Spanish and Portuguese Jews are a distinctive sub-group of Sephardi Jews, mostly descended from families forcibly converted to Catholicism in Spain and Portugal which later left for other countries where they could revert to Judaism. The main Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities are in Western Europe, Italy and the Americas.

Spanish and Portuguese Jews have a distinctive ritual based on that of pre-expulsion Spain, but also influenced by the Spanish-Moroccan rite and the Italian Jewish rite.

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  • 1. [Sephardic law and customs] Sephardic law and customs means the practice of Judaism as observed by the Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, so far as it is peculiar to themselves and not shared with other Jewish groups such as the Ashkenazim. Sephardim do not constitute a separate denomination within Judaism, but rather a distinct cultural, juridical and philosophical tradition.
  • 2. [Italian Jews] Italian Jews can be used in a broad sense to mean all Jews living or with roots in Italy or in a narrower sense to mean the ancient community who use the Italian rite, as distinct from the communities dating from medieval or modern times who use the Sephardi or Ashkenazi rite.
  • 3. [Portuguese Synagogue (Amsterdam)] The Portuguese Synagogue, also known as the Esnoga (Ladino: אסנוגה), or Snoge, is a 17th-century Sephardic synagogue in Amsterdam. Esnoga is the Ladino word for synagogue. The Amsterdam Sephardic community was one of the largest and richest in Europe during the Dutch Golden Age, and their very large synagogue reflected this. The description in a
  • 4. [Marrano] Marranos (Spanish: [maˈranos]; Portuguese: [mɐˈʁɐnuʃ], [mɐˈʁɐnus], sing. marrano; Catalan: marrans [məˈrans], [maˈrans], sing. marrà) were originally Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula who converted or were forced to convert to Christianity, some of whom may have continued to practice Judaism in secret. The term came into later use in 1492 with the Castilian Alhambra Decree, reversing protections originally in the Treaty of Granada (1491).
  • 5. [Congregation Shearith Israel] Congregation Shearith Israel, often called The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, is the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. It was established in 1654.
  • 6. [David Nieto] David Nieto (1654 – 10 January 1728) was the Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community in London, later succeeded in this capacity by his son, Isaac Nieto.
  • 7. [Siddur] A siddur (Hebrew: סדור‎ [siˈduʁ]; plural סדורים, siddurim [siduˈʁim]) is a Jewish prayer book, containing a set order of daily prayers. (The word "siddur" comes from a Hebrew root meaning "order".) This article discusses how some of these prayers evolved, and how the siddur, as it is known today has developed. A separate article, Jewish prayer, discusses the prayers that appear in the siddur, and when they are said.
  • 8. [Minhag] Minhag (Hebrew: מנהג‎ "custom", pl. minhagim) is an accepted tradition or group of traditions in Judaism. A related concept, Nusach (נוסח), refers to the traditional order and form of the prayers.
  • 9. [Menasseh Ben Israel] Manoel Dias Soeiro (1604 – November 20, 1657), better known by his Hebrew name Menasseh ben Israel (מנשה בן ישראל), also, Menasheh ben Yossef ben Yisrael, also known with the Hebrew acronym, MB"Y, was a Portuguese rabbi, kabbalist, writer, diplomat, printer and publisher, founder of the first Hebrew printing press (named Emeth Meerets Titsma`h) in Amsterdam in 1626.
  • 10. [Portuguese Inquisition] The Portuguese Inquisition (Portuguese: Inquisição Portuguesa) was formally established in Portugal in 1536 at the request of the King of Portugal, João III. Manuel I had asked for the installation of the Inquisition in 1515 to fulfill the commitment of marriage with Maria of Aragon, but it was only after his death that Pope Paul
  • 11. [Bevis Marks Synagogue] Bevis Marks Synagogue (Hebrew: בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת בוויס-מַרקס, AKA Kahal Sahar Asamaim or Sha'ar ha-Shamayim) is the oldest synagogue in the United Kingdom. It is located off Bevis Marks, in the City of London.
  • 12. [Judaeo-Spanish] Judæo-Spanish (also Judeo-Spanish; Judaeo-Spanish: Judeo-Espanyol, Hebrew script: גֿודֿיאו-איספאנייול, Cyrillic: Ђудео-Еспањол), commonly referred to as Ladino, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish. Originally spoken in the former territories of the Ottoman Empire (the Balkans, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa) as well as in France, Italy, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Morocco, and the
  • 13. [History of the Jews in Spain] Spanish Jews once constituted one of the largest and most prosperous Jewish communities under Muslim and Christian rule, before they, together with resident Muslims, were forced to convert to Catholicism, be expelled, or be killed when Spain became united under the Catholic Monarchs King Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.
  • 14. [Alhambra Decree] The Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion) was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.
  • 15. [Syrian Jews] Syrian Jews (Hebrew: יהודי סוריה‎, Arabic: اليهود السوريون‎) are Jews who lived in the region of the modern state of Syria, and their descendants born outside Syria. Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: from the Jews who inhabited the region of today's Syria from ancient times (known as Musta'arabi Jews, and sometimes classified
  • 16. [Crypto-Judaism] Crypto-Judaism is the secret adherence to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith; practitioners are referred to as "crypto-Jews" (origin from Greek kryptos - κρυπτός, 'hidden'). The term crypto-Jew is also used to describe descendants who maintain some Jewish traditions of their ancestors while publicly adhering to other faiths. The term is especially
  • 17. [Mizrahi Jews] Mizrahi Jews or Mizrahim (Hebrew: מזרחים‎), also referred to as Adot HaMizrach (עֲדוֹת-הַמִּזְרָח; Communities of the East; Mizrahi Hebrew: ʿAdot(h) Ha(m)Mizraḥ), are Jews descended from local Jewish communities of the Middle East (as opposed to those from Europe, Africa and other places). The term Mizrahi is most commonly used in Israel to refer to Jews
  • 18. [Isaac Nieto] Isaac Nieto (1702–1774) (Hebrew: יצחק ניטו) was Haham of the Portuguese congregation Sha'are Hashamayim, Bevis Marks, London, and the son of David Nieto. He was officially appointed as "ḥakham ha-shalem" in 1733, but gave up the post in 1741 and went abroad. He returned in 1747 and took up the profession of notary.
  • 19. [Romaniote Jews] The Romaniote Jews or Romaniots (Greek: Ρωμανιῶτες, Rōmaniōtes) are a Jewish community who had developed distinctive cultural features and who have lived in the territory of today's Greece and neighboring areas for more than 2,000 years. Their languages were Yevanic, a Greek dialect, and modern Greek. They derived their name from the old name for
  • 20. [Raphael Meldola (Sephardic Rabbi)] Raphael Meldola (1754 – 1 June 1828) was an English Rabbi. Born in Livorno, he died in London .
    He was one of the most prominent members of the Meldola family. He received a thorough university training, both in theological and in secular branches, and displayed such remarkable talents that when only fifteen years old he was permitted to take his seat in the rabbinical college. He was preacher in Leghorn for some years, and in 1803 he obtained the title of rabbi.
  • 21. [History of the Jews in Belmonte] The history of the Jews in Belmonte, Portugal, reaches back over six hundred years.
  • 22. [Isaac Abrabanel] Isaac ben Judah Abrabanel (1437–1508) אברבנאל, יצחק בן יהודה , commonly referred to just as Abrabanel, was a Portuguese Jewish statesman, philosopher, Bible commentator, and financier.
  • 23. [History of the Jews in Portugal] The history of the Jews in Portugal reaches back over two thousand years and is directly related to Sephardi history, a Jewish ethnic division that represents communities who have originated in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain).
  • 24. [Nusach] Nusach (Hebrew: נוסח‎ nosaħ, modern pronunciation nósakh or núsakh), plural nuschaot or nusachim, is a concept in Judaism that has two distinct meanings. One is the style of a prayer service (Nusach Teiman, Nusach Ashkenaz, Nusach Sefard or Nusach Ari); another is the melody of the service depending on when the service is being conducted.
  • 25. [Joseph Salvador] Joseph Salvador (1716–1786) was a British-Jewish businessman of London, perhaps most notable for being the first and only Jew to serve as a director of the British East India Company. He was descended from Portuguese Sephardic Jews who had escaped persecution during the Portuguese Inquisition and migrated to the Netherlands. From there they immigrated to London, England in the eighteenth century.
  • 26. [David de Sola Pool] David de Sola Pool (1885–1970) (Hebrew: דוד די סולה פול) was a leading American rabbi, scholar, author and civic leader.
  • 27. [History of the Jews in Livorno] The history of the Jews in Livorno (Liorne or Liorna in Ladino), Italy has been documented as far back as 1583, as immigrants from the expulsions from Spain and Portugal settled in the city. The Jewish community of Livorno, although the youngest among the historic Jewish communities of Italy, was for some time the foremost because its members achieved political rights and wealth, and contributed to scholarship in the successful port city.
  • 28. [Alan Mocatta] Sir Alan Abraham Mocatta (27 June 1907 – 1 November 1990) was an English judge, an expert on restrictive practices and a leader of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Britain.
  • 29. [Curaçao synagogue] The Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue (Hebrew: בית הכנסת מקווה ישראל-עמנואל‎; English: The Hope of Israel-Emanuel Synagogue), in Willemstad, Curaçao, is one of the oldest synagogues in the Americas. It is commonly known as the Snoa (short for esnoga, an old Portuguese and Ladino word for synagogue) and is a major tourist attraction in Curaçao, with one notable group of visitors including Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and her family, in 1992.
  • 30. [Moses Gaster] Moses Gaster (17 September 1856 – 5 March 1939) was a Romanian-born Jewish-British scholar, the Hakham of the Spanish and Portuguese congregation, London, and a Hebrew linguist. He was the father of Jack and Theodor Gaster and the grandfather of Marghanita Laski. He was also son-in-law to Michael Friedländer and father-in-law to Neville Laski.
  • 31. [Converso] A converso (Spanish: [komˈberso]; Portuguese: [kõˈvɛɾsu]; Catalan: convers [kumˈbɛrs], [komˈvɛɾs]; "a convert", from Latin conversvs, "converted, turned around") and its feminine form conversa was a Jew or Muslim who converted to Catholicism in Spain or Portugal, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries, or one of their descendents. Mass conversions once took place under significant
  • 32. [Sephardic Jews in the Netherlands] As a result of the Inquisition, many Sephardim (Spanish and Portuguese Jews) left the Iberian peninsula at the end of the 15th century and throughout the 16th century, in search for religious freedom. Some of them found their way to the newly independent Dutch provinces: independent from the reign of Spain, Sephardic Jews from the
  • 33. [Amidah] The Amidah (Hebrew: תפילת העמידה, Tefilat HaAmidah "The Standing Prayer"), also called the Shmoneh Esreh (שמנה עשרה, Shmoneh Esreh "The Eighteen," in reference to the original number of constituent blessings, there are now nineteen), is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. This prayer, among others, is found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book. As Judaism's central prayer, the Amidah is often designated simply as tefila (תפילה, "prayer") in Rabbinic literature.
  • 34. [Nusach Ashkenaz] Nusach Ashkenaz is a style of Jewish religious service conducted by Ashkenazi Jews, originating from Central and Western Europe.
    It is primarily a way to order and include prayers, and differs from Nusach Sefard (as used by the Hasidim), and still more from the Sephardic rite proper, in the placement and presence of certain prayers.
  • 35. [Sephardi Jews] Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews or simply Sephardim (Hebrew: סְפָרַדִּי, Modern Sfaraddi Tiberian Səp̄āraddî), are a Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews traces back to immigrants originating in the Israelite tribes of the Middle East who coalesced in the Iberian Peninsula around the turn of the
  • 36. [Bendigamos] Bendigamos is a hymn sung after meals according to the custom of Spanish and Portuguese Jews. It has also been traditionally sung by the Jews of Turkish descent. It is similar in meaning to the Birkat Hamazon that is said by all Jews. Bendigamos is said in addition to Birkat Hamazon, either immediately before or
  • 37. [Artur Carlos de Barros Basto] Artur Carlos de Barros Basto (Hebrew name: Abraham Israel Ben-Rosh) was born December 18, 1887 in Amarante and died in Porto, on March 8, 1961. He made a career in the military, but also as a writer, who published several works related to Judaism. He was an important Jewish leader and one of the people
  • 38. [Abraham Lopes Cardozo] Abraham Lopes Cardozo (1914–2006) was hazzan of Congregation Shearith Israel, the historic Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in New York City.
  • 39. [David de Aaron de Sola] David de Aaron de Sola or David Aaron de Sola (1796 – 1860) (Hebrew: דוד אהרן די סולה) was a rabbi and author, born in Amsterdam, the son of Aaron de Sola. When but eleven years of age he entered as a student the bet ha-midrash of his native city, and after a course of
  • 40. [Shem Tob Gaguine] Shemtob Gaguin(e) (b. Jerusalem 5 September 1884, d. Manchester 30 July 1953) was a British Sephardic Rabbi and scion of a famous Moroccan Rabbinical dynasty which emigrated to Palestine from Spain at the time of the Inquisition.
  • 41. [History of the Jews in Iraq] The Jews in Iraq (Hebrew: יְהוּדִים בָּבְלִים, Babylonian Jews, Yehudim Bavlim, Arabic: يهود العراق‎ Yahūd al-ʿIrāq) is documented from the time of the Babylonian captivity c. 586 BC. Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities.
  • 42. [Spanish Synagogue (Venice)] The Spanish Synagogue is one of the two functioning synagogues in the Venetian Ghetto of Venice, northern Italy. It is open for services from Passover until the end of the High Holiday season.
  • 43. [Abraham de Sola] Alexander Abraham de Sola (September 18, 1825 – June 5, 1882) was a Canadian Rabbi, author, Orientalist, and scientist. Originating from a large renown family of Rabbis and scholars, De Sola was recognized there as one of the most powerful leaders of Orthodox Judaism in the United States during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
  • 44. [Francis Salvador] Francis Salvador (1747 – August 1, 1776) was a young English planter in the colony of South Carolina from the Sephardic Jewish community of London; in 1774 he was the first Jew to be elected to public office in the colonies when chosen for the Provincial Congress. He had joined the independence cause and in 1776 was the first Jew killed in the war, fighting with the militia on the South Carolina frontier against Loyalists and their Cherokee allies.
  • 45. [Isaac da Costa] Isaac da Costa (January 14, 1798 – April 28, 1860) was a Jewish poet.
    Da Costa was born in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. His father, an aristocratic Sephardic Portuguese Jew, Daniel da Costa, a relative of Uriel Acosta, was a prominent merchant in the city of Amsterdam; his mother, Rebecca Ricardo, was a near relative of
  • 46. [Shavuot] Shavuot  (or  Shovuos , in Ashkenazi usage; Shavuʿoth in Sephardi and Mizrahi Hebrew (Hebrew: שבועות‎, lit. "Weeks"), known as the Feast of Weeks in English and as Πεντηκοστή (Pentecost) in Ancient Greek, is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June).
  • 47. [Abraham Pereira Mendes] Abraham Pereira Mendes (February 9, 1825, Kingston, Jamaica – April 18, 1893, New York) was an English rabbi and educator.
    He was the first master of the Beth Limud School of Kingston, but resigned in order to prepare in London, England for the vocation of preacher and rabbi. He studied under Dr. Meldola, the dayyan, and
  • 48. [Tisha B'Av] Tisha B'Av  (lit. "the ninth of Av") (Hebrew: תשעה באב‎ or ט׳ באב), is an annual fast day in Judaism which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of the Jews from the Land of Israel. The day also commemorates other tragedies which occurred on the same
  • 49. [Marc D. Angel] Marc D. Angel (born July 1945) is Rabbi emeritus of Congregation Shearith Israel, the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York City. Born in Seattle's Sephardic community, his ancestors are Sephardim from Turkey and Rhodes and he grew up in a Ladino-speaking home.
  • 50. [Cantillation] Cantillation is the ritual chanting of readings from the Hebrew Bible in synagogue services. The chants are written and notated in accordance with the special signs or marks printed in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh) to complement the letters and vowel points. These marks are known in English as accents and
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