The Sephardic Diaspora After 1492

Or, the story of how the so-called marranos returned to Judaism.

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Becoming Western

That the Sephardic Jews of western Europe formed a distinct entity in the story of Jewish life in Europe is evident in the dramatic decision by the French Revolutionary government to extend full political equality to the Sephardic Jews of France in 1790. Ashkenazic Jewry in France had to wait a year and a half longer for their own legal recognition.

Historians consider this time lag significant in part because the Sephardic Jews themselves petitioned the government not to consider Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews as part of the same entity--an ongoing testament to a distinctive Sephardic self-image. Indeed, the earlier inclusion of the Sephardic Jews in France points to their success at acculturation into their western surroundings and the sense, in the eyes of their neighbors, of their rightful belonging.

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Joshua Teplitsky is a doctoral candidate at New York University in the departments of History and Hebrew & Judaic Studies. His research focuses on the Jewish experience in early modern Prague, and the culture of Jews in early modern Europe more generally.