Were the Sephardim Hidalgos?
History Disputes Their Claim to Aristocracy
“You must be a Sephardi,” a silly woman once said to my wife. “It’s so much more chic.”
As a matter of fact, I far prefer the Sephardi ritual, and have attended Sephardi synagogues and services on four continents. (I haven’t done so on the fifth partly because I’ve never been there, partly because no Sephardi synagogue exists on it.) I venture even to think that, with my work on the Marranos, on certain Italian communities, and on the Duke of Naxos, I have made rather more ample contributions to Sephardi history than the average historical scribbler. But every now and again I find my enthusiasm damped by the claims made (frequently by Ashkenazi “converts”) on behalf of the Sephardim as the “aristocracy” of the Jewish people. The Rabbis said, I think, that all Jews are sons of princes. Anyway, they are all equally so, and these pretentious assertions appear to me objectionable. Further, they are historically unjustified.
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