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Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews or simply Sephardim (Hebrew: סְפָרַדִּי, Modern Sfaraddi Tiberian Səp̄āraddî), are a Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews traces back to immigrants originating in the Israelite tribes of the Middle East who coalesced in the Iberian Peninsula around the turn of the first millennium. They established communities throughout Spain and Portugal, where they traditionally resided evolving what would become their distinctive characteristics and diasporic identity. Their millennial residence as an open and organised Jewish community in Iberia was brought to an end starting with the issuance of the Alhambra Decree by Spain's Catholic Monarchs in the late 15th century, which resulted in a combination of internal and external migrations, mass conversions, and executions.
Historically, the vernacular language of Sephardi Jews was Ladino, a Romance language derived from Old Spanish, incorporating elements from all the old Romance languages of the Iberian Peninsula, Hebrew, Aramaic, and in the lands receiving those who were exiled, Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian vocabulary.
More broadly, the term Sephardim has today also come to refer to traditionally Eastern Jewish communities of West Asia and beyond who, although not having genealogical roots in the Jewish communities of Iberia, have adopted a Sephardic style of liturgy and Sephardic law and customs imparted to them by the Iberian Jewish exiles over the course of the last few centuries.
In Hebrew, the term "Sephardim Tehorim" is used when distinguishing Sephardim proper from Sephardim in the broader religious sense. This article deals with Sephardim Tehorim, in the narrower ethnic definition of Sephardi.
- Mintz, Alan L. "The Boom in Contemporary Israeli Fiction." University Press of New England (Hanover, NH, USA). 1997. p115
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