Cordoba, Jewish Communities

“Casa de Sefarad” in Cordoba: Oasis in the desert

casa-de-sefarad-cordobaSebastián de la Obra is the director of the Casa de Sefarad, a private cultural and museum center created in Cordoba in 2006. De la Obra emphasizes that “it is a cultural and non-religious center that has nothing to do with religion , But with memory.
– What does the House of Sepharad intend?
– It is a private cultural center and museum, independent and free, without a single public resource.
– What is it about?
– It is an exercise in recovering the memory of the Hispanic Jews, known as Sephardic.
– Why do you think you should visit it?
-For the same as the Fernandine churches, Medina Azahara, the Mosque, the Axerquía or the Judería, because it is part of the heritage of Cordoba.
– What difficulties does the Spanish Jewish tradition have?
– Especially that is very difficult to identify. Faced with the huge, rich and beautiful Hispanic Christian heritage and the huge, fantastic and spectacular Hispanic Muslim heritage, that of the Jewish tradition is neither seen nor touched. There are no great monuments, there is no Alhambra, a Medina Azahara or a Cathedral of Burgos. That difficulty is a challenge. We like the challenges and what we do is develop a work, on the one hand research and, on the other, didactic, to make known what is not seen with the naked eye.
-When these dates arrive it celebrates a concrete activity related to the Holocaust. What have you prepared this year?
-The exhibition is entitled The Biblioclastia: the destruction of books. The origin comes from a very beautiful and alert phrase of the German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, who in 1817 sees young people who carry books to a castle and throw them on the ground and burn them. He left a sentence that said, “This is just the prelude. Where books are burned they will end up burning people. ” That phrase is the statement of our exposition, where we show, through texts, plates, silk banners, books, documents and manuscripts the history of the destruction of books. Where books and libraries are burned they end up burning people. We talk about the characters who burn books, but also those who save books.
– Why this love to the culture?
– The pursuit of diversity and difference is a common note in the history of mankind. The Jewish tradition, of the various Judaisms in the world, the Spanish Jewish Sephardic or the Ashkenazi of central Europe, there has always been a great love for what the cultural element means. It is a people literate for many centuries by nomadism. The fact of being always in a position to flee makes the effort that is made cultural so that you can move anywhere on the planet.
– Do you think the paper will disappear to communicate?
– Never. Mankind has written about silk, bamboo sheets, clay, cloth, papyrus, parchment and paper. Now we have a digital culture but the paper is not going to disappear. Moreover, there is a kind of historical loop in which the scent of paper from a specific journal or book becomes an appreciated object again. What is causing the disappearance is the culture of reading. There are less and fewer people who read, but those who do are much more.
– How do you see Cordoba?
It’s an eminently cultural city. Another thing is that we are educated, which is different. We have a spectacular architectural heritage. A unique baroque in Andalusia. We have an intangible trace of the Jewish tradition that is there. This city is culture. We must believe it.

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