Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century

Farrar. Nov. 2019. 336p. illus. maps. notes. ISBN 9780374185428. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780374716158. HIST
True to its title, this book by Stein (Maurice Amado Endowed Chair in Sephardic Studies, & Sady and Ludwig Kahn Director, Alan D. Levy Ctr. for Jewish Studies, Univ. of California Los Angeles) delivers a tour de force tracing one family’s history, beginning in Ottoman Turkey, and the lives of their descendants across the world in the present day. The Levys were a prominent clan in Salonica, Greece, and as publishers and editors, they had firsthand views of events in the Ottoman Empire. Stein relies on personal family narratives and correspondence to tell the story of nearly three dozen relatives from the late 19th through the early 21st century. The result is a small window into the world of Sephardic Jewish history along with the changes and turmoil world events had thrust upon them. The fate of history, the redrawing of nations’ borders, and the Holocaust force the family to escape to other parts of the world, including India, Israel, the United States, South Africa, and South America.
VERDICT A moving, wonderfully written history of a fascinating family that will attract readers of history and those interested in Judaic studies. Highly recommended.
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