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Jewish migration, medieval era

Migration A–Z


  1. Michael Toch

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm328

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Toch, M. 2013. Jewish migration, medieval era. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


In the Middle Ages (500–1500 ce) as in Antiquity and in the modern age, the history of the Jewish people was to a large degree shaped by migration (see DellaPergola 1997, for an overview). Each period knew different patterns of migration and each related to this existential condition in contrasting ways, be it as diaspora, the Greek word usually used for voluntary dispersion, or as Galut (“exile” in Hebrew) for forced scattering. The period covered here saw the foundation by migration of the three major divisions that make up the Jewish people today: Ashkenazim of Central and Eastern European extraction; Sephardim of Spanish/Portuguese origin and later residents of the Ottoman empire from the Balkans to North Africa; and an Oriental Jewry encompassing both Middle Eastern and North African communities. There are also groupings whose arrival predates the Middle Ages: parts of Italian Jewry, the Yemenites, the Jews of the Caucasus area; and numerically and culturally dominant into the Middle Ages, the Jewish populations throughout the Middle East, most notably in Israel/Palestine, Babylonia (Iraq), and Egypt.


  • archaeology;
  • cultural diversity;
  • anti-Semitism;
  • economics;
  • rights