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The Other Exodus: The Sephardic Jews and the Ottoman Empire After 1492

September 17, 2015 from 6:30pm EST
Turkish Embassy, 2525 NW Massachusetts Ave., Washington, DC
Speaker: Jonathan Ray, Georgetown University


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The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 represents one of the greatest tragedies in Jewish history, ending a thousand years of prosperity, cultural vitality and intellectual productivity of one of Europe's largest Jewish communities. Yet amid tragedy, the exiles of 1492 were able to find new hope and new beginnings. The expulsion of Europe's last major Jewish community gave rise to the Sephardic Diaspora a dynamic and resilient network of families and communities centered on the burgeoning cities of the Ottoman Empire.

Prof. Jonathan Ray will trace the migration and resettlement of Sephardic Jews from Inquisitorial Spain to the Ottoman Levant, and offer a glimpse into this fascinating portrait of two societies in transition. He will discuss some of the central features of Ottoman Sephardic life, including the rise of Salonika as a "second Jerusalem," and the development of Ladino literary culture. Along the way, he will explore the complexities of Ottoman Jewish history, and challenge some popular notions about the nature of Jewish-Muslim relations.

This lecture is underwritten by a generous grant from Saltzman & Evinch law firm.