The National Library of Israel (NLI), today announced the online availability of its Sephardic Heritage and Spanish-language resources. In time for the Passover holiday, these resources include a large selection of Haggadot in the Sephardic tradition, available for download.
531 years ago, on March 31, 1492, the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella signed the Edict of Expulsion ordering the Jews to leave Spain, where the Jewish community had thrived for some 800 years.
After the Expulsion, Jews of Spanish origin established communities wherever safe haven was to be found, in Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and the Land of Israel. These Jews continued to speak Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), and maintained their outstandingly rich customs and deeply rooted traditions
To mark this watershed in history for Jews worldwide, NLI invites readers to visit a newly launched webpage dedicated to The Jewish Expulsion from Spain. The site presents a rich offering from NLI’s collection of pre- and post-expulsion Sephardic manuscripts, early printed books, Ladino materials, poetry and prayer, and other oral documentation.
Passover Haggadot in this collection include:
- 14th century Haggadah from Catalonia, Spain
- 15th century Haggadah from Guadalajara, Spain
- 17th century Haggadah in Ladino and Hebrew, from Venice, Italy
- 20th century Haggadah from Fez, Morocco
Sephardic Heritage and Ladino Webpage Launched
Over the years, NLI has collected numerous historical materials on the Jewish expulsion from Spain. The items in the collection shed light on the circumstances of the expulsion, lives of the Anusim (forced converts or crypto-Jews), and the challenges faced by Sephardic Jews while assimilating into various communities around the globe. The Library’s collection comprises books and manuscripts, religious and secular literature, prayer books, articles, and studies, recordings in Ladino, and historic Jewish press in Ladino and other languages, from communities across Latin America.
Now, new Archives of Sephardic Heritage have been added to NLI’s collection of personal archives, including the writings and personal estates of rabbis and community leaders, archives of institutions and Mizrahi-Jewish communities whose members are descendants of the expelled Jews, archives of scholars of Sephardic Jewry, and more. Among the newest archives, cataloged and scanned thanks to the generous support of the Samis Foundation of Seattle, Washington, are those of historian Moshe David Gaon (father of singer Yehoram Gaon), journalist Robert Attal, Yechiel Habshush, who helped to bring the Yemenite community to Israel, and parts of the personal archive of Abraham Shalom Yahuda, who established NLI’s collection of Arabic and Islamic works.
New Spanish-language Content and Press
After the expulsion, many Sephardic Jews eventually made their way to the New World, including present-day Latin America, where they settled and established Jewish communities. Ashkenazi Jews from Central and Eastern Europe immigrated to Latin America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, seeking economic opportunities and religious freedom.
Today, there are vibrant Jewish communities in many Latin American countries, that have preserved their unique Sephardic and Ashkenazi traditions. As part of its international outreach efforts, the Library is adding Spanish language content to its website, and has appointed a liaison to the Latin American Jewish community.
Through a recent collaboration with Comunidad Judía de Chile (Jewish Community of Chile), and the Archivo Judío de Chile (Jewish Archive of Chile), new titles of historic press from the Jewish community of Chile have been added to the Historic Jewish Press (Jpress) collection, a joint project of NLI and Tel Aviv University. These include La Palabra Israelita, El Vocero de Comunidad Sefaradí de Chile, Revista Shalom, and ZEJEL. These new titles join other historic press from Latin America and historic Sephardic press titles in Ladino. As with all Jpress titles, these archives are openly accessible and fully searchable from anywhere in the world.
- Images of Haggadot in the Sephardic tradition and captions may be downloaded here.
- The new Jewish Expulsion from Spain webpage is located here.
- Additional Haggadot and other Passover treasures from the National Library of Israel are available here.
- The Historic Jewish Press Collection is located here.
- A new Library story about the Habshush family is available for reprint here:
The Family Trading Company That Became a Relief Network for the Jews of Yemen
Please credit as follows:
This article originally appeared on The Librarians, the official online publication of the National Library of Israel dedicated to Jewish, Israeli, and Middle Eastern history, heritage, and culture.
About the National Library of Israel
Founded in Jerusalem in 1892, the National Library of Israel (NLI) serves as the dynamic institution of national memory for the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths. NLI collection highlights include significant handwritten works by luminaries such as Maimonides and Sir Isaac Newton, exquisite Islamic manuscripts dating back to the ninth century and the personal archives of leading cultural and intellectual figures including Martin Buber, Natan Sharansky and Naomi Shemer. NLI also holds the world’s largest collections of textual Judaica, Jewish and Israeli music, and maps of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, as well as world-class collections of manuscripts, ancient maps, rare books, photographs, communal and personal archival materials, and more. While continuing to serve as Israel’s pre-eminent research library, NLI is now in the midst of an ambitious journey of renewal to encourage diverse audiences in Israel and around the globe to engage with its treasures in new and meaningful ways. This is taking place through a range of innovative educational, cultural and digital initiatives, as well as through a new landmark building and campus, scheduled to open its doors in fall 2023, that will reflect NLI’s central values of democratizing knowledge and opening its collections and resources to as broad and diverse an audience as possible. For more information: www.nli.org.il/en