Substantive and adjective, name "séfarade" is applied to the Jews whose ancestors lived in medieval Spain, and more generally the members of the Jewish communities not ashkénazes. In the book of the prophet Abdias (verse 20), the term "Sefarad" is a locality where remain exiled of Jerusalem.
Although, for the modern scientists, this biblical verse applied to Sardinian as a Lydie, it was brought back to Ispania or Ispamia by the first Jewish commentators. In medieval and modern Hebrew, Sefarad is equivalent to Spain. Today, séfarade tends to supplant in the use the erudite forms sefardi or sefaraddi (plural sefardim or sefaraddim), which derives directly from Hebrew. One distinguishes three major periods in the history from the séfarades. The first goes from the legendary origins (a colony salomonienne to Spain) to the expulsion of the Jews of Spain (1492). Until VIIe century, the rise of the communities of the Mediterranean basin and Spain is achieved without encumbers, in relation to the hearths Palestinian and Babylonian.
In 589, following conversion with the Catholicism of the king Reccarède Visigoth, one century of persecution for the Jews of Spain starts, persecution to which puts an end the Moslem invasion (711). Period included/understood between 711 and 1036, which coincides with the time of the caliphate of Cordoue and the Islamic kingdoms which succeeded to him, is regarded as the golden age of the Spanish Judaism. To XIe century mainly, the Judaism séfarade contributes to the rebirth of the Hebraic language with its grammairiens, its lexicographers and its poets (in particular Solomon ibn Gabirol, Moïse ibn Ezra and Juda Hallevi); this revival gives to the Western Judaism its first large talmudist, Isaac Ben Jacob Al-Fasi, and his philosopher, Moïse Ben Maimon, known as Maimonide.
The invasion of Almohades, on the one hand, Reconquista, on the other hand, involve in XIIe century the migration of the Jews of Andalusia towards Spain of the North, which is Christian. The Jewish communities, controls by fueros (royal privileges) and by their own constitutions (ascamot), carry out to it a peaceful existence founded on a very diversified economy (energy of the farmer to the farmer of revenue).
The Spanish rabbis enjoy a prestige recognized in all Europe, particularly Moïse Ben Nahman, said Nahmanide, and Solomon Ben Adret. Moïse de León, rabbi with Ávila, transcribed (or written) the Master delivers cabal, Zohar. The Jews take part in the blossoming of science and the literature Castilians, in particular under Alfonse the Scientist (1254-1284).
In 1391, a wave of massacres, inaugurated in Seville on March 15, breaks on the communities of Castille and Aragon, determining the apostasy and the emigration of multiple families, as well as the disappearance of whole communities like that of Barcelona.
The effort of restoration of XVe century cannot prevent the decline of the Spanish communities, whose Enquiry claims expulsion. Issued on March 30, 1492 with the palate of Alhambra de Grenade, the expulsion of the Jews of Spain puts an end to the major hearth medieval Judaism. It opens one period known as Diaspora séfarade (1492-1776). From now on dispersed Othoman Empire, its principal establishment in the New World (with crypto-Jews initially and communities declared at the XVIIe century), the Judaism séfarade preserves a unit of culture, of organization of the Community type, language (medieval Spanish become the Judeo-Spanish or ladino and Portuguese).
The great communities of exiled from Spain are in Constantinople and Salonique, but also in Venice, in Amsterdam, in London, in Pernambouc (in Brazil) and Curaç ao. Jewish Holy Land population hispanise largely with the rebirth, thanks to Spanish immigration, of Jerusalem, of Safed (where Joseph Caro writes a code known as?ulhan Arukh - been useful table - soon adopted by the whole of the Judaism), of Hebron and Tibériade. XVIe century is the century of gold for the communities of Turkey and Greece: printing works that they establish there diffuse the intellectual creation of the medieval Judaism and intense Hebraic and Judeo-Spanish flowering posterior with the expulsion of 1492. With XVIIe century, although less populated, the "Portuguese" communities, (England, France, United Provinces, Americas) take part vigorously in the rise of the Atlantic trade and constitute a kind of federation around Amsterdam, whose mental activity is exceptional, although Baruch de Spinoza is brought to be detached some, and whose imposing synagogue, Esnoga, makes the admiration of the European visitors.
In 1666, communities of the East and Occident are taken in the Messianic effervescence of the "mystical Messiah" of Smyrna, Sabbatai Zevi, Séfarades and Ashkénazes awaiting an imminent redemption. To the XVIIIe century, Leghorn tends to exceed Amsterdam like centers major Judaism séfarade in Occident by its commercial activity and the production of its Hebraic presses. However, the crisis of the Othoman Empire reaches Eastern communities which impoverish themselves, while the social problems overpower those of Occident, in particular of Amsterdam.
With the extreme dispersion of the families a kind of abstract world organization of Séfarades was established. One new period starts with the independence of the United States of America in 1776. Rejoined by the rabbi Gershom Seixas with the cause of independence, the American Jews obtain a statute of equality, thus offering to the Jews of Europe a model of emancipation. The model is taken again by French Séfarades, which makes countryside in 1789, in.liaison.with Ashkénazes of Alsace initially, only then, for obtaining the rights of active citizens. Emancipation of the Jews of France (29 seven. 1791) is mainly a?uvre séfarade. From now on, the French model inspires the Jewish communities of the East and Occident in search of an emancipation putting an end to their medieval statute. In fact, oppression is prolonged in North Africa and the East until 1860.
This year is created in Paris the Alliance universal Jew, which attempts to promote the statutory mode, economic and school of the Eastern communities: its network of schools, of North Africa in Balkans and Perse, prepares the Jews to enter the modern world; its interventions obtain a retreat of arbitrary in these countries. However the vital organs of the Judaism séfarade empty their manpower with the emigration towards the Occident and America, while Spanish moves back in front of progress of French at the Eastern séfarades. Song of the swan of the culture séfarade, a Judeo-Spanish press, of an extraordinary richness and a diffusion, popularizes at XIXe and the XXe century the intellectual inheritance séfarade and the Western contribution (multiple translations of the French novels, of which those of Alexandre Dumas and Eugene Sue). New currents are expressed in this press, Socialist or nationalist (the rabbi Juda Alkalai is a precursor of the political Zionism). Like the communities ashkénazes, the communities séfarades are struck by the holocaust hitlérien in their most authentic centers, in Bulgaria and Greece especially (the deportation of the Jews of Salonique made disappear the hearth from the Judeo-Spanish speech).
Today, the North-African communities are in the course of liquidation and the groupings séfarades of the Diaspora are in France and in the United States (more than 30 000 in New York); nearly 60 p. 100 of the population of Israel are séfarades. In Israel, so traditionally the chief rabbi of Israel séfarade, known as Rishon Sion, has preeminence on the chief rabbi ashkénaze, the life political, economic, intellectual is largely dominated by the element ashkénaze, and the disparity of the standards of living between one and the other element pose a serious problem. The studies séfarades, neglected a long time, make spectacular great strides with work of the institute Arias Montano of Madrid, the institute Ben Zvi in Jerusalem, the world Institute for the studies séfarades of New York, the lesson of language and civilization séfarades of the Institute of the languages and Eastern civilizations of Paris.

According to Encyclopediae Universalis
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