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Cover Art
Author Perera, Victor, 1934-

Title The cross and the pear tree : a Sephardic journey / Victor Perera.

Published New York : Knopf, : distributed by Random House, [1995]


Location Call No. Status
 UniM Bail  929.2089924 PERE    AVAILABLE
Edition 1st ed.
Physical description 282 pages : : portraits ; 24 cm
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages [263]-271) and index.
Summary Tracing the dramatic lives, through 500 years, of the old and distinguished Sephardic Jewish family from whom he is descended, Victor Perera brilliantly re-creates the history not only of his own people but of an entire culture. The story he tells begins in Spain in the fifteenth century, when the Sephardim are offered a choice of conversion, exile or death. It is the story of a richly flourishing tradition - intellectual, religious, worldly and spiritual - interrupted by massively cruel events; a story of persecution, escape and renewal, carrying us from the Iberian Peninsula across Europe to the Holy Land and Central America. And the Pere(i)ras whose lives we enter are both fascinating in themselves and emblematic of the Sephardic diaspora created by the Inquisition and the Expulsion - some of them, under threat of torture and execution, capitulating to the Cross or becoming Marranos, crypto-Jews who practiced their ancestral religion in secret; others remaining loyal to the pear tree that became their symbol and crest. Among the Marranos: Ana Pereira, a merchant's daughter, a Sephardic convert in Portugal who, at age fifteen, was sentenced to wear penitential raiment and undergo spiritual penances in prison, where, under torture, she incriminated fifteen of her close relations. Among the reclaimed: the fabulously wealthy magnate and author Abraham Israel Pereira, who participated in the excommunication of philosopher Baruch Spinoza; and the beautiful Maria Nunes, who was abducted to Shakespeare's England, and rejected the marriage proposal of a duke and Queen Elizabeth's entreaties on his behalf, marrying instead a cousin in Amsterdam's first Jewish wedding. In nineteenth-centuryFrance we follow the meteoric rise of the brothers Emile and Isaac Pereire, who founded the French railroads and the Credit Mobilier banking system. Over the centuries, the stories of Pereras in all walks of life - among them rabbis and Kabbalistic scholars in the Holy Land - unfold. Finally it is Victor Perera's own father and the rigorous patriarchal tradition of his father's Jerusalem in the last days of the Ottoman Empire that dominate this chronicle, compelling the author to search out the life of the grandfather he never knew, and ultimately to recover his own Jewish identity and liberate himself from a generations-old family curse. He recounts his quest in a book that richly brings alive the too-little-known Sephardic culture in all its abundance, profundity, color and compelling particularity.
Subject Pereira family.
Sephardim -- History.
Jews -- Genealogy.
ISBN 0394583515