Thursday, June 21, 2007

Book Review: Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality

Foundations of Sephardic Spirituality: The Inner Life of Jews of the Ottoman Empire
By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

I began reading this book thinking that I was going to read only a few chapters. Yet, I found that I could not put the book down. Rabbi Angel does a wonderful job at describing the environment of Turkish, Spanish, and Roman Jewish interaction and the effects on their spiritual life. This work goes into many of the cultural nuances that place because of internal and external situations such as the inquisition in Spain and Portugal, the Shabbatai Svi movement, and the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

I really enjoyed how the book explained both the good and bad that resulted from the increase in Qabbalistic thought. He also covers the traditions, poetry, and music that came out of the Ladino culture. All and all, this is one of the best and most straight forward books that deals with the need for Sephardim to preserve the culture.

I think this book should required reading in all Yeshivot and Jewish schools.‎

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