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Jewish Life in Medieval Spain: A Religious Minority during the Best and Worst of Times

Presented by Jonathan Ray

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The great cultural legacy of Spanish Jews has long symbolized a “Golden Age” of Judaism and of interfaith relations. Yet, the Jewish experience in medieval Spain was actually quite complex. The intellectual achievements and general prosperity of Spanish Jews was marred by some of the most tragic episodes in Jewish history. Indeed, even in the best of times, not all Jews were equally prosperous or in agreement on the right way to live as a Jew. Philosophers argued with mystics, and poets with Talmudists, and various clans of wealthy Jewish merchants vied for power over their communities. This talk will explore the inner life and contradictions of this fascinating society.

Jonathan Ray is the Samuel Eig Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University. He holds a B.A. from Tufts University in History and Religion, and a Ph.D. in Jewish History from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Professor Ray specializes in medieval and early modern Jewish history, focusing on Sephardic Jews. He is the author of several books and articles on Jewish history and culture. His latest book, Jewish Life in Medieval Spain: A New History (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), illuminates interfaith relations in Spain from the Jewish perspective.

Program made possible, in part, by Richard Krieg in honor of David Medlin.




Sunday, November 19, 2023


Pacific Time
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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Virtual via Zoom