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Finalist—National Jewish Book Award, Sephardic Culture!

Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality

The Inner Life of Jews of the Ottoman Empire

Rabbi Marc D. Angel, PhD

6 x 9, 224 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-341-5

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Finalist—National Jewish Book Award, Sephardic Culture!


Who were the Sephardic Jews of the Ottoman Empire?
What lasting lessons does their spiritual life provide for future generations?
 “How did the Judeo-Spanish-speaking Jews of the Ottoman Empire manage to achieve spiritual triumph? To answer this question, we need to have a firm understanding of their historical experience…. We need to be aware of the dark, unpleasant elements in their environments; but we also need to see the spiritual, cultural light in their dwellings that imbued their lives with meaning and honor.”
—from Chapter 1, “The Inner Life of the Sephardim”
In this groundbreaking work, Rabbi Marc Angel explores the teachings, values, attitudes, and cultural patterns that characterized Judeo-Spanish life over the generations and how the Sephardim maintained a strong sense of pride and dignity, even when they lived in difficult political, economic, and social conditions. Along with presenting the historical framework and folklore of Jewish life in the Ottoman Empire, Rabbi Angel focuses on what you can learn from the Sephardic sages and from their folk wisdom that can help you live a stronger, deeper spiritual life.
“Intelligent ... highly readable.... A salutary and accessible effort that freshens the field of Sephardic studies for a general audience.”
Jewish Book World
“Accessible.... An enjoyable and illuminating work.”
Na’amat Woman
“More than a scholarly treatise.... Readable narratives with scholarly citations as well as superstitions, rituals, Ladino folklore, songs and sayings. This valuable historic journey demonstrates the ‘triumph of the human spirit,’ resolute in its optimism and dignity.”
Publishers Weekly
“Wonderful … so much more than its title implies. A must read for every serious student of Jewish history and culture.”
Dr. Norman Cohen, provost, Hebrew Union College, and author of Hineini in Our Lives: Learning How to Respond to Others through 14 Biblical Texts & Personal Stories
“Poignant and masterful, concise and provocative … depicts the rich inner life of the masses of Jews in the Ottoman Empire who, despite hardship, lived a quintessential Judaism with an enviable naturalness.”
Jane Mushabac, professor of English, City University of New York, and
author of
Mazal Bueno: A Portrait in Song of the Spanish Jews
“The wisdom of the Sephardic tradition, its breadth and spirit and song, beautifully distilled for the general reader. A whole world of Jewish spirituality comes alive in this book.”
Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, and author of Floating Takes Faith: Ancient Wisdom in a Modern World
“An excellent guide by one of the foremost interpreters of Sephardic civilization. For scholars as well as anyone seriously interested in Sephardic culture, history, and society.”
Avigdor Levy, professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University
“Captures the essence of the Sephardic Ottoman world with sensitivity, nuance and love. Exudes warmth and pride as well as much valuable information. No cultural expression of the Sephardic Jew is ignored in this enduring work of great charm and learning.”
Professor Jane S. Gerber, director, Center for Jewish Studies and the Institute for Sephardic Studies, Graduate Center of the City University of New York
“A loving, critical, and wistful look at the inner life of the Sephardim. Will be cherished by Sephardim and Ashkenazim alike. Indeed, Ashkenazim will note the intriguing parallels to their own history.”
Dr. Norman Lamm, chancellor, Yeshiva University
“A great read and important book illuminating the post inquisition destiny and rich spiritual development of the Judeo-Spanish Sephardic community in the Ottoman Empire—an essential and often neglected integral part of the overall Jewish experience.”
David E. R. Dangoor, president, American Sephardi Federation


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