Sephardim or sephardic jews is the term used for the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. Now this term is used commonly for the Jewish exiles and their descendants who settled all around the globe. The descendants of the exiled Sephardics are now living in the countries along the Mediterranean Sea, Syria, the Balkans, Palestine, North Africa, Brazil, New Amsterdam, Holland, and Mexico.
The language spoken by Sephardic Jews is Ladino, a language created from the mixture of Hebrew and Spanish language. Anti Jewish riots in 1391 started in many cities of Spain and the condition of Jews went from bad to worse during that time. Newly transformed Christians were brutally tortured and maimed in the Spanish Inquisition.
It was thought that if the Jews remained in Spain, they could be influenced to convert into Christianity. After Granada got arrested, Father Torquemada persuaded the reigning king Ferdinand that the Jews in the Spain were expendable. In 1492, the Jewish community was ordered to convert their religion to Christianity.
The ones who refused were expelled from the Spain. Within four months the Jews were ordered to sell their property and leave the country. The day they got expelled is still remembered by Jews as Tisha B’Av holiday. Portugal allowed the settlement of Jews but later in 1497, they were expelled again. The daughter of Spain’s monarchs and King of Portugal married with the condition that the Jewish community would be expelled.
The ones who converted to Christianity were allowed to stay in Portugal. A large community of expelled Jews settled in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa. The Jews that moved to Holland from Portugal were allowed to practice Judaism. They were commonly referred as Marrano diaspora. Marranos settled in Western Europe and America. Today the descendents of that diaspora live in Colorado and New Mexico.
Ari Afilalo is a member of Sephardic Synagogue in the west New York. He is also a part of the French Moroccan Community.