Monday, May 9, 2011

Sephardi Jews

Sepharad was the name the Jews gave to the Iberian Peninsula since the 2nd century AD. In modern Hebrew it means "Spain". When the Catholic Monarchs decided to expel the Jews who didn´t convert to Christianity in 1492, the Jews who left their kingdoms were called Sephardi or Sephardic. They settled down in different parts of the Mediterranean coasts: the most part of them settled down in the Ottoman Empire, especially in the cities of Salonica (present Greece) and Istanbul (present Turkey). Others settled down in Northern Morocco and Algeria. These Jewish communities preserved their language, a variation of old Castilian called Ladino or Judezmo. These Sephardi communities still speak this language. It´s very curious to listen to them, because you can have an idea of how old Castilian sounded in the 15th century like. 

Here you have a link with more information about Ladino: 

And here you have an example of Luz de Sefarad, a weekly radio programme totally spoken in Ladino. It´s broadcasted on Radio 5, a Spanish radio station, every Saturday at 19:40. If you click on Play, you will be able to understand almost everything:

And here you have the link to other Luz de Sefarad podcasts: 


Kelly said...

I think it's interesting for you to know that the first Jewish congregation in North America was founded in 1684 in New York City by Spanish and Portuguese Sephardic Jews. It's called Shearith Israel and it's still active today.

I think it's really interesting to see how our histories and cultures are connected.

Here you can see their website:

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Thanks Kelly! This is really interesting. It´s a really curious story. The Catholic Monarchs couldn´t have imagined this ;)

Another interesting fact of the history of the Jewish expulsions from different kingdoms in Europe is that everybody knows the expulsion decided by the Catholic Monarchs, but not so many people know that the first expulsion was in England in 1290. The Jews were also expelled from France, different Germanic and Italian States and Austria. The last big expulsions were the ones of the Iberian Peninsula: first Castile and Aragon (1492) and after Portugal (1496).

How many things we´re learning this year!