Pepe Mel, ex football player and actual coach writes a new novel

Known in the sports field for his long professional career, Mel is a rare insider in his profession when combining his work with writing; “The Sephardic key” (La llave Sefardí)

is the fourth book published.

A book whose background reflects the author’s concern for any form of fanaticism, whatever it may be, and which he captures through a story of intrigue, in which such notable characters as the painter Velázquez are part of an intricate puzzle, whose end It will not leave the reader indifferent.

A key carried by a Jew expelled from Spain – Samuel Ha Levi -, will pass from generation to generation and will coexist alongside their owners what will happen to them throughout their different lives.

On the other hand, the obligation to return to Sepharad will also be a heavy burden that the descendants of Samuel’s saga will have to live with.

This fact will be present in the passing of time and will take the different protagonists to periods and places as disparate as the archdeacon Ferran Martínez’s Sevilla, to the time of the Holy Inquisition, to Velázquez’s Madrid, to Nazi Germany and its Holocaust, to the 11-M and the dates of the Jihadist attacks in Madrid.

In short, The Sephardic Key is a book that aims to stir the conscience about fanaticism that uses literary resources that every novel must have to engage the reader with a suggestive story of suspense, which reveals facts as worrisome as the Palestinian and Jewish problem.

José Mel Pérez was born in Madrid on February 28, 1963, he was a professional footballer for many years. He finished his playing career in the French team of Angers, and has trained in the Premier League in West Brombich Albion.

Established in Seville for years for his close relationship with Real Betis Balompié, he is currently a football coach. Passionate about reading, history and archeology, he is a tireless traveler in search of stories that he can take to his books.

El Mentiroso (2011), El Camino al mas allá (2013) and La Prueba (2016) are his first three novels. Now he returns with an exciting story: The Sephardic Key.

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European Days of The Jewish Culture in Spain

sephardic days 2018This has been announced by the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters, which has advanced that this year the activities will revolve around ‘storytelling’, which serves as a tool for the dissemination of the Jewish historical heritage in Europe.

Specifically, in Barcelona will take place on September 2nd will be an open day of the Center MUHBA El Call and the Domus de Sant Honorat; while in Calahorra (La Rioja), on Saturday 8 will be inaugurated the exhibition ‘Shalom! Sepharad ‘and on Sunday 23rd, there will be a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter and the Cathedral, to contemplate its Sephardic documentary heritage; Hebrew and Arabic writing workshops; the concert ‘The Spain of the three cultures’; and a dinner tasting skewers in the Sephardic style.

On the other hand, Cáceres will host a guided visit to the New and Old Jewish quarters of the city on September 2. It will be an open day of various enclaves related to the Jewish heritage (the Island Palace, the Interpretation Center of the Bujaco Tower, the tourist center Baluarte de los Pozos and the Center for the Dissemination of Holy Week), and two exhibitions (‘Encuentro en Sefarad: from light to secret’ and ‘Jewish Quarters in Spain and Portugal’) can be visited at the Palace of the Island and the Baluarte de los Pozos, respectively.

Córdoba celebrates the VI Day in the Sephardic Autumn program, which will take place from September 1 to 23. This new edition will reflect the theme of the Storytelling, the Oral Narrative, and among the more than fifty activities scheduled, highlight the days of open doors on day 2 of the Al-Andalus Alive Museum, the Synagogue, the Archaeological Museum and the House de las Cabezas or the photographic exhibition Armonías de Azul y Ocre: Ritmo Vital and Sephardic Festival, which can be visited from September 1 to 23 and from Monday to Friday at the Rey Heredia Cultural Space.

Also, in Estella (Navarra) throughout the weekend you can visit the exhibition ‘Refranero popular Sephardic’ in the courtyard of the House of Culture Fray Diego de Estella and on Sunday September 2 will take place the guided tour ‘Visiting the aljamas’ .

SEPHARDY GASTRONOMIC DAYS

In Jaen, gastronomy will be one of the protagonists of the Days, which will last between September 1 and 9, with the celebration at the Taberna Pilar del Arrabalejo and the Parador de Jaén of the Sephardic Gastronomic Days.

Also in the capital Jaén, on September 2 there will be a guided tour of the Jewish Jaén; On the 6th at 8:00 pm, the conference ‘Telling stories: legends and traditions of the Judería de Jaén’ will take place at the Mudéjar Hall of the Municipal Palace of Culture, and the same location will host on Friday 7 at 9:00 pm the screening of the documentary ‘The last Sephardi’. On Saturday 8, at 9:00 pm, the Tourdion Chamber Choir will give the concert ‘Sefarad en el corazón’, in the Patio of the Municipal Palace of Culture.

From Friday 31 to Sunday 2, at the Jardines del Cid in the city of León there will be workshops on medieval games, as well as a theatrical tour of the Jewish Quarter, which will depart every day from the Plaza de San Martín. In the Palacio del Conde Luna, the Teatro Abierto will perform the Desiguales work on Friday the 31st at 8:00 pm, and Milo Ke Mandarini will offer a concert on Saturday the 1st at 8:30 pm.

In Lucena (Córdoba), in addition to the exhibition ‘Sayings in ladino’ that can be seen in different locations in the city – Castillo del Moral, Municipal Public Library, Palace of the Counts of Santa Ana and Casa de los Mora – there is activities that will occupy the whole month of September.

In Monforte de Lemos (Lugo), on September 2 there will be guided tours to the Jewish quarter of the town, which will depart at 11.30 and 6.00 pm from the Municipal Tourism Office (in the Rúa Comercio), and a concert of traditional music Iberian and Sephardic by Paco Díez (September 2 at 8 pm at the House of Culture Poeta Lois Pereiro).

In Oviedo (Asturias), the Beit Emunáh Synagogue (Fontán Street, 11), will open its doors on the 2nd to host an exhibition of books and a session of Jewish storytellers (from 12 to 14 hours), in addition to the exhibition of the ” Sephardic sayings “on the balconies of the Casina throughout the weekend.

Tarazona (Zaragoza), meanwhile, will organize a guided tour of its Jewish quarter, which will start at the Tourism Office of the town on Sunday 2 at 10.30.

In Segovia, on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 (1:00 pm) there will be the guided tour ‘Meet the Jewish Quarter’ through the streets of the Jewish quarter, evoking the Jewish legacy of the city through the visit of the Judería Educational Center and of the San Andrés Gate.

In the afternoon, at 5:00 pm, there will be a tour ‘From the synagogue to the cemetery’, an emotional itinerary recalling the daily life of the Segovian Jews. On Sunday, September 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Damascening: an ancient technic still alive in Toledo

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Damascening is the art of inlaying different metals into one another—typically, gold or silver into a darkly oxidized steel background—to produce intricate patterns similar to niello. The English term comes from a perceived resemblance to the rich tapestry patterns of damask silk.

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The technique has a long history in Japan, where it was used to decorate katana fittings, particularly tsuba. Known as zougan(象嵌) in Japanese, it has developed its own subset of terms to describe the particular patterns, although “shippou-zougan” is an enamelling technique which most Westerners would consider closer to champlevé.

Damascened-inlay jewelry, especially of Japanese origin, is sometimes referred to as shakudo from the use of that alloy as the dark background.

The technique of niello is also famously attested in prehistoric Greece. The earliest occurrence of damascening in the Aegean, from the Shaft Graves of Mycenae, dates to the latest Middle Bronze Age/Middle Helladic IIIB period (dagger Nu-304). Ultimately of Near Eastern provenance, the technique of inlaying silver/gold was adapted to suit Aegean taste and style.

Cities that are known for a rich history in Damascening where the technique is still practiced are Malaysia, Indonesia, Toledo, SpainEibarBasque Country and Kyoto, Japan.

Damascene in Toledo

Damascene ware — damasquinado or damasquino, in Spanish — is the art of decorating steel with threads of gold and silver. Toledo developed a very important industry around this craft, also known as Toledo Gold. The art of damascene passed from generation to generation within the same family for centuries, and became a hallmark of this beautiful city. Toledo supplies many shops in Spain, where the damascene pieces are sold as souvenirs.

During the last few decades the production of damascene has moved away from a purely handmade process, and many machine-made damascened items — some made not of blackened steel, but of cheap tin — have flooded the market. Some of these reproductions are “so expertly produced that even knowledgeable Toledeans admit the difficulty of recognizing them as such.”[1] However, many shops still offer handcrafted damascened work following the tradition of ancient times, and it is possible to see artisans at work creating these painstaking and time-consuming works of art.

Damascene work has kept to traditional designs with few changes over the years, but there are a few artists who design innovative pieces of jewelry, which are sold in some of the shops of the city (not in all). Nowadays you can find also craftsmen who create high quality pieces, commissioned by private customers or collectors.

For many years the damascene style of jewelry in Toledo was relatively unknown even to the citizens of Toledo, because the craft shops are located in the historic center of the city, a tourist area quite remote from the daily life of the residents of the city.

The movement for damascene style renewal comes from the descendants of ancient craftsmen, who innovate with youthful designs. The two pendants shown at left in gold and silver, one with Swarovski crystals, are examples of the newer handmade style.