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Sephardi Jews, therefore, encompass Jews descended from those Jews who left the Iberian Peninsula as Jews by the expiration of the respective decreed deadlines.
In other languages and scripts, "Sephardi" may be translated as plural Hebrew: Safārdiyyūn.Early Modern Spanish and Early Modern Portuguese, including in a mixture of the two was traditionally spoken or used liturgically by the ex-converso Western Sephardim, taken with them during their later migration out of Iberia between the 16th and 18th centuries as conversos, after which they reverted to Judaism.Modern Spanish and Modern Portuguese varieties, traditionally spoken by the Sephardic Bnei Anusim of Iberia and Ibero-America, including some recent returnees to Judaism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.More broadly, the term Sephardim has today also come sometimes to refer to traditionally Eastern Jewish communities of West Asia and beyond who, although not having genealogical roots in the Jewish communities of Iberia, have adopted a Sephardic style of liturgy and Sephardic law and customs imparted to them by the Iberian Jewish exiles over the course of the last few centuries.This article deals with Sephardim within the narrower ethnic definition.Historically, the vernacular languages of Sephardim and their descendants have been variants of either Spanish or Portuguese, though other tongues had been adopted and adapted throughout their history.
The historical forms of Spanish or Portuguese that differing Sephardic communities spoke communally was determined by the date of their departure from Iberia, and their condition of departure as Jews or New Christians.
A nusach is defined by a liturgical tradition's choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers. The term Nusach Sefard or Nusach Sfarad does not refer to the liturgy generally recited by Sephardim proper or even Sephardi in a broader sense, but rather to an alternative Eastern European liturgy used by many Hasidim who are in fact Ashkenazi.
Additionally, Ethiopian Jews, whose branch of practiced Judaism is known as Haymanot, have recently come under the umbrella of Israel's already broad Sephardic Chief Rabbinate.
In the narrower ethnic definition, a Sephardi Jew is a Jew descended from the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century, immediately prior to the issuance of the Alhambra Decree of 1492 by order of the Catholic Monarchs in Spain, and the decree of 1496 in Portugal by order of King Manuel I.
In Hebrew, the term "Sephardim Tehorim" (ספרדים טהורים, literally "Pure Sephardim", in Israeli initials slang ס"ט "Samekh Tet") has in recent times come to be used in some quarters to distinguish Sephardim proper "who trace their lineage back to the Iberian/Spanish population" from Sephardim in the broader religious sense.
The divisions among Sephardim and their descendants today are largely a result of the consequences of the Royal edicts of expulsion.