An Alternative Path to Modernity: The Sephardi Diaspora in Western Europe

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BRILL, 1996 - Religion - 309 pages
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The essays in this volume deal with the social and intellectual history of the Western Spanish and Portuguese Jews who established new communities in Northwestern Europe during the seventeenth century. The founders of these communities were mainly former "Marranos," descendants of those Jews who had converted to Christianity in the closing years of the Middle Ages. After being separated from the Jewish world for many generations, they returned to Judaism and became an integral part of the Sephardi nation. Amsterdam became the metropolis of this new Jewish diaspora, which was characterised by both its involvement in colonial trade and its intellectual ferment. The reencounter of these Jews with Judaism was a complex affair, and for many of these former New Christians rabbinic Judaism aroused harsh criticism. In order to set the boundaries of their new identity, the leadership of the Sephardi communities of Amsterdam, Hamburg and London adopted a variety of strategies designed to rein in these wayward spirits. This process of socialisation into the Jewish world created a new type of Judaism, and those whose Jewish life was framed by this new amalgam can be considered the precursors of modernity in European Jewish society.
 

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Contents

For Whom Did Emanuel De Witte Paint His Three Pic
29
The SelfDefinition of the Sephardi Jews of Western
51
Amsterdam and Ashkenazi Migration in the Seventeenth
78
The Social Functions of the Herem
108
Deviance and Excommunication in the Eighteenth Cen
143
The Place of the Herem in the Sephardi Community
168
Sephardi Students at the University of Leiden
196
The Attitude of the Sephardi Leadership in Amsterdam
211
Karaites in the Early Eighteenth Century
234
The Threat of Eros in EighteenthCentury Sephardi
280
Place and Name Index
301
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About the author (1996)

Yosef Kaplan is the Bernard Cherrick Professor of Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published extensively on the history of the "Marranos" and the Western Sephardi diaspora, including "From Christianity to Judaism" (Oxford, 1989), "The Western Sephardi Diaspora" (Tel Aviv, 1994), and "Les Nouveux juifs d'Amsterdam" (Paris, 1998).

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