It is an ongoing, interdisciplinary project which draws upon the expertise of leading scholars and covers all aspects of the Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish experience.
Even better, the new journal is free, fully online, and easily accessible to everyone via the journal website. Four issues are now online.
The publication is part of FIU’s President Navon Program for the Study of Sephardic & Mizrahi Jewry. Dr. Zion Zohar is editor, and Abraham Lavender (well-known to Sephardic Jewish genealogists and the Society of Crypto-Judaic Studies) is the book review editor. The editoral board includes Jane S. Gerber, Norman Stillman, and other experts.
Perusing the four online issues, there seem to be many Kabbalah-focused articles (many aspects), which is not one of Tracing the Tribe’s favorite subjects although other readers are fascinated by this topic.
Tracing the Tribe found the following articles interesting.
Abraham D. Lavender: Book review: Jonathan Ray. The Sephardic Frontier: The Reconquista and the Jewish Community in Medieval Iberia. The book’s seven chapters are 1-The Migration of Jewish Settlers to the Frontier, 2-Jewish Landownership, 3-Money-lending and Beyond: The Jews in the Economic Life of the Frontier, 4-Royal Authority and the Legal Status of Iberian Jewry, 5-Jewish Communal Organization and Authority, 6-Communal Tensions and the Question of Jewish Autonomy, and 7-Maintenance of Social Boundaries on the Iberian Frontier.
Here’s only a small portion of Lavender’s four-page review:
The Sephardic Frontier uses a large amount of unpublished material in royal, ecclesiastical, and municipal archives, as well as rabbinic literature, to suggest a new view of this time period. Ray, studying Jewish and non-Jewish life in the frontier of al-Andalus following the expulsion of the Muslims, argues that the significant depletion of population caused by the expulsion of most Muslims from al-Andalus, and the subsequent successful efforts to repopulate this area with Christians as well as with Jews from other sections of Iberia and areas outside Iberia, resulted in Jewish life that was different from that in other parts of Iberia. This challenges the traditional historical view which has taught that already developed Jewish communities, mostly from other areas of Iberia, were reestablished in al-Andalus …
Samantha Baskind: Picturing Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Amsterdam. This is a very interesting 13-page article focusing on how Jews were depicted in contemporary art of the time. Here’s a small portion (I highly recommend reading the entire article for interesting insights into how our ancestors lived):
By showing the Ashkenazim bound to ritual, artists offered a particular vision that fulfilled the imaginings of the Gentile population. In contrast, by picturing the less “serious” (and by extension seemingly less “religious”) Sephardic Jew in fashionable attire and with trimmed facial hair, artists presented the Sephardim as understandable within a Dutch context, thereby defying the “physiological and psychological unknown” to borrow Barbara Stafford’s apt phrase. The manner by which the Sephardim were pictured in prints during this period gave assurance to viewers fearful of the Other, of the foreign Jew who, in fact, was not so foreign. Moreover, as an observed subject, the Ashkenazi Jew became an understood subject, and even more significantly, the Sephardic-Ashkenazi disparity demonstrated that “the Jew” was clearly able to reform (i.e., become Dutch, to a degree), as the Portuguese Jews had already done.
Each issue also features a list of books received and available for review – I wish I had them all. Here are a few:
Aviva Ben-Ur. Sephardic Jews in America: A Diasporic History, (New York: New York University Press, 2009) 321 pages.
Joseph B. Glass and Ruth Kark. Sephardi Entrepreneurs in Jerusalem: The Valero Family 1800-1948, (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2007) 440 pages.
Emily Gottreich. The Mellah of Marrakesh: Jewish and Muslim Space in Morocco’s Red City, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007) 211 pages.
Antonio Munoz Molina and T.A. Perry. Traces of Sepharad/Huellas de Sefarad, Etchings of Judeo-Spanish Proverbs, (New York: Gravity Free Press, 2008) 143 pages.
Zion Zohar. (Editor), Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry – from the Golden Age of Spain to Modern Times, (New York: New York University Press, 2005) 352 pages.
Academics in Sephardic and Mizrahi studies are invited to submit articles and contribute to the new journal. Among the benefits is the short time span between submission and publishing compared to other journals. If you are interested in contributing to this online publication, see submission guidelines and instruction sheet here. The Call for Papers is here.
Read the complete articles at the links above.