Local author and Gaon Books founder Dr. Ron Duncan Hart will read from his latest work, Sephardic Jews: History, Religion, and People.
About the Book:
Sephardic Jews is an introduction to the world of the Sephardim (Hebrew plural for Sephardic Jews) for the reader learning about that heritage. Although the Sephardim were once the majority of Jews in the United States, in the last 150 years they were replaced by the monumental migration of Eastern European and Russian Jews who brought other traditions. For many in the United States, Sephardic Jews have become a part of memory and even a figment of the imagination, often with little information about the actual history and heritage of the group. Today, in the Southwest of the United States and in parts of Latin America there is a movement to reclaim Sephardic identification among Spanish speakers, some with possible Jews roots dating back to the Expulsion from Spain in 1492. That has sparked interest in learning more about Sefarad, the Spain of the Jews, and the Diaspora of Spanish Jews that sent people to the Ottoman Empire, Morocco, Amsterdam, and the Americas. Myths have grown around the concept of Sefarad sometimes obscuring the realities of what it was. There was a "golden age" for Jews during the early Muslim period, but as the reconquest heated up and Christian rule replaced that of Muslims, the Jewish experience turned dark until the light of the Jews was put out in Spain.
About the Author:
Ron Duncan Hart, Ph.D. is a cultural anthropologist from Indiana University with postdoctoral work on Jews as the Other in Medieval Europe and Spain at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Oxford. In the study of Judaism and culture Hart has done work with David Bidney, Robert Chazan, Jeremy Cohen, and John Messenger among others in the environment of folklore and anthropology at Indiana University and later Jewish studies at the University of Oxford.
Hart has done research on Sephardic traditions in South America, Spain, and North Africa with special attention to the Andalusian exchange between Jews, Christians, and Muslims in southern Spain and Morocco. Hart has written a dozen books on religion, cultural history and social change.
His most recent books are on Sephardic Jews, Judaism and Islam.
Hart is a former University Vice-President, Dean of Academic Affairs, and department chair, having taught anthropology at Georgia State University, the National University of Colombia, the University of the Andes in Bogotá, and InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico. He also has worked in South America with UNICEF, the Ford Foundation and other international agencies. He has awards from the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Fulbright among others.