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Introduction to Volume 1 The beginnings of the Jewish settlement in Spain are shrouded in legend , tangled in invented traditions, and fabricated by fake documentation. At different times, Jews and non-Jews sought to date the origins of the Jews on the Iberian Peninsula to the era of King Solomon or to the sixth century B.C.E., when King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the First Temple. But these were only mythic narratives of origin that served political, religious , and ideological goals. Archaeological evidence points to a later period , namely to the first and second centuries C.E.—particularly after the destruction of the Second Temple—as a more likely period.1 In contrast, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain is a well-documented event. On March 31, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen of Castile, signed the “Edict of Expulsion,” ordering that: . . . all the said Jews and Jewesses of our realms shall leave and never return nor come back to them or to any of them. And upon this we order that this our edict be given by which we order all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age they may be who live and dwell and are in our said realms and dominions, as well as the nativeborn among them as those not native-born who in any manner and for any reason have come and are in them, that by the end of the next month of July that comes in the present year they shall leave all our said realms and dominions with their sons and daughters and servants and maidservants and Jewish followers, as well as the great as the small, of whatever age they may be, and that they do not dare to return to them or to be in them or in any part of them, whether dwelling or in transit or in any other manner, under the penalty that if they do not do so and comply, and are found to be in our said realms and dominions or to come to them in any manner, xxxi they incur the punishment of death and the confiscation of all their property to our exchequer and treasury, and these penalties are incurred by that same fact and law with no other trial nor sentence nor declaration.2 By the end of July 1492 (the seventh of the month of Av, 5252, according to the Jewish calendar), an estimated 200,000 Jews departed Spain and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, which were ruled by Spain, by boats and on foot, heading to Mediterranean countries, to North Africa, to Portugal, and north to Navarre.3 Thus ended a period of 1,500 years in which Jewish life in Spain had witnessed turbulence and calm, repression and prosperity, persecution and prominence.4 Thus also began a new era in the life of Spanish Jewry, a period of a secondary Diaspora in which they were dispersed again among the nations and became known as the Jews from Spain, the Sephardim.5 Life after the Edict of Expulsion Expelled from their country, the Sephardim began to form their own communities in their new lands. Although Spain had uprooted them, they could not, nor wished to, reject their own Hispanic cultural heritage. Rather, proud of their country of origin in spite of the hardship it had inflicted upon them, they preserved the language they spoke, the songs they sang, and the stories they told. Sparse linguistic evidence indicates, and sheer logic suggests, that Jews spoke Judeo-Spanish on the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in 1492.6 The literary use of JudeoSpanish is evident from a fifteenth-century text of Santob de Carrión (alias Shem Tov ben Ardutiel, ca. 1290–ca. 1369), written in Spanish with Hebrew letters, entitled Proverbios Morales, or Consejos y Documentos al Rey Don Pedro. The text is a collection of versified proverbs that were most likely a part of everyday speech.7 Once the Jews were out of Spain, they resorted to, and in the process preserved, the language they had earlier spoken: Judeo-Spanish, or, as they called it, H.akitia (in Morocco); Franko, Jfudyezmo, Jfidyó Jfudyó, Lingwa Jfudyó , Zhude Espanyol, or Zhargon (in the Ottoman Empire); and Spanyolit, Ladino, or Zhude Espanyol (in Israel).8 They transmitted their language, which included Hebrew and Spanish words, to their descendants , who had never been in Spain. Like their language, their oral traditions in poetry, prose, and proverbial speech combined Spanish and Hebrew themes...


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