Judeo-Arabic Culture in Al Andalus
I am disappointed that the writer of the article, "With Jewish Roots Now Prized..."did not make at least passing reference to medieval Jewish Spain's indebtedness to and identification with its Berber and Islamic cultural, folkloric, and linguistic origins. Even the picture that accompanies the article with its interior of the Tránsito Synogogue is unmistakably in the style of the architecture of the Islamic Nasrid dynasty of Granada with its muqarnas dome and elaborate geometric patterns. The Jewish culture, or more properly the Judeo Arabic culture, that flourished from the late eighth century until the late 13th century in Al Andalus(modern-day Spain) used the Arabic language as its principle means of communication. Its scholarly output was in Arabic and not Hebrew. In fact medieval Christians tended to identify Andalusian Jews and Muslims as members of the same cultural group. While it is true as the author writes, "...that Hebrew was reborn in Spain as a language suitable not just for prayer and liturgy but for poetry and other secular persuits...", it is likewise true that Arab grammarians and Arab literary forms induced such influential Andalusian Jews as Hasdai ibn Shaprut to pursue the renewal of interest in the Hebrew language and the development of new forms of syncretic poetry. By this omission of the intertwining of the two semitic languages and cultures in Al Andalus, the author missed a unique opportunity to suggest modern parallels of tolerance.