The Road from Babylon: The Story of Sephardi and Oriental Jews

Chaim Raphael, Author HarperCollins Publishers $22.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-06-039048-8
Jewry today is dominated by the Ashkenazim, descendants of Jews from northern Europe. But outstanding contributions to Jewish intellectual and social life have also been made by the Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors lived in Spain and Portugal or in Mediterranean and Eastern lands that became a refuge from persecution. Raphael, a British writer, describes the ascent of the Sephardim in Spain's Golden Age; Jewish settlements in Cairo, Sicily, Baghdad and Persia; the gradual decline of the Sephardim, which paralleled the decline of the Muslim world; and the ""ingathering'' of Sephardic Jews to Israel. His heavily illustrated chronicle is ambitious in scope, but the writing, unfortunately, is flat and bloodless. Raphael effectively shows that Jewish life under Islam was a combination of advancement and humiliation; he reveals how Sephardic traits today reflect lifestyles developed in different national settings. Jewish Book Club alternate. January
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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