Abstract

This article sketches historical shifts in the meanings and associations of the term “Sephardi.” Post-Iberian migrations and the post-emancipation perception of European Jews potentially made “Sephardi” the main marker of the “Eastern half” within binary ethnic discourse reflecting the “ingathering” of Jews in Palestine and the State of Israel. This did not evolve, paralleling a historically based reluctance of old-time Sephardim to be identified with “Easterners.” Instead, broad ethnic divides were coded utilizing the lexeme mizrah. “Sephardi” retained some prominence and partially “reverted” to its associations with religion. Relevant factors were a dual rabbinate and the emergent Israeli Shas party combining politics, religion, and “Sephardism.” There is also evidence that the images and terms “Sephardi” and “Mizrahi” gradually became coeval in valence to “Ashkenazi” within Israeli discourse regarding “religion.”

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 165-188
Launched on MUSE
2009-03-11
Open Access
No
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