Spanish and Portuguese Jews
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Spanish and Portuguese Jews are a distinctive sub-group of Sephardi Jews, mostly descended from families forcibly converted to Catholicism in Spain and Portugal which later left for other countries where they could revert to Judaism. The main Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities are in Western Europe, Italy and the Americas.
Spanish and Portuguese Jews have a distinctive ritual based on that of pre-expulsion Spain, but also influenced by the Spanish-Moroccan rite and the Italian Jewish rite.
Relation to other Jewish communities 
"Sephardim" properly refers to Jews whose families have extended histories in Spain and Portugal, to the exclusion of other non-Ashkenazi Jews (particularly Mizrahi Jews who have extended histories in the Greater Middle East and North Africa) who are nonetheless ordinarily called "Sephardim" in colloquial parlance due to similar styles of liturgy and a certain amount of intermarriage between them and Sephardim proper.
The main factor distinguishing between "Spanish and Portuguese Jews" from other Sephardim proper (who also have extended histories in Spain and Portugal) rests in the fact that "Spanish and Portuguese Jews" refers specifically to those Jews whose history as practising Jews (and particularly as members within the Jewish communities of the Iberian peninsula) is intermittently interrupted by the experience of a period as anusim (forced converts to Catholicism), in many cases, for three or more generations. During this period, these conversos, New Christians or Marranos, as they were variously called, often practised their Jewish faith in secrecy as best they could. For those that did not become a part of this community, theirs was a gradual assimilation into the general Spanish population. It was an historic episode, and it shaped this sub-group of Sephardim who managed to escaped that assimilation. These left Spain and Portugal nominally as Christians, establishing themselves in Western Europe and the Americas from the late 16th century onwards, at which time they reverted to Judaism under the more tolerant conditions.
"Spanish and Portuguese Jews", in this respect, are clearly distinguishable from other Sephardim proper who descend from the Jews who left Iberia in the condition of Jews before the expiration date for the Alhambra Decree which resulted in the expulsion of all Jews who had not been baptised into the Catholic faith by 1492 in Spain and 1497 in Portugal. These Jews, who were expelled and left Iberia in the condition of Jews, settled mainly around the Mediterranean basin of Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, namely, Salonika, the Balkans and Turkey.
"Spanish and Portuguese Jews" must also be clearly distinguished from the present-day Jews in Portugal and Jews in Spain. The modern-day Jewish communities resident in Spain and Portugal were founded with the assistance of the "Spanish and Portuguese Jews" residing outside the Iberian peninsula but consist, for the most part, of Jews from other Jewish ethnic subdivisions, particularly Ashkenazi Jews.
In addition to the term "Spanish and Portuguese Jews", these people are sometimes designated as Portuguese Jews, Jews of the Portuguese nation, Spanish Jews (common mainly in Italy) and Western Sephardim.
The use of the terms Portuguese Jews and Jews of the Portuguese nation in some areas (mainly in the Netherlands and Hamburg/Scandinavia, and at one time in London) seems to have arisen primarily as a way for the Spanish and Portuguese Jews to distance themselves from Spain in the times of political tension and war between Spain and the Netherlands in the 17th century. Similar considerations may have played a role for Jews in Bayonne and Bordeaux, given their proximity to the Spanish border. Another reason for this coinage may have been that a relatively high proportion of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews had Portugal as their immediate point of departure from the Iberian peninsula, as the decree forbidding Judaism in Portugal took place some years later than the expulsion from Spain. The term "Sephardim" necessarily connotes a link with Spain; the distinguishing feature of the group in question was the added link with Portugal: thus as a subset of the Sephardim, "Portuguese" and "Spanish and Portuguese" could be used interchangeably.
In Italy, the term Spanish Jews (Ebrei Spagnoli) is frequently used, but includes the descendants of Jews expelled from the kingdom of Naples, as well as Spanish and Portuguese Jews proper (i.e. conversos and their descendants). In Venice, Spanish and Portuguese Jews were often described as Ponentine (western), to distinguish them from Levantine (eastern) Sephardim from eastern Mediterranean areas. Occasionally Italian Jews distinguish between the "Portuguese Jews" of Pisa and Livorno and the "Spanish Jews" of Venice, Modena and elsewhere.
The term Western Sephardim is frequently used in modern research literature, but it may be problematic. It has been used to refer to either Spanish and Portuguese Jews, or Spanish-Moroccan Jews, or, in some cases, both of these. It is even occasionally used to include Greek and Balkan Sephardim, so as to contrast European Sephardim in general with Mizrahi Jews.
The scholar Joseph Dan distinguishes "medieval Sephardim" (Spanish exiles in the Ottoman Empire) from "Renaissance Sephardim" (Spanish and Portuguese communities), referring to the respective times of their formative contacts with Spanish language and culture.
In Spain and Portugal 
Spanish and Portuguese Jews were originally descended from conversos, i.e. Jews converted to Christianity, whose descendants later left the Iberian peninsula and reverted to Judaism.
Legend has it that conversos existed as early as the Visigothic period, and that there was a continuous phenomenon of crypto-Judaism from that time lasting throughout Spanish history. This is unlikely, as in the Muslim period there was no advantage in passing as a Christian instead of a Jew. The main wave of conversions, often forced, followed major anti-Jewish persecutions in 1391 in Spain. Legal definitions of the time theoretically acknowledged that a forced baptism was not a valid sacrament, but confined this to cases where it was literally administered by physical force: a person who had consented to baptism under threat of death or serious injury was still regarded as a voluntary convert, and accordingly forbidden to revert to Judaism. Crypto-Judaism as a large-scale phenomenon mainly dates from that time.
Conversos, whatever their real religious views, often (but not always) tended to marry and associate among themselves. As they achieved prominent positions in trade and in the Royal administration, they attracted considerable resentment from the "Old Christians". The ostensible reason given for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 was that the unconverted Jews had supported the conversos in their crypto-Jewish practices and thus delayed their assimilation into the Christian community.
Most of the (previously unconverted) Spanish Jews in 1492 chose exile rather than conversion, many of them crossing the border to Portugal. In Portugal, the Jews were given the choice of exile or conversion in 1497, but were mostly prevented from leaving, thus necessarily staying as ostensible converts whether they wished to or not. For this reason, crypto-Judaism was far more prevalent in Portugal than in Spain, even though many of these families were originally of Spanish rather than Portuguese descent.
Scholars are still divided on the typical religious loyalties of the conversos, in particular on whether they are appropriately described as "crypto-Jews". Given the secrecy surrounding their situation, the question is not easy to answer: probably the conversos themselves were divided, and could be ranged at different points between the possible positions. The suggested profiles are as follows:
- Sincere Christians, who were still subject to discrimination and accusations of Judaizing on the part of the Inquisition; some of these appealed to the Pope and sought refuge in the Papal States.
- Those who had honestly tried their best to live as Christians, but who, on finding that they were still not accepted socially and still suspected of Judaizing, conceived intellectual doubts on the subject and decided to try Judaism, on the reasoning that suspicion creates what it suspects.
- Genuine crypto-Jews, who regarded their conversions as forced on them and reluctantly conformed to Catholicism until they found the first opportunity of living an open Jewish life.
- Opportunistic "cultural commuters" whose private views may have been quite sceptical and who conformed to the local form of Judaism or Christianity depending on where they were at the time.
For these reasons, there was a continuous flow of people leaving Spain and Portugal (mostly Portugal) for places where they could practise Judaism openly, from 1492 until the end of the 18th century. They were generally accepted by the host Jewish communities as anusim (forced converts), whose conversion, being involuntary, did not compromise their Jewish status.
Conversos of the first generation after the expulsion still had some knowledge of Judaism based on memory of contact with a living Jewish community. In later generations, people had to avoid known Jewish practices that might attract undesired attention: conversos in group 3 evolved a home-made Judaism with practices peculiar to themselves, while those in group 2 had a purely intellectual conception of Judaism based on their reading of ancient Jewish sources preserved by the Church such as the Vulgate Old Testament, the Apocrypha, Philo and Josephus. Both groups therefore needed extensive re-education in Judaism after reaching their places of refuge outside the peninsula. This was achieved with the help of
- Sephardim living in Italy (and to a lesser extent, Italian Jews proper);
- 1492 exiles living in Morocco, who were the immediate heirs of the Andalusi Jewish tradition;
- especially in Holland and Germany, Ashkenazi Jews.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jewish communities have been re-established in Spain and Portugal, largely with the help of foreign Spanish and Portuguese communities such as that in London. The community of Oporto in particular was associated with a campaign of outreach to crypto-Jews by Captain Artur Carlos de Barros Basto (1887–1961), the "apostle of the Marranos". A more recent example is the Belmonte Jews. Many anusim in recent times have chosen to join the Lisbon Masorti (Conservative) community Beit Israel, which uses the Ashkenazi rite, rather than the older Orthodox Sephardic communities, as the latter have raised more difficulties about their religious status. It is unknown to what extent crypto-Judaism still exists in Spain and Portugal.
There are still Jewish communities in the North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. These places, though treated in most respects as integral parts of Spain, escaped the Inquisition and the expulsion, so these communities regard themselves as the remnant of pre-expulsion Spanish Jewry.
In Italy 
As Sephardic Jewish communities were established in central and northern Italy, following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from the Kingdom of Naples in 1533, these areas were an obvious destination for conversos wishing to leave Spain and Portugal. The similarity of the Italian language to Spanish was another attraction. Given their Christian cultural background and high level of European-style education, the new emigrants were less likely to follow the example of the 1492 expellees by settling in the Ottoman Empire, where a complete culture change would be required. On the other hand, in Italy they ran the risk of prosecution for Judaizing, given that in law they were baptized Christians; for this reason they generally avoided the Papal States. The Popes did allow some Spanish-Jewish settlement at Ancona, as this was the main port for the Turkey trade, in which their links with the Ottoman Sephardim were useful. Other states found it advantageous to allow the conversos to settle and mix with the existing Jewish communities, and to turn a blind eye to their religious status. In the next generation, the children of conversos could be brought up as fully Jewish with no legal problem, as they had never been baptized.
The main places of settlement were as follows.
- Venice. The Venetian Republic often had strained relations with the Papacy; they were also alive to the commercial advantages offered by the presence of educated Spanish-speaking Jews, especially for the Turkey trade. Previously the Jews of Venice were tolerated under charters for a fixed term of years, periodically renewed. In the early 16th century, these arrangements were made permanent, and a separate charter was granted to the "Ponentine" (western) community. Around the same time, the state required the Jews to live in the newly-established Venetian Ghetto. Nevertheless for a long time the Venetian Republic was regarded as the goldene medinah for Jews, equivalent to the Netherlands in the 17th century or the United States in the 20th century.
- Sephardic immigration was also encouraged by the Este princes, in their possessions of Reggio, Modena and Ferrara. In 1598 Ferrara was repossessed by the Papal States, leading to some Jewish emigration from there.
- In 1593, Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, granted Spanish and Portuguese Jews charters to live and trade in Pisa and Livorno.
On the whole, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews remained separate from the native Italian rite Jews, though there was considerable mutual religious and intellectual influence between the groups. In a given city, there was often an "Italian synagogue" and a "Spanish synagogue", and occasionally a "German synagogue" as well. Many of these synagogues have since merged, but the diversity of rites survived in modern Italy.
The Scola Spagnola of Venice was originally regarded as the "mother synagogue" for the Spanish and Portuguese community worldwide, as it was among the earliest to be established, and the first prayer book was published there. Later communities, such as in Amsterdam, followed its lead on ritual questions. With the decline in the importance of Venice in the 18th century, the leading role passed to Livorno (for Italy and the Mediterranean) and Amsterdam (for western countries). Unfortunately, the Livorno synagogue - considered to be the most important building in town - was destroyed in the Second World War: a modern building was erected on the same site in 1958–62.
Many merchants maintained a presence in both Italy and countries in the Ottoman Empire, and even those who settled permanently in the Ottoman Empire retained their Tuscan or other Italian nationality, so as to have the benefit of the Ottoman Capitulations. Thus, in Tunisia there was a community of Juifs Portugais, or L'Grana (Livornese), separate from, and regarding itself as superior to, the native Tunisian Jews (Tuansa). Smaller communities of the same kind existed in other countries, such as Syria, where they were known as Señores Francos. They were generally not numerous enough to establish their own synagogues, instead meeting for prayer in each other's houses.
In France 
In the 16th and early 17th centuries, conversos were also seeking refuge beyond the Pyrenees, settling in France at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Tarbes, Bayonne, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Montpellier. They lived apparently as Christians; were married by Catholic priests; had their children baptized, and publicly pretended to be Catholics. In secret, however, they circumcised their children, kept the Sabbath and feast-days as far as they could, and prayed together. King Henry III of France confirmed the privileges granted them by Henry II of France, and protected them against accusations. Under Louis XIII of France, the conversos of Bayonne were assigned to the suburb of St. Esprit. At St. Esprit, as well as at Peyrehorade, Bidache, Orthez, Biarritz, and St. Jean de Luz, they gradually avowed Judaism openly. In 1640 several hundred conversos, considered to be Jews, were living at St. Jean de Luz; and a synagogue existed in St. Esprit as early as 1660.
In pre-Revolutionary France, the Portuguese Jews were one of three tolerated Jewish communities, the other two being the Ashkenazim of Alsace-Lorraine and the Jews of the former Papal enclave of Comtat Venaissin; all three groups were emancipated at the French Revolution. The third community originally had their own Provençal rite, but adopted the Spanish and Portuguese rite shortly after the French Revolution and the incorporation of Comtat Venaissin into France. Today there are still a few Spanish and Portuguese communities in Bordeaux and Bayonne, and one in Paris, but in all these communities (and still more among French Jews generally) any surviving Spanish and Portuguese Jews are greatly outnumbered by Jews of North African origin.
During the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands, converso merchants had a strong trading presence there. When the United Provinces gained independence in 1581, the Dutch retained trading links with Portugal (rather than Spain, which was regarded as a hostile power). As there were penal laws against Catholics, and Catholicism was regarded with greater hostility than Judaism, conversos were encouraged to "come out" as Jews. Given the multiplicity of Protestant sects, the Netherlands were the first country in the Western world to establish a policy of religious tolerance. This made Amsterdam a magnet for conversos leaving Portugal.
There were originally three Sephardi communities: the first, Beth Jacob, already existed in 1610, and perhaps as early as 1602; Neve Shalom was founded between 1608 and 1612 by Jews of Spanish origin. The third community, Beth Israel, was established in 1618. These three communities began co-operating more closely in 1622. Eventually, in 1639, they merged to form Talmud Torah, the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam, which still exists today. The current synagogue, sometimes known as the Amsterdam Esnoga, was inaugurated in 1675.
At first the Dutch conversos had little knowledge of Judaism and had to recruit rabbis and hazzanim from Italy, and occasionally Morocco and Salonica, to teach them. Later on Amsterdam became a centre of religious learning: a religious college Ets Haim was established, with a copious Jewish and general library. This library still exists. The transactions of the college, mainly in the form of responsa, were published in a periodical, Peri Ets Haim (see links below). There were formerly several Portuguese synagogues in other cities such as The Hague. Since the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and destruction of Jews in the Second World War, the Amsterdam synagogue is the only remaining synagogue of the Portuguese rite in the Netherlands. It serves a membership of about 600. The synagogue at the Hague survived the war undamaged, but is now the Liberal Synagogue.
The position of Jews in the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium) was rather different. Considerable numbers of conversos lived there, in particular in Antwerp. The Inquisition was not allowed to operate. Nevertheless their practice of Judaism remained under cover and unofficial, as acts of Judaizing in Belgium could expose one to proceedings elsewhere in the Spanish possessions. Sporadic persecutions alternated with periods of unofficial toleration. The position improved somewhat in 1713, with the cession of the southern Netherlands to Austria, but no community was officially formed until the 19th century. There is a Portuguese synagogue in Antwerp; its members, like those of the Sephardic rite synagogues of Brussels, are now predominantly of North African origin, and few if any pre-War families or traditions remain.
In Germany and Northern Europe 
There were Portuguese Jews living in Hamburg as early as the 1590s. Records attest to their having a small synagogue called Talmud Torah in 1627, and the main synagogue, Beth Israel, was founded in 1652. From the 18th century on, the Portuguese Jews were increasingly outnumbered by "German Jews" (Ashkenazim). By 1900, they were thought to number only about 400.
A small branch of the Portuguese community was located in Altona, with a congregation known as Neweh Schalom. Historically, however, the Jewish community of Altona was overwhelmingly Ashkenazi, as Altona belonged to the kingdom of Denmark, which permitted Jews of all communities to settle there when Hamburg proper still only admitted the Portuguese.
Spanish and Portuguese Jews had an intermittent trading presence in Norway until the early 19th century, and were granted full residence rights in 1844. Today they have no separate organizational identity from the general (mainly Ashkenazi) Jewish community, though traditions survive in some families.
In Britain 
There were certainly Spanish and Portuguese merchants, many of them conversos, in England at the time of Queen Elizabeth I; another notable marrano was the physician Rodrigo Lopez. In the time of Oliver Cromwell, Menasseh ben Israel led a delegation seeking permission for Dutch Sephardim to settle in England: Cromwell was known to look favourably on the request, but no official act of permission has been found. By the time of Charles II and James II, a congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews had a synagogue in Creechurch Lane. Both these kings showed their assent to this situation by quashing indictments against the Jews for unlawful assembly. For this reason the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of England often cite 1656 as the year of re-admission, but look to Charles II as the real sponsor of their community.
Bevis Marks Synagogue was opened in 1701 in London. In the 1830s and 40s there was agitation for the formation of a branch synagogue in the West End, nearer where most congregants lived, but rabbis refused this on the basis of Ascama 1, forbidding the establishment of other synagogues within six miles of Bevis Marks. Dissident congregants, together with some Ashkenazim, accordingly founded the West London Synagogue in Burton Street in 1841. An official branch synagogue in Wigmore Street was opened in 1853. This moved to Bryanston Street in the 1860s, and to Lauderdale Road in Maida Vale in 1896. (A private synagogue existed in Highbury from 1883 to 1936.) A third synagogue has been formed in Wembley. Over the centuries the community has absorbed many Sephardi immigrants from Italy and North Africa, including many of its rabbis and hazzanim. The current membership includes many Iraqi Jews and some Ashkenazim, in addition to descendants of the original families. The Wembley community is predominantly Egyptian. A further synagogue is in the process of formation at Elstree.
The synagogues at Bevis Marks, Lauderdale Road and Wembley are all owned by the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community Sahar Asamaim (Sha'ar ha-Shamayim), and have no separate organisational identity. The community is served by a team rabbinate: the post of Haham, or chief rabbi, is currently vacant (and has frequently been so in the community's history). The day-to-day running of the community is the responsibility of a Mahamad, elected periodically and consisting of four parnasim (wardens) and one gabbai (treasurer). Former members of the mahamad are known as velhos (elders), while individual community members are known as yehidim.
In addition to the three main synagogues, there is a chapel at Ramsgate associated with the burial place of Sir Moses Montefiore. A synagogue in Holland Park is described as "Spanish and Portuguese" but serves chiefly Greek and Turkish Jews, with a mixed ritual: this is connected to the main community by a Deed of Association. The Manchester Sephardic synagogues are under the superintendence of the London community and use a predominantly Spanish and Portuguese ritual, but the membership is chiefly Syrian in heritage, with some Turkish, Iraqi and North African Jews. The London community formerly had oversight over some Baghdadi synagogues in the Far East, such as the Ohel Leah Synagogue in Hong Kong and Ohel Rachel Synagogue in Shanghai. Newer Sephardic rite synagogues in London, mostly for Baghdadi and Persian Jews, preserve their own ritual and do not come under the Spanish and Portuguese umbrella.
Like the Amsterdam community, the London Spanish and Portuguese community early set up a Medrash do Heshaim (=Ets Haim). This is less a functioning religious college than a committee of dignitaries responsible for community publications, such as prayer books. In 1862 the community founded the "Judith Lady Montefiore College" in Ramsgate, for the training of rabbis. This moved to London in the 1960s: students at the College concurrently followed courses at the London School of Jewish Studies. It closed in the 1980s, but was revived in 2005 as a part-time rabbinic training programme run from Lauderdale Road, serving the Anglo-Jewish Orthodox community in general, Ashkenazim as well as Sephardim.
In the Americas 
From the 16th to the 18th centuries, a majority of conversos leaving Portugal went to Brazil. This included economic emigrants with no interest in reverting to Judaism. As the Inquisition was active in Brazil as well as in Portugal, conversos still had to be careful.
Dutch Sephardim were interested in colonisation, and formed communities in both Curaçao and Paramaribo, Suriname, which have survived. Between 1630 and 1654, a Dutch colony existed in the north-east of Brazil, including Recife. This attracted both conversos from Portuguese Brazil and Jewish emigrants from Holland, who formed a community in Recife called Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue, the first synagogue in the Americas. On the reconquest of the Recife area by Portugal, many of these Jews (it is not known what percentage) left Brazil for new or existing communities in the Caribbean such as Curaçao, and formed a new community, Congregation Shearith Israel, in New Amsterdam (New York) in 1654. Numerous conversos, however, stayed in Brazil, migrating to the countryside in the province of Paraiba and away from the reinstated Inquisition, which was mostly active in the major cities.
In the United States, synagogues were formed at Newport, Rhode Island and Philadelphia, as well as in the southern colonies of South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. Since then, many of the former Sephardic synagogues in the southern states and the Caribbean have since become part of the Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist movements, and retain only a few Spanish and Portuguese traditions.
Despite the Dutch origins of the New York community, by the 19th century all of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities in the United States and Canada were very much part of the London-based family. The 19th and early 20th century editions of the prayer book published in London and Philadelphia contained the same basic text, and were designed for equity on both sides of the Atlantic: for example, they both contained a prayer for the Royal family and an alternative for use in republican states. The New York community continued to use these editions until the version of David de Sola Pool was published in 1954. On the other hand, in the first half of the 20th century, the New York community employed a series of hazzanim from Holland, with the result that the community's musical tradition remained close to that of Amsterdam.
The Spanish and Portuguese synagogues of the United States conserve varying degrees of Sephardic tradition, but the majority of their membership is now ethnically Ashkenazi. Newer Sephardic and Sephardic-rite communities, such as the Syrian Jews of Brooklyn and the Greek and Turkish Jews of Seattle, do not come under the Spanish and Portuguese umbrella. The Seattle community did use the de Sola Pool prayer books until the publication of Siddur Zehut Yosef in 2002. Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, a community in Los Angeles with a mainly Turkish ethnic background, still uses the de Sola Pool prayer books.
Some recent communities have been formed in southern states, for example in Houston, Texas and Miami, Florida, with a strong Spanish-speaking element, aiming at outreach to anusim. Similar communities have been formed in Central America, for example in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Notable in contemporary times is the revelation of Crypto-Jews amongst the oldest families of the American Southwest, particularly Northern New Mexico. These so called Crypto-Jew knowingly and unknowingly continue to practice Sephardic customs and rituals to the present time. Many deny Jewish ancestry arguably because of culturally instilled fear from medieval and late Renaissance times of executorial persecution by the Roman Catholic Church under the auspices of the Mexican Inquisition . However, genetic testing and oral histories are revealing that numerous New Mexican families descend from Sephardic Jews. Many have decided, and/or are currently undergoing, formal Halakhic conversion to mainstream Judaism; most notably in the Denver, Albuquerque, El Paso, and San Antonio metropolitan areas.
Most Spanish and Portuguese synagogues are, like those of the Italian Jews and the Romaniotes, characterised by a bipolar layout, with the tebáh (bimah) near the opposite wall to the Hechál (Ark). The Hekhál has its parochet (curtain) inside its doors, rather than outside. The sefarim (Torah scrolls) are usually wrapped in a very wide mantle, quite different from the cylindrical mantles used by most Ashkenazi Jews. Tikim—wooden or metal cylinders around the sefarim—are usually not used. Reportedly these were used by the Portuguese Jewish community in Hamburg.
The most important synagogues, or esnogas, as they are usually called amongst Spanish and Portuguese Jews, are the Amsterdam Esnoga and those in London and New York. Amsterdam is still the historical centre of the Amsterdam minhag, as used in the Netherlands and former Dutch possessions such as Surinam. Also important is the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, the historical centre of the London minhag. The "Snoa" (1732) of the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel congregation in Curaçao is considered one of the most important synagogues in the Jewish history of the Americas.
Characteristic language traits of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews are the use of both Spanish and Portuguese languages—and often a mixture of the two—in parts of the synagogue service. Otherwise, the use of Spanish and Portuguese quickly diminished amongst the Spanish and Portuguese Jews after the 17th century, and from the mid-19th century on, Spanish and Portuguese were in practice replaced with local languages in everyday use. Local languages used by Spanish and Portuguese Jews include Dutch (in the Netherlands and Belgium); Low German in the Hamburg/Altona area; and English in Great Britain, Ireland, USA and Jamaica.
Because of the relatively high proportion of immigrants through Portugal, the majority of Spanish and Portuguese Jews of the 16th and 17th centuries spoke Portuguese as their first language. Portuguese was primarily used for everyday communication in the first few generations, and was the usual language for official documents such as synagogue by-laws; for this reason, synagogue officers still often have Portuguese titles such as Parnas dos Cautivos and Thesoureiro do Heshaim. As a basic academic language, Portuguese was used for such works as the halakhic manual Thesouro dos Dinim by Menasseh Ben Israel and controversial works by Uriel da Costa.
Portuguese is used — sometimes purely, other times in a mixture with Spanish and Hebrew — in connection with announcements of mitsvót in the esnoga, in connection with the Mi shebberakh prayer etc. In London, for example, mitsvót are announced using Portuguese designations for the different roles played: for example, for lifting up or unwrapping the first or second Sefer Torah, "que levantara/desenfaxara o primeiro/secundo sefer Torah"), whereas in New York these roles are instead announced in Hebrew ("she-yagbiah/yiglol et Sefer haTorah haRishon/haSheni"). On Kal Nidre in London, the order of who is to carry the Sefarim is itself preceded by the Portuguese declaration "a ordem dos Sefarim de esta noite". These Portuguese phrases are generally pronounced phonetically by reference to the spelling as interpreted by a Spanish speaker, rather than as a Portuguese speaker would, though a recording of the correct Portuguese pronunciation was made for the use of the Amsterdam community.
The Judeo-Portuguese dialect was preserved in some documents, but has not been used in everyday speech since the late 18th or early 19th century: for example, Portuguese ceased to be a spoken language in Holland in the Napoleonic period, when Jewish schools were allowed to teach only in Dutch and Hebrew. Sermons in Bevis Marks Synagogue were preached in Portuguese till 1830, when English was substituted. Judeo-Portuguese has had some influence on the Judeo-Italian dialect of Livorno, known as Bagitto.
Castilian (Spanish) 
Castilian (Spanish) was used as the everyday language by those who came directly from Spain in the first few generations. Those who came from Portugal regarded it as their literary language, as did the Portuguese themselves at that time. Relatively soon, the Castilian Ladino took on a semi-sacred status, and works of theology as well as reza books (siddurim) were often written in Castilian rather than in Portuguese. ("Ladino", in this context, simply means literal translation from Hebrew: it should not be confused with the Judaeo-Spanish vernacular used by Balkan, Greek and Turkish Sephardim.) Members of the Amsterdam community continued to use Spanish as a literary language, and established clubs and libraries for the study of modern Spanish literature, such as the Academia de los Sitibundos (founded 1676) and the Academia de los Floridos (1685).
In England the use of Spanish and Portuguese continued until the mid-18th century: it is notable that the 1740 translation of the prayers was in Spanish, while the 1771 translation by A. Alexander was in (not very good) English. Today there is no tradition of using Spanish, except for the hymn Bendigamos, the translation of the Biblical passages in the prayer-book for Tishngáh be-Ab, and in certain traditional greetings.
The Hebrew of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews from the 19th century and 20th century is characterised primarily by the pronunciation of בֿ (Beth Rafé) as a hard b (e.g., Abrahám, Tebáh, Habdaláh) and the pronunciation of ע (‘Ayin) as a voiced velar nasal (Shemang, Ngalénu). The hard pronunciation of Beth Rafé differs from the v pronunciation of Moroccan Jews and the Judaeo-Spanish Jews of the Balkans, but is shared by Algerian Jews and Syrian Jews. The nasal pronunciation of ‘Ayin is shared with traditional Italian pronunciation, but not with any other Sephardi groups. Both these features are declining, under the influence of hazzanim from other communities and of Israeli Hebrew.
The sibilants ס, שׂ, שׁ and צ are all transcribed as s in earlier sources. This, along with the traditional spellings Sabá (Shabbat), Menasseh (Menashe), Ros(as)anáh (Rosh Hashana), Sedacáh (tzedaka), massoth (matzot), is evidence of a traditional pronunciation which did not distinguish between the various sibilants—a trait which is shared with some coastal dialects of Moroccan Hebrew. Since the 19th century, the pronunciations [ʃ] (for שׁ and [ts] for צ have become common—probably by influence from Oriental Sephardic immigrants, from Ashkenazi Hebrew and, in our times, Israeli Hebrew.
The תֿ (Tav rafé) is pronounced like t in all traditions of Spanish and Portuguese Jews today, although the consistent transliteration as th in 17th century sources may suggest an earlier differentiation of תֿ and תּ. (Final תֿ is occasionally heard as d.)
In Dutch-speaking areas, but not elsewhere, ג (gimel) is often pronounced [χ] like Dutch "g". More careful speakers use this sound for gimel rafé (gimel without dagesh), while pronouncing gimel with dagesh as [ɡ].
The accentuation of Hebrew adheres strictly to the rules of Biblical Hebrew, including the secondary stress on syllables with a long vowel before a Shevá. Also, the shevá na‘ in the beginning of a word is normally pronounced as a short eh (Shemang, berít, berakháh). Shevá na‘ is also normally pronounced after a long vowel with secondary stress (ngomedím, barekhú). However it is not pronounced after a prefixed u- (and): ubne, not u-bene.
Vocal shevá, segol (short e) and tsere (long e) are all pronounced like the 'e' in "bed": there is no distinction except in length. In some communities, e.g. Amsterdam, vocal shevá is pronounced [a] when marked with ga'ya (a straight line next to the vowel symbol, equivalent to meteg), and as [i] when followed by the letter yod: thus va-nashubah and bi-yom (but be-Yisrael).
The differentiation between kamatz gadol and kamatz katan is made according to purely phonetic rules without regard to etymology, which occasionally leads to spelling pronunciations at variance with the rules laid down in the grammar books. For example, כָל (all), when unhyphenated, is pronounced "kal" rather than "kol" (in "kal ngatsmotai" and "Kal Nidre"), and צָהֳרַיִם (noon) is pronounced "tsahorayim" rather than "tsohorayim". This feature is shared by other Sephardic groups, but is not found in Israeli Hebrew. It is also found in the transliteration of proper names in the Authorised Version, such as "Naomi", "Aholah" and "Aholibah".
Although all Sephardic liturgies are similar, each group has its own distinct liturgy. Many of these differences are a product of the syncretization of the Spanish liturgy and the liturgies of the local communities where Spanish exiles settled. Other differences are the result of earlier regional variations in liturgy from pre-expulsion Spain. Moses Gaster (died 1939, Hakham of the S&P Jews of Great Britain) has shown that the order of prayers used by Spanish and Portuguese Jews has its origin in the Castilian liturgy of Pre-Expulsion Spain.
As compared with other Sephardic groups, the minhag of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews is characterised by a relatively low number of cabbalistic additions. The Friday night service thus traditionally starts with Psalm 29, “Mizmor leDavid: Habu LaA.”. In the printed siddurim of the mid-17th century, “Lekhah Dodi” and the Mishnaic passage Bammeh madlikin are also not yet included, but these are included in all newer siddurim of the tradition except for the early West London and Mickve Israel (Savannah) Reform prayerbooks, both of which have Spanish and Portuguese roots.
Of other, less conspicuous, elements, a number of archaic forms can be mentioned—including some similarities with the Italian and Western Ashkenazi traditions. Such elements include the shorter form of the Birkat hammazon which can be found in the older Amsterdam and Hamburg/Scandinavian traditions. The Livorno (Leghorn) tradition, however, includes many of the cabbalistic additions found in most other Sephardi traditions. The current London minhag is generally close to the Amsterdam minhag, but follows the Livorno tradition in some details—most notably in the Birkat hammazon.
One interesting feature of the tradition (at least in New York and Philadelphia) is that, when reading the haftarah on Simhat Torah and Shabbat Bereshit, the Hatan Torah and Hatan Bereshit chant two extra verses pertaining to bridegrooms from Isaiah 61:10 and 62:5 at the end of the standard haftarot for the days themselves. This seems to be a unique remnant of the old tradition of reading Isaiah 61:10-63:9 if a bridegroom who had been married the previous week was present in synagogue.
The ritual music of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews differs from other Sephardi music in that it is influenced by Western European Baroque and Classical music to a relatively high degree. Not only in Spanish and Portuguese communities, but in many others in southern France and northern Italy, it was common to commission elaborate choral compositions, often including instrumental music, for the dedication of a synagogue, for family events such as weddings and circumcisions and for festivals such as Hosha'na Rabbah on which the halachic restriction on instrumental music did not apply.
Already in 1603, the sources tell us that harpsichords were used in the Spanish and Portuguese synagogues in Hamburg. Particularly in the Amsterdam community, but to some degree also in Hamburg and elsewhere, there was a flourishing of classical music in the synagogues in the 18th century. There was formerly a custom in Amsterdam, inspired by a hint in the Zohar, of holding an instrumental concert on Friday afternoon prior to the coming in of the Sabbath, as a means of getting the congregants in the right mood for the Friday night service. An important Jewish composer was Abraham de Casseres; music was also commissioned from non-Jewish composers such as Christian Joseph Lidarti.
Another important centre for Spanish and Portuguese Jewish music was Livorno, where a rich cantorial tradition developed, incorporating both traditional Sephardic music from around the Mediterranean and composed art music: this was in turn disseminated to other centres.
Already in the 17th century, choirs were used in the service on holidays in the Amsterdam community: this choir still exists and is known as Santo Serviço. This custom was introduced in London in the early 19th century. In most cases, the choirs have consisted only of men and boys, but in Curaçao, the policy was changed to allow women in the choir (in a separate section) in 1863.
Instrumental music 
There are early precedents for the use of instrumental music in the synagogue originating in 17th century Italy as well as the Spanish and Portuguese communities of Hamburg and Amsterdam and in the Ashkenazic community of Prague. As in most other communities (until the rise of the Reform movement in the 19th century) the use of instrumental music was not permitted on Shabbat or festivals.
As a general rule, Spanish and Portuguese communities do not use pipe organs or other musical instruments during services. In some Spanish and Portuguese communities, notably in France (Bordeaux, Bayonne), USA (Savannah, Charleston, Richmond) and the Caribbean (Curaçao), pipe organs came into use during the course of the 19th century, in parallel with developments in Reform Judaism. In Curaçao, where the traditional congregation had an organ set up in the late 19th century, the use of the organ on Shabbat was eventually also accepted, as long as the organ player was not Jewish. In the more traditional congregations, such as London and New York, a free-standing organ or electric piano is used at weddings or benot mitzvah (although never on Shabbat or Yom Tob), in the same way as in some English Ashkenazi synagogues.
Current practice 
The cantorial style of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews adheres to the general Sephardi principle that every word is sung out loud and that most of the ritual is performed communally rather than solistically (although nowadays in the New York community, the zemirot throughout the year, Hallél on festivals or the new moon, and several of the seliḥot during Kippúr are chanted in a manner more similar to the Ashkenazi practice of reading only the first and last few verses of each paragraph aloud). The ḥazzán’s rôle is typically one of guiding the congregation rather than being a soloist. Thus, there is traditionally a much stronger emphasis on correct diction and knowledge of the musical minhág than on the solistic voice quality. In the parts of the service where the ḥazzán would traditionally have a more solistic rôle, the basic melodies are embellished according to the general principles of Baroque performance practice: for example, after a prayer or hymn sung by the congregation, the ḥazzán often repeats the last line in a highly elaborated form. Two- and three-part harmony is relatively common, and Edwin Seroussi has shown that the harmonies are a reflection of more complex, four-part harmonies in written sources from the 18th century.
The recitative style of the central parts of the service, such as the Amidah, the Psalms and the cantillation of the Torah is loosely related to that of other Sephardi and Mizraḥi communities, though there is no formal maqam system as used by most of these. The closest resemblance is to the rituals of Gibraltar and Northern Morocco, as Spanish and Portuguese communities traditionally recruited their ḥazzanim from these countries. There is a remoter affinity with the Babylonian and North African traditions: these are more conservative than the Syrian and Judaeo-Spanish (Balkan, Greek, Turkish) traditions, which have been more heavily influenced by popular Mediterranean, Turkish and Arabic music.
In other parts of the service, and in particular on special occasions such as the festivals, Shabbat Bereshit and the anniversary of the founding of the synagogue, the traditional tunes are often replaced by metrical and harmonized compositions in the Western European style. This is not the case on Rosh Hashanah and Kippúr (Yom Kippur), when the whole service has a far more archaic character.
A characteristic feature of Oriental Sephardic music is the transposition of popular hymn tunes (themselves sometimes derived from secular songs) to important prayers such as Nishmat and Kaddish. This occurs only to a limited extent in the Spanish and Portuguese ritual: such instances as exist can be traced to the book of hymns Imre no'am (1628), published in Amsterdam by Joseph Gallego, a hazzan originating in Salonica. Certain well-known tunes, such as El nora aliláh and Ahhot ketannáh, are shared with Sephardi communities worldwide with small variations.
Spanish and Portuguese traditional cantillation has several unique elements. Torah cantillation is divided into two musical styles. The first is the standard used for all regular readings. A similar but much more elaborate manner of cantillation is used on special occasions. This is normally referred to as High Tangamim or High Na'um. It is used for special portions of the Torah reading, principally the Ten Commandments but also Chapter 1 of Bereshit (on Simchat Torah), the Shirat ha-Yam, the Song of Moses, the concluding sentences of each of the five books and several other smaller portions.
Spanish and Portuguese Torah cantillation has been notated several times since the 17th century. The melodies now in use, particularly in London, show some changes from the earlier notated versions and a degree of convergence with the Iraqi melody.
The rendition of the Haftarah (prophetic portion) also has two (or three) styles. The standard, used for most haftarot, is nearly identical with that of the Spanish-Moroccan nusach. A distinctly more somber melody is used for the three haftarot preceding the ninth of Ab (the "three weeks".) On the morning of the Ninth of Ab a third melody is used for the Haftarah—although this melody is borrowed from the melody for the Book of Ruth.
There is a special melody used for the Book of Esther: in London it is a cantillation system in the normal sense, while in New York and Amsterdam it is chant-like and does not depend on the Masoretic symbols. The books of Ruth, read on Shavuot, and Lamentations, read on the Ninth of Ab, have their own cantillation melodies as well. There is no tradition of reading Ecclesiastes.
Most Spanish and Portuguese communities have no tradition of liturgical reading of the Shir haShirim (Song of Songs), unlike Ashkenazim who read it on Pesach and Oriental Sephardim who read it on Friday nights. However in the two weeks preceding Pesach a passage consisting of selected verses from that book is read each day at the end of the morning service. The chant is similar but not identical to the chant for Shir haShirim in the Moroccan tradition, but does not exactly follow the printed cantillation marks. A similar chant is used for the prose parts of the book of Job on the Ninth of Ab.
There is no cantillation mode for the books of Psalms, Proverbs and the poetic parts of Job. The chant for the Psalms in the Friday night service has some resemblance to the cantillation mode of the Oriental traditions, but is not dependent on the cantillation marks.
Communities, past and present 
|City||Synagogue or Community
Belgium and the Netherlands 
|Amsterdam||Congregation Talmud Torah, Visserplein (1639)||http://www.esnoga.com||synagogue opened 1675|
|Antwerp||Portuguese synagogue, Hovenierstraat (1898)||synagogue opened 1913; membership and ritual now mainly North African|
||now the Liberal Synagogue|
|Bayonne||http://www.communautedebayonne.org/||see French Wikipedia article
|Paris||Temple Buffault (1877)||http://www.buffault.net/Temple_BUFFAULT.html||membership mainly Algerian|
|Carpentras||||formerly used the Provençal rite, then assimilated to the Bordeaux Portuguese minhag|
|Hamburg||Beth Israel (1652)|
|Altona||Neweh Schalom (c. 1700–1885)|
|Copenhagen||The Portuguese congregation of Copenhagen (1684)|
Community active between 1675-1902
|Gibraltar||Sha'ar Hashamayim (1724)||known as "Esnoga Grande"; synagogue opened 1812|
|Ets Hayim (1759)||known as "Esnoga Chica"
|Nefutsot Yehuda (1799)||known as "Esnoga Flamenca"
|Abudarham Synagogue (1820)||named after Solomon Abudarham
|London||Bevis Marks Synagogue (synagogue opened 1701)||http://sandp.org (whole community); http://www.bevismarks.org.uk (Bevis Marks)||community Sahar Asamaim dates from 1656, owns all three synagogues|
|Lauderdale Road synagogue (1896)||http://www.lauderdaleroadsynagogue.org||replaced Bryanston Street branch synagogue (1866–1896)|
|Wembley Synagogue (1977)||http://www.wsps.org.uk/||community formed in 1962; membership mainly Egyptian|
|Rambam Sephardi Synagogue, Elstree||http://www.rambam.org.uk/||in process of formation|
|Manchester||Sha'are Hayim (formerly Withington Congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews), Queenston Road, West Didsbury (community formed 1906 or before; synagogue opened 1926)||both synagogues are owned by the Sephardi Congregation of South Manchester|
|Sha'are Sedek, Old Lansdowne Road, West Didsbury (1924)||formerly independent; now part of Sephardi Congregation of South Manchester|
|Salford||Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue (Sha'are Tephillah)||formerly at Cheetham Hill (the old building is now the Manchester Jewish Museum)|
|Leeds||Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Leeds (est. 1924; dissolved in late 1940s )|||
|Dublin||Crane Lane Synagogue; Dublin's Old Hebrew Congregation (1660-1791)||Also known as Crane Lane Synagogue, Marlborough Green Synagogue.|
|Cork||Portuguese congregation||Founded either 1731 or 1747, extinct by 1796|
|Venice||Scola Spagnola (1550)|
|Livorno||Comunità ebraica di Livorno (1593)||http://www.comunitaebraica.org/main_eng.htm||original synagogue built 1603; present synagogue opened 1962|
|Florence||Great Synagogue of Florence||http://moked.it/firenzebraica|
|Rome||Tempio Spagnolo, Via Catalana|
Sinagoga Mekor Haim (Kadoorie Synagogue)
|Ponta Delgada, Azores||Sinagoga Porta do Céu (Shaar ha-Shamain)|
||see Belmonte Jews|
|Jerusalem||Congregation Sha’are Ratzon (1981)||http://www.spanishportuguese.org.il||located in the Istanbuli Synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City and following (mostly) the London minhag|
|Surabaya||Surabaya Synagogue||dwindling mixed Dutch Sephardic, Baghdadi, and Yemenite community. Closed down in 2009 because of political upheavals.|
|Montreal||Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal (1768)||http://www.thespanish.org/||current synagogue opened 1947|
Central America and the Caribbean 
|Willemstad, Curaçao||Mikve Israel-Emanuel (1730)||http://www.snoa.com||now Reconstructionist|
|Jamaica||Neveh Shalom (1704)||http://www.ucija.org , http://www.haruth.com/JewsJamaica||merged into the United Congregation of Israelites (1921)|
|St. Thomas, Virgin Islands||Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim, Charlotte Amalie (1796)||http://www.onepaper.com/synagogue/||now Reform|
|Barbados||Nidhe Israel Synagogue, Bridgetown (1651)||now Conservative|
|El Salvador||Sephardic Orthodox Jewish Council of El Salvador "Shearit Israel" (2008)||http://www.sephardicjews.org , http://www.kosherelsalvador.com||the only orthodox synagogue in El Salvador|
|Dominican Republic||Beth HaMidrash Sefardi Nidhé Israel "Casa de Estudio Sefardíes de la Republica Dominicana" (2009)||http://www.nidheisrael.org||the only traditional Sephardic Center in the Dominican Republic|
|Trinidad & Tobago||B'nai Shalom (2001)||http://www.jewishtnt.org||the Jewish society of Trinidad & Tobago, which uses Sephardi minhag; many members are of Sephardic origin|
|Panama||Kol Shearith Israel (1876)|
|Paramaribo||Sedek Ve Shalom Synagogue (1735)||
||community merged with Neveh Shalom; Conservative
|Neveh Shalom Synagogue (1716 to 1735)||http://www.suriname-jewish-community.com/index.html
||sold to Ashkenazim in 1735|
|Jodensavanne||Congregation Bereche ve Shalom (1639 to 1832)|
|Recife||Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue (1637 to 1654)||recently restored as museum and community centre|
Prominent rabbis 
- Menasseh ben Israel
- Jacob ben Aaron Sasportas
- Saul Levi Morteira
- Isaac Aboab da Fonseca
- Jacob Abendana
- David Nieto
- Isaac Nieto
- Raphael Meldola
- D. A. de Sola
- Isaac Leeser
- Abraham de Sola
- Sabato Morais
- Abraham Pereira Mendes
- Frederick de Sola Mendes
- Henry Pereira Mendes
- Moses Gaster
- David de Sola Pool
- Shem Tob Gaguine
- Solomon Gaon
- Abraham Lopes Cardozo
- Nathan T. Lopes Cardozo
- Isaac Touro
- Henry Samuel Morais
- Abraham Cohen Pimentel
- David Abraham Jessurun Cardozo
Other prominent personalities 
- First-generation Sephardic exiles: Don Isaac Abarbanel, Solomon ibn Verga, Abraham Zacuto, Abraham ben Salomon de Torrutiel Ardutiel, Yosef ben Tzadiq of Arévalo
- Pedro de Herrera - Gibraltar community leader
- Alonso Calle — treasurer on the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Americas. He was one of the settlers of Sephardic origin who composed the crew.
- Doña Gracia Nasi — businesswoman and philanthropist
- Joseph Nasi — Duke of Naxos
- Rodrigo López — physician who served Queen Elizabeth
- Elijah Montalto - physician and polemicist from Paris, who became the personal physician of Maria de Medici.
- Abraham Cohen Herrera — religious philosopher
- Uriel da Costa — controversial writer
- Antonio Fernandez Carvajal — a Portuguese-Jewish merchant, who became the first endenizened English Jew.
- Moses Cohen Henriques — Caribbean pirate
- Isaac Orobio de Castro — religious writer
- Baruch Spinoza — philosopher
- Solomon de Medina — financier
- Francisco Lopes Suasso — financier to William of Orange
- Abraham de Casseres — Portuguese-Dutch Jewish composer of the late baroque period.
- António José da Silva — Brazilian dramatist
- Jacob Rodrigues Pereira — financier, academic and the first teacher of deaf-mutes in France.
- Isaac de Pinto — Dutch writer
- Emanuel Mendez da Costa — English botanist, naturalist, philosopher, and collector of valuable notes and of manuscripts, and of anecdotes of the literati.
- Isaac Pinto — American publisher
- Aaron Lopez — Portuguese Jewish merchant and philanthropist.
- Haym Solomon — financier to George Washington
- Gershom Mendes Seixas — hazzan and American revolutionary
- Daniel Mendoza — English prizefighter, who was boxing champion of England (1792–95).
- Isaac D'Israeli — writer
- David Ricardo — economist
- Judah Touro — American businessman and philanthropist.
- Moses Montefiore — philanthropist
- Olinde Rodrigues — French banker, mathematician, and social reformer.
- Péreire brothers — French financiers, rivals of the Rothschilds
- Benjamin Mendes da Costa - English merchant and philanthropist.
- Jacob De Cordova — founder of the Jamaica Gleaner, and later a member of the Texas House of Representatives.
- Judah P. Benjamin — politician and lawyer
- Grace Aguilar — novelist
- Mark Prager Lindo — Dutch prose writer.
- Edwin de Leon —Confederate diplomat, writer, and journalist.
- Moses Angel — educationist and founder of Jewish Chronicle
- Albert Cardozo - American jurist.
- Jacob Mendes Da Costa — American physician and surgeon.
- Thomas Cooper de Leon - American journalist, author, and playwright.
- Catulle Mendès — French poet
- Emma Lazarus — American poet
- Ernest Peixotto — artist
- Daniel De Leon — American socialist newspaper editor, politician, Marxist theoretician, and trade union organizer.
- David Belasco — American theatrical producer, impresario, director and playwright.
- Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita — Dutch graphic artist, teacher of M. C. Escher
- Benjamin N. Cardozo — U.S. Supreme Court Justice
- Philip Guedalla — writer and critic
- Vivian de Sola Pinto — British poet, literary critic and historian.
- Julio Lobo — Cuban sugar trader and financier.
- Morris Fidanque de Castro — first native Governor of the United States Virgin Islands.
- Frieda Belinfante — cellist
- Max Delvalle — Vice President (and briefly President) of Panama.
- George Maduro — Dutch war hero.
- Abraham Bueno de Mesquita — comedian
- Vic Seixas — tennis player.
- Eric Arturo Delvalle — President of Panama.
- Bruce Bueno de Mesquita — political scientist, professor at New York University, and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews 
- Francisco Henríquez y Carvajal — President of the Dominican Republic.
- Ophir Pines-Paz — Israeli politician
- Nicolas Maduro — Venezuelan politician, interim President of Venezuela and former Vice President of Venezuela
- Henrique Capriles - Venezuelan politician and lawyer, leader of the opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution
- Sean Paul (Henriques) - Jamaican dancehall musician.
See also 
- History of the Jews in Spain
- History of the Jews in Portugal
- Sephardic Jews in the Netherlands
- History of the Marranos in England
- History of the Jews in Gibraltar
- Sephardic law and customs (for liturgy etc.)
- Raymond of Peñafort, Summa, lib. 1 p.33, citing D.45 c.5.
- Netanyahu, Benzion (2002). The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain (2nd ed.). London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 0940322390.
- An extreme rather than a typical example is Uriel da Costa.
- This is the view of them taken in the rabbinic Responsa of the period.
- Glick, Thomas F. (1998). "On Converso and Marrano Ethnicity". In Gampel, Benjamin. Crisis and Creativity in the Sephardi World (1391–1648). New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 59–76. ISBN 0231109229.
- Melammed, Renee Levine (2005). A Question of Identity: Iberian Conversos in Historical Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195170717.
- http://www.masorti.eu/index.php/partner-organizations/beit-israel-lisbon-portugal. See also Jules Harlow.
- See also History of the Jews of Thessaloniki#Economic decline.
- See Roman Catholicism in the Netherlands#History and Dutch Mission.
- Henriques, The Jews and the English Law.
- This is corroborated by the invariable use, in Judaeo-Spanish, of ש without diacritic to mean Spanish s (ס is reserved for ç). On the other hand, s is often pronounced [ʃ] in Portuguese.
- The pronunciation of "g" as [χ] in Dutch was originally a peculiarity of Amsterdam: the historic pronunciation was [ɣ]. The use of [ɣ] for gimel rafé is found in other communities, e.g. among Syrian and Yemenite Jews. Coincidentally, "g" following a vowel is pronounced as the approximant [ɣ˕] in modern Spanish (but not in Portuguese).
- In the Tiberian vocalization segol is open [ɛ] and tsere is closed [e], like French é; while in Ashkenazi Hebrew tsere is often [ej] as in "they". In both Ashkenazi and modern Hebrew, vocal shevá is the indistinct vowel in French "le" and English "the" and sometimes disappears altogether.
- This rule forms part of the Tiberian vocalization reflected in works from the Masoretic period, and is laid down in grammatical works as late as Solomon Almoli's Halichot Sheva (Constantinople 1519), though he records that it is dying out and that "in most places" vocal sheva is pronounced like segol.
- For example the Provençal community of Comtat-Venaissin: see Louis Saladin, Canticum Hebraicum.
- See for example Adler Israel, Hosha’ana Rabbah in Casale Monferrato 1732: Dove in the Clefts of the Rock, Jewish Music Research Center, Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Jerusalem 1990 (Yuval Music series Volume: 2)
- Seroussi (in Bibliography).
- Traditionally, an auditioning cantor in an Ashkenazi synagogue is asked to sing Kol Nidre, a solo piece demanding great vocal dexterity, range and emotional expression, while in a Sephardi synagogue he is asked to sing Bammeh madlikin, a plainsong recitative which demands accuracy more than anything else.
- An example of this recitative style can be heard in the first part of the 2002 BBC TV serial Daniel Deronda, where (now emeritus) Reverend Halfon Benarroch can be heard chanting the psalms that begin the Afternoon Service.
- Link to .pdf file; another link; on screen version. The book does not of course set out the tunes, but it names the songs that they were borrowed from.
- In printed Hebrew Bibles, the Ten Commandments have two sets of cantillation marks: the ta'am 'elyon or "upper accentuation" for public reading and the ta'am taḥton or "lower accentuation" for private study. The term "High Tangamim" for the melody in question is borrowed from the ta'am 'elyon, for which it is used.
- Many other Sephardic traditions use special melodies for these portions as well. However, the Spanish and Portuguese melody is different from most others. Anecdotally, the Spanish and Portuguese High Tangamim are similar to the melody of Kurdish Jews.
- That is, the older melody used in Mosul and in most of the Iraqi Jewish diaspora, as distinct from the Baghdadi melody, which belongs to the Ottoman family: see Cantillation melodies and Sephardic cantillation.
- Dates shown refer to the founding of the community rather than the synagogue building, unless shown otherwise. Italics mean community no longer exists.
- Altabé, David, Spanish and Portuguese Jewry before and after 1492: Brooklyn 1993
- Angel, Marc D., Remnant Of Israel: A Portrait Of America's First Jewish Congregation: ISBN 1-878351-62-1
- Barnett, R. D., and Schwab, W., The Western Sephardim (The Sephardi Heritage Volume 2): Gibraltar Books, Northants., 1989
- Birmingham, S., The Grandees: America's Sephardic Elite: Syracuse 1971 repr. 1997 ISBN 0-8156-0459-9
- de Sola Pool, David and Tamar, An Old Faith in the New World: New York, Columbia University Press, 1955. ISBN 0-231-02007-4
- Dobrinsky, Herbert C.: A treasury of Sephardic laws and customs: the ritual practices of Syrian, Moroccan, Judeo-Spanish and Spanish and Portuguese Jews of North America. Revised ed. Hoboken, N.J.: KTAV; New York: Yeshiva Univ. Press, 1988. ISBN 0-88125-031-7
- Gubbay, Lucien and Levy, Abraham, The Sephardim: Their Glorious Tradition from the Babylonian Exile to the Present Day: paperback ISBN 1-85779-036-7; hardback ISBN 0-8276-0433-5 (a more general work but with notable information on the present day London S&P community)
- Hyamson, M., The Sephardim of England: A History of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Community 1492-1951: London 1951
- Katz and Serels (ed.), Studies on the History of Portuguese Jews: New York, 2004 ISBN 0-87203-157-8
- Laski, Neville, The Laws and Charities of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London
- Meijer, Jaap (ed.), Encyclopaedia Sefardica Neerlandica: Uitgave van de Portugees-Israëlietische Gemeente: Amsterdam, 1949–1950 (2 vol., in Dutch)
- Samuel, Edgar, At the End of the Earth: Essays on the history of the Jews in England and Portugal: London 2004 ISBN 0-902528-37-8
- Singerman, Robert, The Jews in Spain and Portugal: A Bibliography: 1975
- Singerman, Robert, Spanish and Portuguese Jewry: a classified bibliography: 1993 ISBN 0313257523; ISBN 978-0313257520
- Studemund-Halévy, Michael & Koj, P. (publ.), Sefarden in Hamburg: zur Geschichte einer Minderheit: Hamburg 1993–1997 (2 vol.)
Caribbean Jews 
- Ezratty, Harry A., 500 Years in the Jewish Caribbean: The Spanish & Portuguese Jews in the West Indies, Omni Arts Publishers (November 2002); hardback ISBN 0-942929-18-7, paperback ISBN 0-942929-07-1
- Spanish and Portuguese Jews in the Caribbean and the Guianas: A Bibliography (Hardcover) John Carter Brown Library (June 1999) ISBN 0-916617-52-1
- Arbell, Mordechai, The Jewish Nation of the Caribbean: The Spanish-Portuguese Jewish Settlements in the Caribbean and the Guianas ISBN 965-229-279-6
- Arbell, Mordechai, The Portuguese Jews of Jamaica ISBN 976-8125-69-1
Synagogue Architecture 
- Kadish, Sharman; Bowman, Barbara; and Kendall, Derek, Bevis Marks Synagogue 1701–2001: A Short History of the Building and an Appreciation of Its Architecture (Survey of the Jewish Built Heritage in the United Kingdom & Ireland): ISBN 1-873592-65-5
- Treasures of a London temple: A descriptive catalogue of the ritual plate, mantles and furniture of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Synagogue in Bevis Marks: London 1951 ASIN B0000CI83D
Law and ritual 
- Brandon, I. Oëb, (tr. Elisheva van der Voort), Complete manual for the reader of the Portuguese Israelitic Congregation in Amsterdam: Curaçao 1989. (Dutch original forms part of Encyclopaedia Sefardica Neerlandica, above.)
- Gaguine, Shem Tob, Keter Shem Tob, 7 vols (in Hebrew): vols. 1-2, vol. 3, vol. 6, vol. 7
- Salomon, H. P., Het Portugees in de Esnoga van Amsterdam. (A Língua Portuguesa na Esnoga de Amesterdão): Amsterdam 2002 (in Dutch). Portuguese phrases used in the synagogue service, with a CD showing correct pronunciation.
- Whitehill, G. H., The Mitsvot of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, London (Sha'ar Hashamayim): A guide for Parnasim: London 1969
- Peri Ets Haim (ed. Isaac Haim Abendana de Britto): vol. 1, vol. 2 , vol. 3, vol. 4, vol. 5, vol. 6 (vol. 2 of new series), vol. 7 (vol. 3 of new series), vol. 8 (vol. 4 of new series), vol. 9, vol. 10, vol. 11, vol. 12
- Hirsch, Menko Max, Frucht vom Baum des Lebens. Ozer Peroth Ez Chajim. Die Sammlung der Rechtsgutachten Peri Ez Chajim des Rabbinerseminars Ets Haim zu Amsterdam. Zeitlich geordnet, ins Deutsche übertragen und in gekürzter Form herausgegeben: Antwerp and Berlin 1936, German abstract of the rulings in Peri Ets Haim
- Dayan Toledano, Pinchas, Fountain of Blessings, Code of Jewish Law (four volumes), Mekor bracha: Jerusalem 2009.
- de Sola Pool, David, The Traditional Prayer Book for Sabbath and Festivals: Behrman House, 1960.
Reza books (siddurim) 
- Venice edition, 1524: reproduced in photostat in Remer, Siddur and Sefer Tefillat Ḥayim, Jerusalem 2003
- Libro de Oraciones, Ferrara 1552 (Spanish only)
- Fiorentino, Salomone, Seder Tefilah סדר תפלה: Orazioni quotidiane per uso degli Ebrei Spagnoli e Portoghesi: questo volume contiene le tre orazioni giornaliere, quella del Sabbato e del capo di mese tradotte dall’idioma ebraico coll’aggiunta di alcune note e di qualche poetica versione Livorno, 1802.
- Fiorentino, Salomone, Seder Tefilah סדר תפלה: Orazioni quotidiane per uso degli ebrei spagnoli e portoghesi ... Vienna: Antonio Schmid, 1822.
- Fiorentino, Salomone, Seder Tefilah סדר תפלה: Orazioni quotidiane per uso degli ebrei spagnoli e portoghesi ... Livorno: Presso Natan Molco, 1825.
- Ottolenghi, Lazzaro E., Maḥzor le-yamim nora’im מחזור לימים נוראים: Orazioni ebraico-italiano per il capo d'anno e giorno dell;Espiazione: ad uso degli Israeliti Portoghesi e Spagnoli Livorno, 1821.
- Ottolenghi, Lazzaro E., Sefer Mo’ade H’: Orazioni ebraico-italiano per le tre annuali solennità: ad uso degli israeliti portoghesi e spagnoli Livorno, 1824.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières Journalières à l'usage des Juifs portugais ou espagnols .. auxquelles on a ajoutés des notes élémentaires Nice, 1772.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières des Jours du Ros-Haschana et du Jour de Kippour Nice 1773.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières Journalières à l'usage des Juifs portugais ou espagnols .. traduites de l’hébreu: auxquelles on a ajoutés des notes élémentaires, nouvelle édition Paris: chez Lévy, 1807.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières des Jours du Ros-Haschana et du Jour de Kippour, nouvelle édition Paris, 1807.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières des Jours de Jeûnes de Guedalya, de Tebeth, d’Esther, de Tamouz et d’Ab Paris: chez Lévy, 1807.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières des Fêtes de Pessah, Sebouhot, et de Souccot Paris: chez Lévy, 1807.
- Venture, Mardochée, Cantique des Cantique, avec la paraphrase chaldaïque, et traité d’Aboth ... précédé de la Haggada Paris: chez Lévy, 1807.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières des jours de Rosch-haschana, à l’usage des Israélites du rit portugais, traduites de l’Hébreu avec des notes élémentaires déstinées à faciliter l’intelligence, par Mardochée Venture, nouvelle édition, première partie Paris: aux Bureaux des Archives Israélites, 1845.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières du jour de Kippour à l’usage des Israélites, tr. par M. Venture, nouvelle édition, deuxième partie Paris: aux Bureaux des Archives Israélites, 1845.
- Venture, Mardochée, Prières des Fêtes de Pessah, Sebouhot, et de Souccot Paris, 2d ed., Paris: Lazard-Lévy, 1845.
- Créhange, Alexandre, מנחה חדשה: סדר תפלת ישראל כמנהג ספרד נעתקה ללשון צרפת על ידי אלכסנדר בן ברוך קריהנש: Offrande nouvelle: prières des Israélites du rite espangol et portugais, traduction de A. ben Baurch Créhange Paris, 1855.
- Créhange, Alexandre, Erech Hatephiloth où Prières des Grandes Fêtes à l’usage des Israélites du Rite Séfarad. Kippour. Léon Kaan éditeur, traduction française de A. Créhange Paris: Librairie Durlacher, 1925.
- Créhange, Alexandre, מחזור ליום כפורים זכור לאברהם: Rituel de Yom Kippour, rite séfarade, traduction française des prières par A. Créhange, Seli’hot, introduction et règles concernant Roche Hachana 4th ed. Paris: Les éditions Colbo, 1984.
- Créhange, Alexandre, מחזור לראש השנה זכור לאברהם: Rituel de Roche HaChana, rite séfarade, traduction française des prières par A. Créhange, transcription en caractères latine des principaux passages du Rituel, introduction et règles concernant le Yom Kippour 2d ed. Paris: Les éditions Colbo, 1984.
- Créhange, Alexandre, Rituel de Roche HaChana, rite séfarade [ISNB 10 2853321711/ ISBN 13 9782853321716] Editions du Scèptre, Colbo, 2006.
- Créhange, Alexandre, Rituel de Yom Kippour, rite séfarade 3rd ed. [ISBN 10 285332172X/ ISBN 13 9782853321723] Editions du Scèptre, Colbo, 2006.
- Créhange, Alexandre, Rituel des Trois Fêtes, rite séfarade [ISBN 10 2853321746/ ISBN 13 9782853321747] Editions du Scèptre, Colbo, 2006.
- Menasseh ben Israel, Orden de Ros Asanah y Kipúr: Amsterdam 1630 (Spanish only)
- Seder ha-tefillot ke-minhag K"K Sefardim, with Dutch translation (S. Mulder): Amsterdam 1837
- Seder ha-mo'adim ke-minhag K"K Sefardim (festivals), with Dutch translation (S. Mulder): Amsterdam 1843
- Seder le-Rosh ha-Shanah ke-minhag K"K Sefardim (Rosh Hashanah), with Dutch translation (S. Mulder): Amsterdam 1849
- Seder le-Yom Kippur ke-minhag K"K Sefardim (Yom Kippur), with Dutch translation (S. Mulder): Amsterdam 1850
- Tefillat Kol Peh, ed. and tr. Ricardo: Amsterdam 1928, repr. 1950
English-speaking countries 
- Isaac Nieto, Orden de las Oraciones de Ros-Ashanah y Kipur, London 1740
- Nieto, Orden de las Oraciones Cotidianas, Ros Hodes Hanuca y Purim, London 1771
- A. Alexander, 6 vols, London 1771-77, including:
- The Liturgy According to the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in Hebrew and English, as Publicly Read in the Synagogue, and Used By All Their Families (vol 3)
- The tabernacle service which are publicly read in the synagogue. By the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. And used by all families (vol 4)
- The Festival service which are publicly read in the synagogue by the Spanish and Portuguese Jews and used by all families
- Evening and morning service of the begining (sic) of the year, which are publicly read in the synagogue by the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, and used by all families
- The fasts days service. Which are publickly read in the synagogue. By the Spanish and Portuguese Jews and used by all families (vol 6)
- The Order of Forms of Prayer (6 vols.), David Levi: London 1789–96, repr. 1810
- Forms of Prayer According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, D. A. de Sola, London 1836
- Siddur Sifte Tsaddikim, the Forms of Prayer According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Isaac Leeser, Philadelphia (6 vols.) 1837-8
- Forms of Prayer According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Abraham de Sola, Philadelphia 1878
- Book of Prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, London (5 vols.), Moses Gaster, 1901
- Book of Prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, London (5 vols.): Oxford (Oxford Univ. Press, Vivian Ridler), 5725/1965 (since reprinted)
- Book of Prayer: According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, David de Sola Pool, New York: Union of Sephardic Congregations, 1954 (later edition 1979)
- Gaon, Solomon, Minhath Shelomo: a commentary on the Book of prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews: New York 1990 (based on de Sola Pool edition)
Daily and festival prayers books, Congregation Sheraith Israel: New York. Published prayer books for the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation
Musical traditions 
- Adler, Israel: Musical life and traditions of the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam in the 18th century. (Yuval Monograph Series; v. 1.) Jerusalem: Magnes, 1974.
- Aguilar, Emanuel & De Sola, David A.:. טללי זמרה Sephardi melodies, being the traditional liturgical chants of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation London, London 1857. Second edition publ by the Society of Heshaim with the sanction of the Board of Elders of the Congregation, Oxford Univ. Press, 5691/1931.
- Kanter, Maxine Ribstein: “High Holy Day hymn melodies in the Spanish and Portuguese synagogues of London”, in Journal of Synagogue Music X (1980), No. 2, pp. 12–44
- Kramer, Leon & Guttmann, Oskar: Kol Shearit Yisrael: Synagogue Melodies Transcontinental Music Corporation, New York, 1942.
- Lopes Cardozo, Abraham: Sephardic songs of praise according to the Spanish-Portuguese tradition as sung in the synagogue and home. New York, 1987.
- Rodrigues Pereira, Martin: חָכְמַת שְׁלֹמֹה (‘Hochmat Shelomoh) Wisdom of Solomon: Torah cantillations according to the Spanish and Portuguese custom Tara Publications, 1994
- Seroussi, Edwin: Spanish-Portuguese synagogue music in nineteenth-century Reform sources from Hamburg: ancient tradition in the dawn of modernity. (Yuval Monograph Series; XI) Jerusalem: Magnes, 1996. ISSN 0334-3758
- Seroussi, Edwin: "Livorno: A Crossroads in the History of Sephardic Religious Music", from Horowitz and Orfali (ed.), The Mediterranean and the Jews: Society, Culture and Economy in Early Modern Times
- Swerling, Norman P.: Romemu-Exalt: the music of the Sephardic Jews of Curaçao. Tara Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-933676-79-4
- Musiques de la Synagogue de Bordeaux: Patrimoines Musicaux Des Juifs de France (Buda Musique 822742), 2003.
- Talele Zimrah - Singing Dew: The Florence-Leghorn Jewish Musical Tradition (Beth Hatefutsot) 2002.
- Choral Music of Congregation Shearith Israel, Congregation Shearith Israel, 2003.
- Traditional Music of Congregation Shearith Israel (Shearith Israel League) 3 CD's.
- Jewish Voices in the New World: Chants and Prayers from the American Colonial Era: Miliken Archive (Naxos) 2003
- Sephardic Songs of Praise: Abraham L. Cardozo (Tara Publications)
- The Western Sefardi Liturgical Tradition: Abraham Lopes Cardozo (The Jewish Music Research Center- Hebrew University) 2004
- A Sephardi Celebration The Choir of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews' Congregation, London, Maurice Martin, Adam Musikant (The Classical Recording Company)
- Kamti Lehallel: I Rise in Praise, Daniel Halfon (Beth Hatefutsot) 2007
Educational Institutions 
- Ets Haim Library (Amsterdam)
- The Judith Lady Montefiore College (rabbinic training programme in London)
- Naima Jewish Preparatory School (London)
- Society of Heshaim, London
- Bet Midrash Nidhe Israel (Dominican Republic)
- Daniel Halfon, Hazan of Spanish and Portuguese Liturgical Music
- Amsterdam Portuguese Chazzanut: Spanish and Portuguese Chazzanut & Minhagim (Customs) in the Esnoga
- Philadelphia: Mikveh Israel Music
- Sephardi Centre Music Fund, London
- Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Liturgical Music, London style, including Torah and Haftarah melodies, by David Silvera
- London Sephardi Music Recordings of the liturgical music of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of London, Rabbi Jonathan Cohen
- Liturgical Music of Shaar Hashamayim Hazzanut recordings, Rev. Halfon Benarroch
- London Sephardi Congregational Melodies
- Spanish and Portuguese Torah melody, London style: musical notation only (includes instructions for downloading musical notation font)
- Yede Abraham - Hazzanut in the Spanish and Portuguese tradition (mostly New York and Philadelphia)
- Taamim.org—S&P cantillation and Haftarah blessings on Taamim.org (The hazzan on this site sings beautifully, but his rendition of the S&P tradition has a slightly oriental tinge. Note also that the only recording of an S&P Haftarah itself on the site is Mattoth, ironically in the standard and not the special Three Weeks trope as appropriate. In addition, the Haftarah taamim do not reproduce all the special combinations as found in the music section of London's "Daily & Occasional" prayer book.)
Liturgical customs 
- Mikveh Israel Hazzanut—Detailed, comprehensive compendium of liturgical customs throughout the year, including tunes and readings, for the Philadelphia and New York branches of the tradition.
- Sephardic Jews in Jamaica
- Site of Hakham Yaaqob haLevi de Oliveira s"t, Israel
- SandPCentral; An Information Hub for Spanish & Portuguese Jewish Communities