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Sephardi Sources

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Ashkenazi Jews, Origin

Jo Anne Crowson from California wrote:
Dear Rabbi,

Shalom! Can you please give me some information on the origins and history of Sephardic Jews? Though I am not Jewish, I enjoy your posts, and think you have a delightful sense of humor! Blessings and thanks.


Dear Jo Anne Crowson,

After the Destruction of the First Temple, around 450 BCE, the Jews were exiled to Babylon (modern day Iraq). After the 70-year exile many returned.

However, the majority of the Jews did not return, preferring Babylon instead. The Jews in Israel were again exiled in 70 CE, this time by the Romans. The Roman exile created communities in Europe and North Africa. The European communities were mainly in France, Spain and Rome, some in Germany as well. The Jews in France and Germany became known as Ashkenazim (Hebrew for "Germans") and the Jews in Spain became known as Sephardim (Hebrew for "Spaniards"). The Jews in Spain, which for hundreds of years was under Arab rule, had connection and communication with the Jews of North Africa and the Middle East, and hence all the Jews of these lands became known as Sephardim. Differences in custom developed over many years; some had their origin in halachic disputes among the Rabbis of the various communities, and some in outside cultural influences.


 
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