The sixth in our series exploring new research. Jane Gerber discusses her new book "Cities of Splendour in the Shaping of Sephardi History."
Sephardi identity has meant different things at different times, but has always entailed a connection with Spain, from which the Jews were expelled in 1492. While Sephardi Jews have lived in numerous cities and towns throughout history, certain cities had a greater impact in the shaping of their culture. This book focuses on those that may be considered most important, from Cordoba in the tenth century to Toledo, Venice, Safed, Istanbul, Salonica, and Amsterdam at the dawn of the seventeenth century. Each served as a venue in which a particular dimension of Sephardi Jewry either took shape or was expressed in especially intense form. Significantly, these cities were mostly heterogeneous in their population and culture - half of them under Christian rule and half under Muslim rule - and this too shaped the Sephardi world-view and attitude. While Sephardim cultivated a distinctive identity, they felt at home in the cultures of their adopted lands. Drawing upon a variety of both primary and secondary sources, Jane Gerber demonstrates that Sephardi history and culture have always been multifaceted.
Jane S. Gerber is Professor Emerita of History and director of the Institute for Sephardic Studies at the Graduate Center of the CUNY. She is a past president of the Association for Jewish Studies. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the Hebrew University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and has lectured widely in the United States and elsewhere. She headed the Advisory Board of the American Sephardi Federation and served on the Academic Advisory Council of the Center for Jewish History and the Academic Board of the Rothberg School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
For more about the book: https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/books/id/41860/