Exiles in Sepharad


Exiles in Sepharad

The Jewish Millennium in Spain

Jeffrey Gorsky

432 pages
3 photographs, 1 chronology


June 2015


$27.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2015


$27.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2015


$27.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The dramatic one-thousand-year history of Jews in Spain comes to life in Exiles in Sepharad. Jeffrey Gorsky vividly relates this colorful period of Jewish history, from the era when Jewish culture was at its height in Muslim Spain to the horrors of the Inquisition and the Expulsion.

Twenty percent of Jews today are descended from Sephardic Jews, who created significant works in religion, literature, science, and philosophy. They flourished under both Muslim and Christian rule, enjoying prosperity and power unsurpassed in Europe. Their cultural contributions include important poets; the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides; and Moses de Leon, author of the Zohar, the core text of the Kabbalah.

But these Jews also endured considerable hardship. Fundamentalist Islamic tribes drove them from Muslim to Christian Spain. In 1391 thousands were killed and more than a third were forced to convert by anti-Jewish rioters. A century later the Spanish Inquisition began, accusing thousands of these converts of heresy. By the end of the fifteenth century Jews had been expelled from Spain and forcibly converted in Portugal and Navarre. After almost a millennium of harmonious existence, what had been the most populous and prosperous Jewish community in Europe ceased to exist on the Iberian Peninsula.

Author Bio

Jeffrey Gorsky is a lawyer and diplomat at the U.S. Department of State. He is a nationally recognized expert in immigration law, a former U.S. vice-consul in Bilbao, Spain, and a former Iberian intelligence analyst.


"[Exiles in Sepharad is] a nuanced work that acknowledges both the heights and depths of the Jewish experience in Spain, where Jews enjoyed a level of prosperity, acclaim and power not matched anywhere else in Europe."—Sheldon Kirshner, Times of Israel

“A personal and accessible narrative that tells a remarkable story yet is grounded in solid scholarship.”—Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, Sephardic Educational Center

“With a broad scope that will appeal to a wide readership, this work will be useful as a comprehensive resource on the history of the Spanish Jews.”—Gregory B. Kaplan, author of Marginal Voices: Studies in Converso Literature of Medieval and Golden Age Spain

“A lucid, readable summary . . . that brings the key personalities to life and explores the intricate relationship between religious hatred, politics, and economics.”—Rabbi Hayyim Angel, National Scholar at the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals and professor of Bible at Yeshiva University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



Introduction: The Jewish Millennium in Spain

Part 1. La Convivencia

1. A Marriage of Convenience

2. The Visigoth Persecution of the Jews

3. Muslim Rule

4. Jews of Muslim Spain

5. Judah Halevi and The Kuzari

6. A Golden Age of Poetry

7. The End of the Caliphate

8. Maimonides

9. Christian Rule

10. Jews in Castile and Aragon

11. Book of Splendorand Kabbalah Mysticism

Part 2. The End of Tolerance

12. Toward 1391

13. Seeds of Destruction

14. The Conversion of the Jews

15. The Church Campaign against the Jews, Postconversion

Part 3. The Age of the Converts

16. New Christians

17. Converts and Castile

18. Anti- and Pro-Converso Writings

Part 4. The Spanish Inquisition

19. The Catholic Monarchy

20. Origins of the Inquisition

21. The Inquisition

22. Arrest, Trial, and Punishment

23. Inquisition Expansion

Part 5. The Last Iberian Jews

24. Spain and Expulsion

25. The Last Jews of Iberia

Part 6. After Expulsion

26. Purity of Blood

27. Jewish Blood, Black Blood

28. Conversos and the Beginnings of the Modern Novel

29. Coming to America

Conclusion: The Millennium in Spain, and After