From Golden to Grim: Jewish Life in Muslim Spain
The complex political situation in Muslim Spain impacted Jewish social and cultural life there.
Once again, Muslim rulers began enforcing the old sumptuary laws [regulating Jewish dress and life style] and this time with a new rigor. Jews were obliged to wear badges or distinctively colored turbans. Jewish courtiers, physicians, and communal officials faced new vocational restrictions. Jewish families were exposed to new refinements of social isolation. Jewish merchants were held responsible for bad harvests or food shortages, and often endured a gauntlet of insults and petty humiliations in street and marketplace. By the latter 1100s, any lingering hope for Jewish revival in once‑genial Andalusia seemed all but foreclosed. The departure of Jews northward, once tentative and temporary, now gained momentum, swelling irretrievably from a rivulet to a stream.
This article is reprinted, with permission, from Farewell Espana: The World of the Sephardim Remembered, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
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