Between History and Memory: Understanding Jewish Life in Medieval Spain
Monday, December 11, 1:00 PM
The Jews of medieval Spain represent one of the most fabled societies in all of Jewish history. Already in the Middle Ages, Jewish writers had begun to extol the virtues of Jewish Spain, or “Sepharad,” presenting it as a land of poets and philosophers, wealthy merchants and pious rabbis. Its reputation was such that, even after the summary expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492, the legend of a Golden Age of Jewish culture continued to grow. Centuries of nostalgia, pride, hope, and guilt have sustained, and embellished, the memory of medieval Sepharad among Jews and non-Jews alike. But the reality of daily life for medieval Jews was often far different, and perhaps far more familiar, than these legends would have us believe. This talk will highlight some of the key aspects of the Jewish experience in medieval Spain, and consider the reasons for some of the more idealized images of their society, past and present. Presented by the Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program and sponsored by TBS Adult Learning.
Jonathan Rayis the Samuel Eig Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University. He holds a B.A. from Tufts University in History and Religion, and a Ph.D. in Jewish History from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Professor Ray specializes in medieval and early modern Jewish history, focusing on Sephardic Jews. He is the author of several books and articles on Jewish history and culture. His latest book, Jewish Life in Medieval Spain: A New History (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), illuminates interfaith relations in Spain from the Jewish perspective. Use the code RAYJ30 to get a 30% discount when you purchase the book from Universityh of Pennsylvania Press.