthropist George Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew frequently criticized by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbn.

During the 2010s measurable increases in anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks were recorded in Europe and North America, including physical and verbal assaults as well as vandalism, graffiti, and desecration. France, which has the largest Jewish population in Europe, saw one of the most notable upticks in vandalism and violence targeting Jewish communities, including a deadly assault on a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks anti-Semitic activity in the United States, anti-Semitic incidents in the country rose sharply after 2015, averaging about seven incidents per day in 2021. The country suffered one of its deadliest anti-Semitic attacks in October 2018 when a man opened fire at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during services, killing 11. Public reflection on the rise of anti-Semitism was renewed in October 2022 when the popular rapper Ye (Kanye West) made a series of public comments that were widely seen as anti-Semitic.

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Anti-Semitism - Nazi anti-Semitism and the Holocaust | Britannica

Osceola County will hold group wedding ceremonies this Valentine’s Day, and there’s still time to register – Orlando Weekly

Posted By on February 7, 2023

Osceola County will hold group wedding ceremonies this Valentine's Day, and there's still time to register  Orlando Weekly

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Osceola County will hold group wedding ceremonies this Valentine's Day, and there's still time to register - Orlando Weekly

Payot – Wikipedia

Posted By on February 4, 2023

Not to be confused with Piyyut.

Pe'ot, anglicized as payot[a] (Hebrew: , romanized:pt, "corners") or payes (Yiddish pronunciation:[peyes]), is the Hebrew term for sidelocks or sideburns. Payot are worn by some men and boys in the Orthodox Jewish community based on an interpretation of the Tanakh's injunction against shaving the "sides" of one's head. Literally, pe'a means "corner, side, edge". There are different styles of payot among Haredi or Hasidic, Yemenite, and Chardal Jews. Yemenite Jews call their sidelocks simanim (), literally, "signs", because their long-curled sidelocks served as a distinguishing feature in the Yemenite society (differentiating them from their non-Jewish neighbors).

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Payot - Wikipedia

Hebrew alphabet | writing system | Britannica

Posted By on February 4, 2023

Hebrew alphabet, either of two distinct Semitic alphabetsthe Early Hebrew and the Classical, or Square, Hebrew. Early Hebrew was the alphabet used by the Jewish nation in the period before the Babylonian Exilei.e., prior to the 6th century bcealthough some inscriptions in this alphabet may be of a later date. Several hundred inscriptions exist. As is usual in early alphabets, Early Hebrew exists in a variety of local variants and also shows development over time; the oldest example of Early Hebrew writing, the Gezer Calendar, dates from the 10th century bce, and the writing used varies little from the earliest North Semitic alphabets. The Early Hebrew alphabet, like the modern Hebrew variety, had 22 letters, with only consonants represented, and was written from right to left; but the early alphabet is more closely related in letter form to the Phoenician than to the modern Hebrew. Its only surviving descendant is the Samaritan alphabet, still used by a few hundred Samaritan Jews.

Between the 6th and the 2nd century bce, Classical, or Square, Hebrew gradually displaced the Aramaic alphabet, which had replaced Early Hebrew in Palestine. Square Hebrew became established in the 2nd and 1st centuries bce and developed into the modern Hebrew alphabet over the next 1,500 years. It was apparently derived from the Aramaic alphabet rather than from Early Hebrew but was nonetheless strongly influenced by the Early Hebrew script. Classical Hebrew showed three distinct forms by the 10th century ce: Square Hebrew, a formal or book hand; rabbinical or Rashi-writing, employed by medieval Jewish scholars; and various local cursive scripts, of which the Polish-German type became the modern cursive form.

Click Here to see full-size tableThe Hebrew alphabet is provided in the table.

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Hebrew alphabet | writing system | Britannica

Sephardic Jews – Wikipedia

Posted By on February 2, 2023

Jewish diaspora of the Iberian Peninsula

Sephardic (or Sepharadi) Jews (Hebrew: , romanized:Yahadut Sefarad, transl.Jewry of Hispania; Ladino: Djudos Sefardes), also Sephardim [a][1] or Hispanic Jews,[2]are a Jewish diaspora population associated with the Iberian Peninsula. The term, which is derived from the Hebrew Sepharad (lit.'Spain'), can also refer to the Mizrahi Jews of Western Asia and North Africa, who were also influenced by Sephardic law and customs.[3] Many Iberian Jewish exiles also later sought refuge in Mizrahi Jewish communities, resulting in integration with those communities.

The Jewish communities of the Iberian Peninsula prospered for centuries under the Muslim reign of Al-Andalus following the Umayyad conquest of Hispania, but their fortunes began to decline with the Christian Reconquista campaign to retake Spain. In 1492, the Alhambra Decree by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain called for the expulsion of Jews, and in 1496, King Manuel I of Portugal issued a similar edict for the expulsion of both Jews and Muslims.[4] These actions resulted in a combination of internal and external migrations, mass conversions, and executions. By the late 15th century, Sephardic Jews had been largely expelled from Spain and scattered across North Africa, Western Asia, Southern and Southeastern Europe, either settling near existing Jewish communities or as the first in new frontiers, such as along the Silk Road.[5]

Historically, the vernacular languages of the Sephardic Jews and their descendants have been variants of either Spanish or Portuguese, though they have also adopted and adapted other languages. The historical forms of Spanish that differing Sephardic communities spoke communally were related to the date of their departure from Iberia and their status at that time as either New Christians or Jews. Judaeo-Spanish, also called Ladino, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish that was spoken by the eastern Sephardic Jews who settled in the Eastern Mediterranean after their expulsion from Spain in 1492; Haketia (also known as "Tetuani Ladino" in Algeria), an Arabic-influenced variety of Judaeo-Spanish, was spoken by North African Sephardic Jews who settled in the region after the 1492 Spanish expulsion.

In the 21st century, both Spain and Portugal passed 2015 laws allowing Sephardic Jews who could prove their ancestral origins in those countries to apply for citizenship;[6] the Spanish law that offered expedited citizenship to Sephardic Jews expired in 2019, but Portuguese citizenship is still available.[citation needed]

The name Sephardi means "Spanish" or "Hispanic", derived from Sepharad (Hebrew: , Modern:Sfard, Tiberian:Spr), a Biblical location.[7] The location of the biblical Sepharad points to the Iberian peninsula, then the westernmost outpost of Phoenician maritime trade.[8] Jewish presence in Iberia is believed to have started during the reign of King Solomon, whose excise imposed taxes on Iberian exiles. Although the first date of arrival of Jews in Iberia is the subject of ongoing archaeological research, there is evidence of established Jewish communities as early as the 1st century CE.[9][bettersourceneeded]

In other languages and scripts, "Sephardi" may be translated as plural Hebrew: , Modern:Sfaraddim, Tiberian:Spraddm; Spanish: Sefardes; Portuguese: Sefarditas; Catalan: Sefardites; Aragonese: Safards; Basque: Sefardiak; French: Sfarades; Galician: Sefards; Italian: Sefarditi; Greek: , Sephardites; Serbian: , Sefardi; Serbian, Judaeo-Spanish: Sefaradies/Sefaradim; and Arabic: , Safrdiyyn.

In the narrower ethnic definition, a Sephardi Jew is one descended from the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century, immediately prior to the issuance of the Alhambra Decree of 1492 by order of the Catholic Monarchs in Spain, and the decree of 1496 in Portugal by order of King Manuel I.

In Hebrew, the term "Sephardim Tehorim" ( , literally "Pure Sephardim"), derived from a misunderstanding of the initials " "Samekh Tet" traditionally used with some proper names (which stand for sofo tov, "may his end be good"[10][bettersourceneeded]), has in recent times been used in some quarters to distinguish Sephardim proper, "who trace their lineage back to the Iberian/Spanish population", from Sephardim in the broader religious sense.[11] This distinction has also been made in reference to 21st-century genetic findings in research on 'Pure Sephardim', in contrast to other communities of Jews today who are part of the broad classification of Sephardi.[12]

Ethnic Sephardic Jews have had a presence in North Africa and various parts of the Mediterranean and Western Asia due to their expulsion from Spain. There have also been Sephardic communities in South America and India.

The modern Israeli Hebrew definition of Sephardi is a much broader, religious based, definition that generally excludes ethnic considerations. In its most basic form, this broad religious definition of a Sephardi refers to any Jew, of any ethnic background, who follows the customs and traditions of Sepharad. For religious purposes, and in modern Israel, "Sephardim" is most often used in this wider sense. It encompasses most non-Ashkenazi Jews who are not ethnically Sephardi, but are in most instances of West Asian or North African origin. They are classified as Sephardi because they commonly use a Sephardic style of liturgy; this constitutes a majority of Mizrahi Jews in the 21st century.

The term Sephardi in the broad sense, describes the nusach (Hebrew language, "liturgical tradition") used by Sephardi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book). A nusach is defined by a liturgical tradition's choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers. Sephardim traditionally pray using Minhag Sefarad.

The term Nusach Sefard or Nusach Sfarad does not refer to the liturgy generally recited by Sephardim proper or even Sephardi in a broader sense, but rather to an alternative Eastern European liturgy used by many Hasidim, who are Ashkenazi.

Additionally, Ethiopian Jews, whose branch of practiced Judaism is known as Haymanot, have been included under the oversight of Israel's already broad Sephardic Chief Rabbinate.

The divisions among Sephardim and their descendants today are largely a result of the consequences of the royal edicts of expulsion. Both the Spanish and Portuguese crowns ordered their respective Jewish subjects to choose one of three options:

In the case of the Alhambra Decree of 1492, the primary purpose was to eliminate Jewish influence on Spain's large converso population, and ensure they did not revert to Judaism. Over half of Spain's Jews had converted in the 14th century as a result of the religious persecution and pogroms which occurred in 1391. They and their Catholic descendants were not subject to the Decree or to expulsion, yet were surveilled by the Spanish Inquisition. British scholar Henry Kamen has said that

"the real purpose of the 1492 edict likely was not expulsion, but compulsory conversion and assimilation of all Spanish Jews, a process which had been underway for a number of centuries. Indeed, a further number of those Jews who had not yet joined the converso community finally chose to convert and avoid expulsion as a result of the edict. As a result of the Alhambra decree and persecution during the prior century, between 200,000 and 250,000 Jews converted to Catholicism and between one third and one half of Spain's remaining 100,000 non-converted Jews chose exile, with an indeterminate number returning to Spain in the years following the expulsion."[13]

Foreseeing a negative economic effect of a similar Jewish flight from Portugal, King Manuel issued his decree four years later presumably to satisfy a precondition that the Spanish monarchs had set for him in order to allow him to marry their daughter Isabella. While the stipulations were similar in the Portuguese decree, King Manuel largely prevented Portugal's Jews from leaving, by blocking Portugal's ports of exit. He decided that the Jews who stayed accepted Catholicism by default, proclaiming them New Christians by royal decree. Physical forced conversions, however, were also suffered by Jews throughout Portugal.

Sephardi Jews encompass Jews descended from those Jews who left the Iberian Peninsula as Jews by the expiration of the respective decreed deadlines. This group is further divided between those who fled south to North Africa, as opposed to those who fled eastwards to the Balkans, West Asia and beyond. Others fled east into Europe, with many settling in northern Italy. Also included among Sephardi Jews are those who descend from "New Christian" conversos, but returned to Judaism after leaving Iberia, largely after reaching Southern and Western Europe.[citation needed]

From these regions, many late migrated again, this time to the non-Iberian territories of the Americas. Additional to all these Sephardic Jewish groups are the descendants of those New Christian conversos who either remained in Iberia, or moved from Iberia directly to the Iberian colonial possessions in what are today the various Latin American countries. For historical reasons and circumstances, most of the descendants of this group of conversos never formally returned to the Jewish religion.

All these sub-groups are defined by a combination of geography, identity, religious evolution, language evolution, and the timeframe of their reversion (for those who had in the interim undergone a temporary nominal conversion to Catholicism) or non-reversion back to Judaism.

These Sephardic sub-groups are separate from any pre-existing local Jewish communities they encountered in their new areas of settlement. From the perspective of the present day, the first three sub-groups appeared to have developed as separate branches, each with its own traditions.

In earlier centuries, and as late as the editing of the Jewish Encyclopedia at the beginning of the 20th century, the Sephardim were usually regarded as together forming a continuum. The Jewish community of Livorno, Italy acted as the clearing-house of personnel and traditions among the first three sub-groups; it also developed as the chief publishing centre.[improper synthesis?]

Eastern Sephardim comprise the descendants of the expellees from Spain who left as Jews in 1492 or earlier. This sub-group of Sephardim settled mostly in various parts of the Ottoman Empire, which then included areas in West Asia's Near East such as Anatolia, the Levant and Egypt; in Southeastern Europe, some of the Dodecanese islands and the Balkans. They settled particularly in European cities ruled by the Ottoman Empire, including Salonica in present-day Greece; Constantinople, which today is known as Istanbul on the European portion of modern Turkey; and Sarajevo, in what is today Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sephardic Jews also lived in Bulgaria, where they absorbed into their community the Romaniote Jews they found already living there. They had a presence as well in Walachia in what is today southern Romania, where there is still a functioning Sephardic Synagogue.[14] Their traditional language is referred to as Judezmo ("Jewish [language]"). It is Judaeo-Spanish, sometimes also known as Ladino, which consisted of the medieval Spanish and Portuguese they spoke in Iberia, with admixtures of Hebrew, and the languages around them, especially Turkish. This Judeo-Spanish language was often written in Rashi script.

Regarding the Middle East, some Sephardim went further east into the West Asian territories of the Ottoman Empire, settling among the long-established Arabic-speaking Jewish communities in Damascus and Aleppo in Syria, as well as in the Land of Israel, and as far as Baghdad in Iraq. Although technically Egypt was a North African Ottoman region, those Jews who settled in Alexandria are included in this group, due to Egypt's cultural proximity to the other West Asian provinces under Ottoman rule.

For the most part, Eastern Sephardim did not maintain their own separate Sephardic religious and cultural institutions from pre-existing Jews. Instead the local Jews came to adopt the liturgical customs of the recent Sephardic arrivals. Eastern Sephardim in European areas of the Ottoman Empire, as well as in Palestine, retained their culture and language, but those in the other parts of the West Asian portion gave up their language and adopted the local Judeo-Arabic dialect. This latter phenomenon is just one of the factors which have today led to the broader and eclectic religious definition of Sephardi Jews.

Thus, the Jewish communities in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt are partly of Spanish Jewish origin and they are counted as Sephardim proper. The great majority of the Jewish communities in Iraq, and all of those in Iran, Eastern Syria, Yemen, and Eastern Turkey, are descendants of pre-existing indigenous Jewish populations. They adopted the Sephardic rites and traditions through cultural diffusion, and are properly termed Mizrahi Jews.[citation needed]

Going even further into South Asia, a few of the Eastern Sephardim followed the spice trade routes as far as the Malabar coast of southern India, where they settled among the established Cochin Jewish community. Their culture and customs were absorbed by the local Jews.[citation needed]. Additionally, there was a large community of Jews and crypto-Jews of Portuguese origin in the Portuguese colony of Goa. Gaspar Jorge de Leo Pereira, the first archbishop of Goa, wanted to suppress or expel that community, calling for the initiation of the Goa Inquisition against the Sephardic Jews in India.

In recent times, principally after 1948, most Eastern Sephardim have since relocated to Israel, and others to the US and Latin America.

Eastern Sephardim still often carry common Spanish surnames, as well as other specifically Sephardic surnames from 15th-century Spain with Arabic or Hebrew language origins (such as Azoulay, Abulafia, Abravanel) which have since disappeared from Spain when those that stayed behind as conversos adopted surnames that were solely Spanish in origin. Other Eastern Sephardim have since also translated their Hispanic surnames into the languages of the regions they settled in, or have modified them to make them sound more local.

North African Sephardim consists of the descendants of the expellees from Spain who also left as Jews in 1492. This branch settled in North Africa (except Egypt, see Eastern Sephardim above). Settling mostly in Morocco and Algeria, they spoke a variant of Judaeo-Spanish known as Haketia. They also spoke Judeo-Arabic in a majority of cases. They settled in the areas with already established Arabic-speaking Jewish communities in North Africa and eventually merged with them to form new communities based solely on Sephardic customs.[citation needed]

Several of the Moroccan Jews emigrated back to the Iberian Peninsula to form the core of the Gibraltar Jews.[citation needed]

In the 19th century, modern Spanish, French and Italian gradually replaced Haketia and Judeo-Arabic as the mother tongue among most Moroccan Sephardim and other North African Sephardim.[15]

In recent times, with the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, principally after the creation of Israel in 1948, most North African Sephardim have relocated to Israel (total pop. est. 1,400,000 in 2015), and most others to France (361,000)[16] and the US (300,000), as well as other countries. As of 2015 there was a significant community still in Morocco (10,000).[17]

North African Sephardim still also often carry common Spanish surnames, as well as other specifically Sephardic surnames from 15th century Spain with Arabic or Hebrew language origins (such as Azoulay, Abulafia, Abravanel) which have since disappeared from Spain when those that stayed behind as conversos adopted surnames that were solely Spanish in origin. Other North African Sephardim have since also translated their Hispanic surnames into local languages or have modified them to sound local.[citation needed]

Western Sephardim (also known more ambiguously as "Spanish and Portuguese Jews", "Spanish Jews", "Portuguese Jews" and "Jews of the Portuguese Nation") are the community of Jewish ex-conversos whose families initially remained in Spain and Portugal as ostensible New Christians, that is, as Anusim or "forced [converts]". Western Sephardim are further sub-divided into an Old World branch and a New World branch.

Henry Kamen and Joseph Perez estimate that of the total Jewish origin population of Spain at the time of the issuance of the Alhambra Decree, those who chose to remain in Spain represented the majority, up to 300,000 of a total Jewish origin population of 350,000. Furthermore, a significant number returned to Spain in the years following the expulsion, on condition of converting to Catholicism, the Crown guaranteeing they could recover their property at the same price at which it was sold.

Discrimination against this large community of conversos nevertheless remained, and those who secretly practiced the Jewish faith specifically suffered severe episodes of persecution by the Inquisition. The last episode of persecution occurred in the mid-18th century. External migrations out of the Iberian peninsula coincided with these episodes of increased persecution by the Inquisition.

As a result of this discrimination and persecution, a small number of marranos (conversos who secretly practiced Judaism) later emigrated to more religiously tolerant Old World countries outside the Iberian cultural sphere such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, England.[citation needed] In these lands conversos reverted to Judaism, rejoining the Jewish community sometimes up to the third or even fourth generations after the initial decrees stipulating conversion, expulsion, or death. It is these returnees to Judaism that represent Old World Western Sephardim.

New World Western Sephardim, on the other hand, are the descendants of those Jewish-origin New Christian conversos who accompanied the millions of Old Christian Spaniards and Portuguese that emigrated to the Americas. More specifically, New World Western Sephardim are those Western Sephardim whose converso ancestors migrated to various of the non-Iberian colonies in the Americas in whose jurisdictions they could return to Judaism.

New World Western Sephardim are juxtaposed to yet another group of descendants of conversos who settled in the Iberian colonies of the Americas who could not revert to Judaism. These comprise the related but distinct group known as Sephardic Bnei Anusim (see the section below).

Due to the presence of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition in the Iberian American territories, initially, converso immigration was barred throughout much of Ibero-America. Because of this, very few converso immigrants in Iberian American colonies ever reverted to Judaism. Of those conversos in the New World who did return to Judaism, it was principally those who had come via an initial respite of refuge in the Netherlands and/or who were settling the New World Dutch colonies such as Curaao and the area then known as New Holland (also called Dutch Brazil). Dutch Brazil was the northern portion of the colony of Brazil ruled by the Dutch for under a quarter of a century before it also fell to the Portuguese who ruled the remainder of Brazil. Jews who had only recently reverted in Dutch Brazil then again had to flee to other Dutch-ruled colonies in the Americas, including joining brethren in Curaao, but also migrating to New Amsterdam, in what is today Lower Manhattan in New York City.

All of the oldest congregations in the non-Iberian colonial possessions in the Americas were founded by Western Sephardim, many who arrived in the then Dutch-ruled New Amsterdam, with their synagogues being in the tradition of "Spanish and Portuguese Jews".

In the United States in particular, Congregation Shearith Israel, established in 1654, in today's New York City, is the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Its present building dates from 1897. Congregation Jeshuat Israel in Newport, Rhode Island, is dated to sometime after the arrival there of Western Sephardim in 1658 and prior to the 1677 purchase of a communal cemetery, now known as Touro Cemetery. See also List of the oldest synagogues in the United States.

The intermittent period of residence in Portugal (after the initial fleeing from Spain) for the ancestors of many Western Sephardim (whether Old World or New World) is a reason why the surnames of many Western Sephardim tend to be Portuguese variations of common Spanish surnames, though some are still Spanish.

Among a few notable figures with roots in Western Sephardim are the current president of Venezuela, Nicols Maduro, and former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Benjamin N. Cardozo. Both descend from Western Sephardim who left Portugal for the Netherlands, and in the case of Nicols Maduro, from the Netherlands to Curaao, and ultimately Venezuela.

The Sephardic Bnei Anusim consists of the contemporary and largely nominal Christian descendants of assimilated 15th century Sephardic anusim. These descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews forced or coerced to convert to Catholicism remained, as conversos, in Iberia or moved to the Iberian colonial possessions across various Latin American countries during the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Due to historical reasons and circumstances, Sephardic Bnei Anusim had not been able to return to the Jewish faith over the last five centuries,[18] although increasing numbers have begun emerging publicly in modern times, especially over the last two decades. Except for varying degrees of putatively rudimentary Jewish customs and traditions which had been retained as family traditions among individual families, Sephardic Bnei Anusim became a fully assimilated sub-group within the Iberian-descended Christian populations of Spain, Portugal, Hispanic America and Brazil. In the last 5 to 10 years,[when?] however, "organized groups of [Sephardic] Benei Anusim in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and in Sefarad [Iberia] itself"[19] have now been established, some of whose members have formally reverted to Judaism, leading to the emergence of Neo-Western Sephardim (see group below).

The Jewish Agency for Israel estimates the Sephardic Bnei Anusim population to number in the millions.[20] Their population size is several times larger than the three Jewish-integrated Sephardi descendant sub-groups combined, consisting of Eastern Sephardim, North African Sephardim, and the ex-converso Western Sephardim (both New World and Old World branches).

Although numerically superior, Sephardic Bnei Anusim is, however, the least prominent or known sub-group of Sephardi descendants. Sephardic Bnei Anusim are also more than twice the size of the total world Jewish population as a whole, which itself also encompasses Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrahi Jews and various other smaller groups.

Unlike the Anusim ("forced [converts]") who were the conversos up to the third, fourth or fifth generation (depending on the Jewish responsa) who later reverted to Judaism, the Bnei Anusim ("[later] sons/children/descendants [of the] forced [converts]") were the subsequent generations of descendants of the Anusim who remained hidden ever since the Inquisition in the Iberian Peninsula and its New World franchises. At least some Sephardic Anusim in the Hispanosphere (in Iberia, but especially in their colonies in Ibero-America) had also initially tried to revert to Judaism, or at least maintain crypto-Jewish practices in privacy. This, however, was not feasible long-term in that environment, as Judaizing conversos in Iberia and Ibero-America remained persecuted, prosecuted, and liable to conviction and execution. The Inquisition itself was only finally formally disbanded in the 19th century.

Historical documentation shedding new light on the diversity in the ethnic composition of the Iberian immigrants to the Spanish colonies of the Americas during the conquest era suggests that the number of New Christians of Sephardi origin that actively participated in the conquest and settlement was more significant than previously estimated. A number of Spanish conquerors, administrators, settlers, have now been confirmed to have been of Sephardi origin.[citation needed] Recent revelations have only come about as a result of modern DNA evidence and newly discovered records in Spain, which had been either lost or hidden, relating to conversions, marriages, baptisms, and Inquisition trials of the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of the Sephardi-origin Iberian immigrants.

Overall, it is now estimated that up to 20% of modern-day Spaniards and 10% of colonial Latin America's Iberian settlers may have been of Sephardic origin, although the regional distribution of their settlement was uneven throughout the colonies. Thus, Iberian settlers of New Christian Sephardi-origin ranged anywhere from none in most areas to as high as 1 in every 3 (approx. 30%) Iberian settlers in other areas. With Latin America's current population standing at close to 590 million people, the bulk of which consists of persons of full or partial Iberian ancestry (both New World Hispanics and Brazilians, whether they're criollos, mestizos or mulattos), it is estimated that up to 50 million of these possess Sephardic Jewish ancestry to some degree.

In Iberia, settlements of known and attested populations of Bnei Anusim include those in Belmonte, in Portugal, and the Xuetes of Palma de Mallorca, in Spain. In 2011 Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, a leading rabbi and Halachic authority and chairman of the Beit Din Tzedek rabbinical court in Bnei Brak, Israel, recognized the entire Xuete community of Bnei Anusim in Palma de Mallorca, as Jews.[21] That population alone represented approximately 18,000 people, or just over 2% of the entire population of the island. The proclamation of the Jews' default acceptance of Catholicism by the Portuguese king actually resulted in a high percentage being assimilated into the Portuguese population. Besides the Xuetas, the same is true of Spain.

Almost all Sephardic Bnei Anusim carry surnames which are known to have been used by Sephardim during the 15th century. However, almost all of these surnames are not specifically Sephardic per se, and most are in fact surnames of gentile Spanish or gentile Portuguese origin which only became common among Bnei Anusim because they deliberately adopted them during their conversions to Catholicism, in an attempt to obscure their Jewish heritage.Given that conversion made New Christians subject to Inquisitorial prosecution as Catholics, crypto-Jews formally recorded Christian names and gentile surnames to be publicly used as their aliases in notarial documents, government relations and commercial activities, while keeping their given Hebrew names and Jewish surnames secret.[22] As a result, very few Sephardic Bnei Anusim carry surnames that are specifically Sephardic in origin, or that are exclusively found among Bnei Anusim.

Prior to 1492, substantial Jewish populations existed in most Spanish and Portuguese provinces. Among the larger Jewish populations in actual numbers were the Jewish communities in cities like Lisbon, Toledo, Crdoba, Seville, Mlaga and Granada. In these cities, however, Jews constituted only substantial minorities of the overall population. In several smaller towns, however, Jews composed majorities or pluralities, as the towns were founded or inhabited principally by Jews. Among these towns were Ocaa, Guadalajara, Buitrago del Lozoya, Lucena, Ribadavia, Hervs, Llerena, and Almazn.

In Castile, Aranda de Duero, vila, Alba de Tormes, Arvalo, Burgos, Calahorra, Carrin de los Condes, Cullar, Herrera del Duque, Len, Medina del Campo, Ourense, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, and Villaln were home to large Jewish communities or aljamas. Aragon had substantial Jewish communities in the Calls of Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona, Valencia and Palma (Majorca), with the Girona Synagogue serving as the centre of Catalonian Jewry

The first Jews to leave Spain settled in what is today Algeria after the various persecutions that took place in 1391.

The Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion) was an edict issued on 31 March 1492, by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) ordering the expulsion of practicing Jews from the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon and its territories and possessions by 31 July, of that year.[23] The primary purpose was to eliminate their influence on Spain's large converso population and ensure they did not revert to Judaism. Over half of Spain's Jews had converted as a result of the religious persecution and pogroms which occurred in 1391, and as such were not subject to the Decree or to expulsion. A further number of those remaining chose to avoid expulsion as a result of the edict. As a result of the Alhambra decree and persecution in prior years, over 200,000 Jews converted to Catholicism, and between 40,000 and 100,000 were expelled, an indeterminate number returning to Spain in the years following the expulsion.[24]

The Spanish Jews who chose to leave Spain instead of converting dispersed throughout the region of North Africa known as the Maghreb. In those regions, they often intermingled with the already existing Mizrahi Arabic-speaking communities, becoming the ancestors of the Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, and Libyan Jewish communities.

Many Spanish Jews fled to the Ottoman Empire where they had been given refuge. Sultan Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire, learning about the expulsion of Jews from Spain, dispatched the Ottoman Navy to bring the Jews safely to Ottoman lands, mainly to the cities of Salonika (currently Thessaloniki, now in Greece) and Smyrna (now known in English as zmir, currently in Turkey).[25][bettersourceneeded] Some believe that Persian Jewry (Iranian Jews), as the only community of Jews living under the Shiites, probably suffered more than any Sephardic community (Persian Jews are not[26] Sephardic in descent[27][28]).[29] Many of these Jews also settled in other parts of the Balkans ruled by the Ottomans such as the areas that are now Bulgaria, Serbia, and Bosnia.

Throughout history, scholars have given widely differing numbers of Jews expelled from Spain. However, the figure is likely preferred by minimalist scholars to be below the 100,000 Jews - while others suggest larger numbers - who had not yet converted to Christianity by 1492, possibly as low as 40,000 and as high as 200,000 (while Don Isaac Abarbanel stated he led 300,000 Jews out of Spain) dubbed "Megorashim" ("Expelled Ones", in contrast to the local Jews they met whom they called "Toshavim" - "Citizens") in the Hebrew they had spoken.[30] Many went to Portugal, gaining only a few years of respite from persecution. The Jewish community in Portugal (perhaps then some 10% of that country's population)[31] were then declared Christians by Royal decree unless they left.

Such figures exclude the significant number of Jews who returned to Spain due to the hostile reception they received in their countries of refuge, notably Fez. The situation of returnees was legalized with the Ordinance of 10 November 1492 which established that civil and church authorities should be witness to baptism and, in the case that they were baptized before arrival, proof and witnesses of baptism were required. Furthermore, all property could be recovered by returnees at the same price at which it was sold. Returnees are documented as late as 1499. On the other hand, the Provision of the Royal Council of 24 October 1493 set harsh sanctions for those who slandered these New Christians with insulting terms such as tornados.[32]

As a result of the more recent Jewish exodus from Arab lands, many of the Sephardim Tehorim from Western Asia and North Africa relocated to either Israel or France, where they form a significant portion of the Jewish communities today. Other significant communities of Sephardim Tehorim also migrated in more recent times from the Near East to New York City, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Montreal, Gibraltar, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic.[33][bettersourceneeded] Because of poverty and turmoil in Latin America, another wave of Sephardic Jews joined other Latin Americans who migrated to the United States, Canada, Spain, and other countries of Europe.

According to the genetic study "The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula" at the University Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona and the University of Leicester, led by Briton Mark Jobling, Francesc Calafell, and Elena Bosch, published by the American Journal of Human Genetics, genetic markers show that nearly 20% of Spaniards have Sephardic Jewish markers (direct male descent male for Y, equivalent weight for female mitochondria); residents of Catalonia have approximately 6%. This shows that there was historic intermarriage between ethnic Jews and other Spaniards, and essentially, that some Jews remained in Spain. Similarly, the study showed that some 11% of the population has DNA associated with the Moors.[34]

Today, around 50,000 recognized Jews live in Spain, according to the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain.[35][36] The tiny Jewish community in Portugal is estimated between 1,740 and 3,000 people.[37] Although some are of Ashkenazi origin, the majority are Sephardic Jews who returned to Spain after the end of the protectorate over northern Morocco. A community of 600 Sephardic Jews live in Gibraltar.[38][bettersourceneeded]

In 2011 Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, a leading rabbi and Halachic authority and chairman of the Beit Din Tzedek rabbinical court in Bnei Brak, Israel, recognized the entire community of Sephardi descendants in Palma de Mallorca, the Chuetas, as Jewish.[21] They number approximately 18,000 people or just over 2% of the entire population of the island.

Of the Bnei Anusim community in Belmonte, Portugal, some officially returned to Judaism in the 1970s. They opened a synagogue, Bet Eliahu, in 1996.[39] The Belmonte community of Bnei Anusim as a whole, however, have not yet been granted the same recognition as Jews that the Chuetas of Palma de Majorca achieved in 2011.

In 1924, the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera approved a decree to enable Sephardi Jews to obtain Spanish nationality. Although the deadline was originally the end of 1930, diplomat ngel Sanz Briz used this decree as the basis for giving Spanish citizenship papers to Hungarian Jews in the Second World War to try to save them from the Nazis.

Today, Spanish nationality law generally requires a period of residency in Spain before citizenship can be applied for. This had long been relaxed from ten to two years for Sephardi Jews, Hispanic Americans, and others with historical ties to Spain. In that context, Sephardi Jews were considered to be the descendants of Spanish Jews who were expelled or fled from the country five centuries ago following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.[40]

In 2015 the Government of Spain passed Law 12/2015 of 24 June, whereby Sephardi Jews with a connection to Spain could obtain Spanish nationality by naturalization, without the usual residency requirement. Applicants must provide evidence of their Sephardi origin and some connection with Spain, and pass examinations on the language, government, and culture of Spain.[41]

The Law establishes the right to Spanish nationality of Sephardi Jews with a connection to Spain who apply within three years from 1 October 2015. The law defines Sephardic as Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula until their expulsion in the late fifteenth century, and their descendants.[42] The law provides for the deadline to be extended by one year, to 1 October 2019; it was extended in March 2018.[43] It was modified in 2015 to remove a provision that required persons acquiring Spanish nationality by law 12/2015 must renounce any other nationality held.[44] Most applicants must pass tests of knowledge of the Spanish language and Spanish culture, but those who are under 18, or handicapped, are exempted. A Resolution in May 2017 also exempted those aged over 70.[45]

The Sephardic citizenship law was set to expire in October 2018 but was extended for an additional year by the Spanish government.[46]

The Law states that Spanish citizenship will be granted to "those Sephardic foreign nationals who prove that [Sephardic] condition and their special relationship with our country, even if they do not have legal residence in Spain, whatever their [current] ideology, religion or beliefs."

Eligibility criteria for proving Sephardic descent include: a certificate issued by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, or the production of a certificate from the competent rabbinic authority, legally recognized in the country of habitual residence of the applicant, or other documentation which might be considered appropriate for this purpose; or by justifying one's inclusion as a Sephardic descendant, or a direct descendant of persons included in the list of protected Sephardic families in Spain referred to in the Decree-Law of 29 December 1948, or descendants of those who obtained naturalization by way of the Royal Decree of 20 December 1924; or by the combination of other factors including surnames of the applicant, spoken family language (Spanish, Ladino, Haketia), and other evidence attesting descent from Sephardic Jews and a relationship to Spain. Surnames alone, language alone, or other evidence alone will not be determinative in the granting of Spanish nationality.

The connection with Spain can be established, if kinship with a family on a list of Sephardic families in Spain is not available, by proving that Spanish history or culture have been studied, proof of charitable, cultural, or economic activities associated with Spanish people, or organizations, or Sephardic culture.[41]

The path to Spanish citizenship for Sephardic applicants remained costly and arduous.[47] The Spanish government takes about 810 months to decide on each case.[48] By March 2018, some 6,432 people had been granted Spanish citizenship under the law.[46] A total of about 132,000[49] applications were received, 67,000 of them in the month before the 30 September 2019 deadline. Applications for Portuguese citizenship for Sephardis remained open.[50] The deadline for completing the requirements was extended until September 2021 due to delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but only for those who had made a preliminary application by 1 October 2019.[49]

In what appeared to be a reciprocal gesture, Natan Sharansky, chairman of the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency for Israel, said "the state of Israel must ease the way for their return", referring to the millions of descendants of conversos around Latin America and Iberia. Some hundreds of thousands maybe exploring ways to return to the Jewish people. .[20]

In April 2013 Portugal amended its Law on Nationality to confer citizenship to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the country five centuries ago following the Portuguese Inquisition.

The amended law gave descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews the right to become Portuguese citizens, wherever they lived, if they "belong to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin with ties to Portugal."[51] Portugal thus became the first country after Israel to enact a Jewish Law of Return.

On 29 January 2015, the Portuguese Parliament ratified the legislation offering dual citizenship to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews. Like the law later passed in Spain, the newly established legal rights in Portugal apply to all descendants of Portugal's Sephardic Jews, regardless of the current religion of the descendant, so long as the descendant can demonstrate "a traditional connection" to Portuguese Sephardic Jews. This may be through "family names, family language, and direct or collateral ancestry."[52] Portuguese nationality law was amended to this effect by Decree-Law n. 43/2013, and further amended by Decree-Law n. 30-A/2015, which came into effect on 1 March 2015.[53] Applicants for Portuguese citizenship via this route are assessed by experts at one of Portugal's Jewish communities in either Lisbon or Porto.[54]

In a reciprocal response to the Portuguese legislation, Michael Freund, Chairman of Shavei Israel told news agencies in 2015 that he "call[s] on the Israeli government to embark on a new strategic approach and to reach out to the [Sephardic] Bnei Anousim, people whose Spanish and Portuguese Jewish ancestors were compelled to convert to Catholicism more than five centuries ago."[55]

By July 2017 the Portuguese government had received about 5,000 applications, mostly from Brazil, Israel, and Turkey. 400 had been granted, with a period between application and resolution of about two years.[48] In 2017 a total of 1,800 applicants had been granted Portuguese citizenship.[56] By February 2018, 12,000 applications were in process.[56]

The most typical traditional language of Sephardim is Judeo-Spanish, also called Judezmo or Ladino. It is a Romance language derived mainly from Old Castilian (Spanish), with many borrowings from Turkish, and to a lesser extent from Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and French.Until recently, two different dialects of Judeo-Spanish were spoken in the Mediterranean region: Eastern Judeo-Spanish (in various distinctive regional variations) and Western or North African Judeo-Spanish (also known as akita). The latter was once spoken, with little regional distinction, in six towns in Northern Morocco. Because of later emigration, it was also spoken by Sephardim in Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish cities in North Africa), Gibraltar, Casablanca (Morocco), and Oran (Algeria).

The Eastern Sephardic dialect is typified by its greater conservatism, its retention of numerous Old Spanish features in phonology, morphology, and lexicon, and its numerous borrowings from Turkish and, to a lesser extent, also from Greek and South Slavic. Both dialects have (or had) numerous borrowings from Hebrew, especially in reference to religious matters. But the number of Hebraisms in everyday speech or writing is in no way comparable to that found in Yiddish, the first language for some time among Ashkenazi Jews in Europe.

On the other hand, the North African Sephardic dialect was, until the early 20th century, also highly conservative; its abundant Colloquial Arabic loan words retained most of the Arabic phonemes as functional components of a new, enriched Hispano-Semitic phonological system. During the Spanish colonial occupation of Northern Morocco (19121956), akita was subjected to pervasive, massive influence from Modern Standard Spanish. Most Moroccan Jews now speak a colloquial, Andalusian form of Spanish, with only occasional use of the old language as a sign of in-group solidarity. Similarly, American Jews may now use an occasional Yiddishism in colloquial speech. Except for certain younger individuals, who continue to practice akita as a matter of cultural pride, this dialect, probably the most Arabized of the Romance languages apart from Mozarabic, has essentially ceased to exist.

By contrast, Eastern Judeo-Spanish has fared somewhat better, especially in Israel, where newspapers, radio broadcasts, and elementary school and university programs strive to keep the language alive. But the old regional variations (i.e. Bosnia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and Turkey for instance) are already either extinct or doomed to extinction. Only time will tell whether Judeo-Spanish koin, now evolving in Israelsimilar to that which developed among Sephardic immigrants to the United States early in the 20th century- will prevail and survive into the next generation.[57]

Judo-Portuguese was used by Sephardim especially among the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. The pidgin forms of Portuguese spoken among slaves and their Sephardic owners were an influence in the development of Papiamento and the Creole languages of Suriname.

Other Romance languages with Jewish forms, spoken historically by Sephardim, include Judeo-Catalan. Often underestimated, this language was the main language used by the Jewish communities in Catalonia, Balearic Isles and the Valencian region. The Gibraltar community has had a strong influence on the Gibraltar dialect Llanito, contributing several words to this English/Spanish patois.

Other languages associated with Sephardic Jews are mostly extinct, e. g. Corfiot Italkian, formerly spoken by some Sephardic communities in Italy.[58] Judeo-Arabic and its dialects have been a large vernacular language for Sephardim who settled in North African kingdoms and Arabic-speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire. Low German (Low Saxon), formerly used as the vernacular by Sephardim around Hamburg and Altona in Northern Germany, is no longer in use as a specifically Jewish vernacular.

Through their diaspora, Sephardim have been a polyglot population, often learning or exchanging words with the language of their host population, most commonly Italian, Arabic, Greek, Turkish, and Dutch. They were easily integrated with the societies that hosted them. Within the last centuries and, more particularly the 19th and 20th centuries, two languages have become dominant in the Sephardic diaspora: French, introduced first by the Alliance Isralite Universelle, and then by absorption of new immigrants to France after Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria became independent, and Hebrew in the state of Israel.[citation needed]

The doctrine of galut is considered by scholars to be one of the most important concepts in Jewish history, if not the most important. In Jewish literature glut, the Hebrew word for diaspora, invoked common motifs of oppression, martyrdom, and suffering in discussing the collective experience of exile in diaspora that has been uniquely formative in Jewish culture. This literature was shaped for centuries by the expulsions from Spain and Portugal and thus featured prominently in a wide range of medieval Jewish literature from rabbinic writings to profane poetry. Even so, the treatment of glut diverges in Sephardic sources, which scholar David A. Wacks says "occasionally belie the relatively comfortable circumstances of the Jewish community of Sefarad."[59]

The precise origins of the Jewish communities of the Iberian peninsula are unclear. There is fragmentary and inconclusive evidence of a Jewish presence on the Iberian Peninsula dating from pre-Roman times. More substantial references date from the Roman period.

The Provenal Rabbi and scholar Rabbi Abraham ben David wrote in anno 1161: "A tradition exists with the [Jewish] community of Granada that they are from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, of the descendants of Judah and Benjamin, rather than from the villages, the towns in the outlying districts [of Israel]."[60] Elsewhere, he writes about his maternal grandfather's family and how they came to Spain: "When Titus prevailed over Jerusalem, his officer who was appointed over Hispania appeased him, requesting that he send to him captives made-up of the nobles of Jerusalem, and so he sent a few of them to him, and there were amongst them those who made curtains and who were knowledgeable in the work of silk, and [one] whose name was Baruch, and they remained in Mrida."[61] Here, Rabbi Abraham ben David refers to the second influx of Jews into Spain, shortly after the destruction of Israel's Second Temple in 70 CE.

The earliest mention of Spain is, allegedly, found in Obadiah 1:20: "And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel who are among the Canaanites as far as arfat (Hebrew: ), and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the south." While the medieval lexicographer, David ben Abraham Al-Fs, identifies arfat with the city of arfend (Judeo-Arabic: ),[62] the word Sepharad (Hebrew: ) in the same verse has been translated by the first-century rabbinic scholar, Yonathan Ben Uzziel, as Aspamia.[63] Based on a later teaching in the compendium of Jewish oral laws compiled by Rabbi Judah Hanasi in 189 CE, known as the Mishnah, Aspamia is associated with a very far place, generally thought of as Hispania, or Spain.[64] In circa 960 CE, isdai ibn apr, minister of trade in the court of the Caliph in Crdoba, wrote to Joseph, the king of Khazaria, saying: "The name of our land in which we dwell is called in the sacred tongue, Sefarad, but in the language of the Arabs, the indwellers of the lands, Alandalus [Andalusia], the name of the capital of the kingdom, Crdoba."[65]

According to Rabbi David Kimchi (11601235), in his commentary on Obadiah 1:20, arfat and Sepharad, both, refer to the Jewish captivity (Heb. galut) expelled during the war with Titus and who went as far as the countries Alemania (Germany), Escalona,[66] France and Spain. The names arfat and Sepharad are explicitly mentioned by him as being France and Spain, respectively. Some scholars think that, in the case of the place-name, arfat (lit. arfend) which, as noted, was applied to the Jewish Diaspora in France, the association with France was made only exegetically because of its similarity in spelling with the name (France), by a reversal of its letters.

Spanish Jew Moses de Len (ca. 1250 1305) mentions a tradition concerning the first Jewish exiles, saying that the vast majority of the first exiles driven away from the land of Israel during the Babylonian captivity refused to return, for they had seen that the Second Temple would be destroyed like the first.[67] In yet another teaching, passed down later by Moses ben Machir in the 16th century, an explicit reference is made to the fact that Jews have lived in Spain since the destruction of the First Temple:[68]

Now, I have heard that this praise, emet weyaiv [which is now used by us in the prayer rite] was sent by the exiles who have driven away from Jerusalem and who were not with Ezra in Babylon and that Ezra had sent inquiring after them, but they did not wish to go up [there], replied that since they were destined to go off again into exile a second time, and that the Temple would once again be destroyed, why should we then double our anguish? It is best for us that we remain here in our place and to serve God. Now, I have heard that they are the people of ulayulah (Toledo) and those who are near to them. However, that they might not be thought of as wicked men and those who are lacking in fidelity, may God forbid, they wrote down for them this magnanimous praise, etc.

Similarly, Gedaliah ibn Jechia the Spaniard has written:[69]

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