A Minority within a Minority

Reflections on Shephardi Identity

in European Judaism
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  • 1 University of Cambridge
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Anyone who observes the way the term 'Sephardi' is used will rapidly become aware that there is a fundamental contrast between its use to describe a group of second-class citizens in modern Israel, and its use to describe the creators of a 'Golden Age' in Spanish in the tenth and eleventh centuries. The modern Israeli press can even be found using the term 'Sephardim' to describe Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen and India, the first group of whom have never even lived under Muslim rule, and who have their own very distinctive traditions. In part, this turns on the confusion of terminology that was created by the emergence of two Chief Rabbinates in Israel, with one looking after the Ashkenazim, and the other, the Rishon le-Zion, concerned with Sephardim and the rest.