This introductory chapter explores the experience of the Sephardim, one of the two major branches of the Jewish people, in several major centres of urban civilization. It seeks to understand who they are and how their visit in certain cities left its impression upon them and distinguished them from other parts of the Jewish people. The chapter also recognizes that being 'Sephardi' means to be related in some fashion to Spain. Yet most bearers of that designation today never had any contact with Spain, nor did many of their ancestors. It examines seven cities through which to explore the shaping of Sephardi identity. The chapter also includes the descendants of Jews who lived in the Iberian peninsula before the expulsion from Spain in 1492 and of Jews who received the refugees from Iberia afterwards.
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