On March 31, 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand signed an edict banishing all Jews from the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. While Jewish communities had faced the dissolution of their age-old settlements throughout Iberia (a region of southwestern Europe that includes Spain and Portugal), it was the expulsion of Jews in Castile, Portugal, and Navarre after the reconquest of Islam in 1492 that would strike at the very soul of Jewish identity and echo across the centuries. Iberian (Sephardic) Jews, who had attained unprecedented heights of political, economic, and social integration, now had to confront their downfall, as they were dispersed and their culture was transformed.
Leading scholars in Jewish history, philosophy, literature, religion, and linguistics reflect on the traumatic expulsions and their aftermath in Jewish, European, and Mediterranean cultures. In fifteen essays the contributors bring into sharp relief three themes: the cultural vitality of the Sephardim in the waning years of their life on the Iberian Peninsula; the agonizing choice between religious conversion and exile; and the driving influence of cultural survival and change that permeated Sephardic intellectual and literary life. The result is a sweeping and instructive survey of Jewish catastrophe -- one that serves as a reference point to the tragic course of modern history.
The volume is nicely introduced by Yosef Yerushalmi's meditation on the concepts of exile and expulsion in the Jewish collective memory (as well as in the works oif modern historians). -- Bernard D. Cooperman, University of Maryland Sixteenth Century Journal Like the holocaust, the 1492 expulsion demands attention as a chapter in European as much as Jewish history. This wide-ranging symposium explores antecedents, causes, mechanics, and aftermath in fifteen studies reflecting the recent flowering of the 1492 scholarship... The resulting collection is a worthy introduction to that epic of tragedy and triumph. -- Robert I. Burns, S.J., author of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Crusader Kingdom of Valencia Societies in Symbiosis