The Role of Genealogy in the Formation and Preservation of Sephardic Identity
Among the defining characteristics distinguishing Sephardic Jews is their claim of aristocratic lineage. The claim that Sephardic Jews are descended from the aristocracy of ancient Jerusalem and the House of King David emerged in medieval times. Possession of royal lineage has been a persistent and compelling image that the Jews of Spain have presented to the outside world. How the claim arose, the functions it served and the enduring effects of the claim will be the subjects of this analysis.
This paper will examine several historical context in which Sephardic claims to aristocratic lineage were formulated and invoked. Such an examination will take into account some of the diverse social, psychological, and strategic roles that geneology played in the definition of the Sephardic Jew and his history. The paper will also illustrate, through an examination of these critical historic junctures, the ways in which geneology was invoked. It will suggest the ways in which the concern of the Sephardim with their aristocratic origins shaped their self perceptions, their inter-group relations and their survival as a vibrant and distinctive part of the Jewish people.
||Ella Fitzgerald A|