Sephardic Jews - Orientation



Strictly speaking, Sephardic Jews (singular, Sephardi; plural, Sephardim) are descendants of Jews who lived in Spain or Portugal before they were expelled from the former in 1492. The name "Sephardim" is derived from "Sephard," the term used by Jews in medieval times to refer to the Iberian Peninsula. Also included in the Sephardic category are Conversos (Marranos, New Christians, Judeos, Chuetas), Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism in Spain and Portugal but continued to practice Judaism and maintain their Jewish identity in secret. Today, the label "Sephardic Jew" is often used in a broader sense to include all Jews who follow Sephardic religious practice, as contrasted with those who follow Ashkenazic traditions. Because of the dissemination of Sephardic publications and, after 1492, the resettlement of Sephardic Jews throughout the Middle East and North Africa, many Jews from these regions are today classified as Sephardim, whether or not they are descended from Jews from the Iberian Peninsula.


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