Sephardi Iberian Heritage

Jews lived on the Iberian peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal) from Roman times. But with each successive change of leadership – from Visigoths to Catholics to Muslim Moors and back to Catholics – came instability and worse: murders, massacres and, finally, expulsion.

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by Abraham Ben Ezra

Abraham Ben Ezra (also known as Abraham Ibn Ezra, Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra, Abenezra or simply Ibn Ezra), c.1089-c.1167, was one of the most distinguished Jewish Biblical commentators and philosophers of the Middle Ages. He was born in Tudela in northern Spain. In his poem I Have a Garment, Ibn Ezra creates what could be seen as an emblem of his life and work, by contrasting the value of a spiritual life with his own lack of material wealth. Ibn Ezra was a renowned polymath, writing more than 100 books on subjects such as mathematics, astronomy and philosophy. He was one of the best known and most admired Jewish figures in the West, acclaimed for his pioneering efforts in introducing the ‘mathematics of the Arabs’ to the Europeans. He also endeavoured to bring the culture of the Spanish Jews to those living in Italy, France and England, and he is said to be largely responsible for the schools of poetry that later began to flourish in Italy and Provence.