The History of the Jews of Spain and Portugal

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The history of Jews in Spain and Portugal spans more than a thousand years. By most measures, it is even longer than the large-scale settlement of Jews in the land of Israel which was interrupted several times in Jewish history. Legends ascribe the arrival of the earliest settlers to the days of the biblical prophet Obadiah, but archeologically speaking, the first record of Jews is much later.

For Jews, life in the Iberian Peninsula was never quite as idyllic as is often portrayed. Jews residing there had experienced early Christian anti-Judaism in the fourth century and had undergone persecution, forced conversions, and expulsions under the Christianized Visigoths in the sixth and seventh centuries. The Islamic conquest of Spain in the eighth century improved Jewish life and created a period of stability and growth. Jewish life under Islamic rule, however, was not devoid of its trials and misfortunes as experienced under the Almovarids in the eleventh century and the Almohades in the twelfth century. Islamic fortunes eventually declined in the Iberian Peninsula. In the transition between Islamic and Christian rule, Jews flourished as an essential minority for the emerging Christian kingdoms now dominating the Peninsula...and this just scratches the surface. Discover the History of the Jews of Spain and Portugal through a series of lectures given to a live audience by an expert on the topic.

Your Instructor

​Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez
​Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez

Rabbi Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas where he earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering. He studied at the Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland and received a Master of Arts Degree in Judaic Studies. He completed his doctoral studies at the Spertus Institute in Chicago in 2015. He studied at the American Seminary for Contemporary Judaism and received rabbinic ordination in 2011 from Yeshiva Mesilat Yesharim.

Rabbi Bejarano Gutierrez was a board member of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies from 2011-2013. He has published various articles in HaLapid, The Journal for Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto-Jews, and Apuntes-Theological Reflections from a Hispanic-Latino Context, y es el autor de What is Kosher?and What is Jewish Prayer?,Who is a Jew?, Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism, Against the Greeks, He is currently the director of the B’nai Anusim Center for Education at

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