A Nice View of Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Gate)

2019-09-22 14.41.51The Alcala Gate (La Puerta del Alcalá) is one of the most visited and iconic monuments in Madrid. Located in Plaza de la Independencia and just in front of the main entrance to Parque del Retiro (Retiro Park), this monument is the remaining of the Walls around city during the Kingdom of Felipe IV (Phillip IV) from 1625 to 1868. These were not defensive walls, but essentially served for fiscal and surveillance purposes: to control the access of goods to the city, ensure the collection of taxes, and to monitor who went in and out of Madrid. The materials used for construction were brick, mortar and compacted earth. From the arquitechtonical point of view it has a very singular construction as both sides are different.

It is always a special spot , full packed of tourists and locals trying to get a nice shot, and yesterday I was able to catch this image and wanted to share with you all.

Are you still thinking about visiting Madrid, Toledo and other cities? Come on, visit and you will be able to tell by yourself that you have visited one of teh most amzing cities in Europe!!


First Public Kaddish since 1412 in the Toledo Major Synagogue

Achinoam Nini (Noa)singing inside the Major Synagogue

“The most beautiful and grandiose of the synagogues that the Jews had in Spain”

Amador de los Ríos. Historian

There is no doubt that the past 11 December 2018 (3 Tevet 5779) will be remembered as a milestone in the relations between the Catholic Church of Spain and the Jewish Community of this country.

In an intimate and welcoming ceremony, a representative the Archbishop of Toledo addressed the audience in a very affectionate and open tone, speaking of this ancient Greater Synagogue of Toledo.

David Hatchwell, as President of the HispanoJudia Foundation, responded in other words with a message of Peace and Concord.
The event was closed by the famous Israeli singer Noa (Achinoam Nini), who delighted the attendees with 3 magnificent performances that gave proof, not only of his excellence as a singer, but of the powerful acoustic capacity of the Major Synagogue of Toledo.

Rabbi Moshe Bendahan, Spain Chief Rebbi, recited a Psalm of King David Book and a Kaddish, Jewish prayer for the Memory of those who are not alive, and translated into Spanish. This was a magical moment that had not taken place in this Synagogue since 1412.

Among those attending this ceremony were Milagros Tolón, Mayoress of Toledo, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, former Minister of Justice and Vice President of the Hispanic Jewish Foundation, Stuart Weitzman, member of the Jewish Hispanic Foundation and Javier Cremades, founding partner of the Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo Lawyers.

Hilula of Baba Sali at Or Hayeladim

Archivo 21-1-18 18 21 352018-01-20 22.57.24Last Saturday evening, motsae shabbat, the congregation Or Hayeladim of Madrid, commemorated the Hilula of Baba Sali.

The celebration stood with members of this congregation and some others in Madrid, who were able to enjoy about a tasty dinner and a surprise performance of the Tuna(university Music Band) of the Alcala de Henares University(Madrid).


The #Angel of El Cairo: Angel Sagaz

Spain flag press

The #Spanish government saved 1,500 Egyptian Jews after the Six Day War. Made well known, but little publicized, it deserves a memorial on the fiftieth anniversary of this crucial Arab Israeli contest.

At the outbreak of hostilities (June 1967), Spain was discreetly required from various Jewish organizations to mediate for the Hebrews of belligerent Arab nations. The move made sense: to go to a country close to the Muslim and that did not recognize the State of Israel, but contrary to the Soviet Union and in which the situation of the Jews evolved favorably.

Thus, Franco temporized. And while declaring himself in favor of the Arab position and the return of the Palestinian refugees, he instructed his embassies in the area to assist the Jews who demanded protection from them, as well as providing them with documentation to expatriate upon request. Solidarity not restricted to Spanish Jews, as in the 1956 Suez conflict, but open to any Israelite.

A strictly humanitarian aid, which would be agreed with the local authorities. Spain did not alter its policy. And the refugees would use it as a transit point, with a visa for two years and with the commitment not to travel to Israel immediately.

The operation was especially successful in Egypt, the most affected place of this crisis. Since President Nasser, the leader of Pan-Arabism, was leading the offensive against Israel. But the Spanish ambassador in Cairo, Angel Sagaz, honored his name and surname.

Sagaz succeeded in improving the conditions of many Jewish returnees, and permission to leave the country of all those who requested it; Hundreds of these, after being released from prison thanks to their efforts.

More than six hundred and fifteen Jewish families left Egypt. Bureaucracy and transport were initially financed by Spain. And when Sagaz saw that the expatriates were forced to discard even their jewels, he offered the embassy as a depository of personal effects, then invoiced them by diplomatic pouch.

Even some local synagogue objects were sent to Madrid with the help of the embassy; Although Sagaz declined the request to take refuge of certain pieces of singular historical value, to avoid a patrimonial litigation with the Egyptian government.

The gesture was grateful for Jewish organizations around the world, and recognized by the US administration. And although the intervention had to be reserved, it was glossed in the main headlines of the Yankee press; Whose echo picked up in Spain the ABC.

It was not the first time that the Jews were aided by the Franco regime. That after the independence of Morocco it even favored the Zionist cause unexpectedly through Operation Yakhin, by which 25,000 Moroccan Hebrew were received in Spain way of Israel.

History, as we see, has its folds. Same as the fifty years of headlines who still carry those six days of war. Today Israel celebrates its resounding victory, and with it the “50th Anniversary of the Liberation and Reunification of Jerusalem”. But they know full well that this was a triumph as imperative as it was poisoned.

In 1967, the Israelites moved from persecuted people to an imperialist state, with a million pariahs in their new territories. This made military success a political stigma. So reasonable is the euphoric memorial documentary In Our Hands, like the self-critical Censored Voices of two years ago.

Reasonable would also be a good film about Sagaz, Angel of Cairo; Although his help started from the Franco regime. Would it breach the Law of Historical Memory? Let us listen, meanwhile, to the interview with historian Isidro González on the subject. And let’s read the monograph by Professor Raanan Rein. Or to Jacobo Israel Garzón, who in 2005 signed:

“As in the case of the transit of Moroccan Jews through Spain, it is necessary to study in detail the important role played by the Spanish Government in improving the situation of Jews in the Arab countries. Within the context of the Franco regime’s controversial relations with the Jews over forty years, the role of the Spanish Government in saving or improving the living conditions of Jews in Egypt, Iraq or Libya is a positive and demonstrable”.

And if, since the Spanish dictatorship, more could be done, the Western democracies did less to their shame. Something of what still must have hurt, as Ortega bravely grieved in 1910 for not having defended the old Jewish watchmaker on that train to Berlin.

Anti-Semitism, Ortega recalls, is a serious scourge of history. Because everything, in fact, has the right to be what it is: the Jew with his Bible, the Moor with his Koran, we are something else and even the Syrian refugees who embarrass us today with his ordeal. Even Spain has the right to be what it is. let’s have #Hatikvah.


Panama: eight Sephardi Jews receive the Spanish Nationality

Embajada-de-España-en-Panamá21517Spain flag pressThe ceremony “is an act of historical reparation” with the Sephardi who suffered “the intolerance that was then not only in Spain,” said the Spanish ambassador in Panama, Ramon Santos.

On June 24, 2015, the Congress of Deputies approved Law 12/2015 granting Spanish nationality to those Sephardic people who so request without renouncing their other nationality and without the requirement to reside in Spain.

“Sepharad is the Hebrew word with which it designates Spain and Sephardim are those Jews expelled from Spain 500 years ago who formed communities in North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Portugal and many of which were distributed throughout America “The diplomat recalled.

Panama has one of the most important and influential Hebrew communities on the continent. With the exception of Israel, Panama is the only country in the world that has had two Jewish presidents, Max Delvalle Levy-Maduro (1967) and his nephew Eric Arturo Delvalle (1985-1989).

According to the Central Council of Hebrew Community of Panama, the presence of Jews in Panama dates back to the 15th century when the Catholic Kings expelled all those who did not want to convert to Christianity, but it was intensified 150 years ago with the Californian gold fever and The construction of the canal.

85% of the Jews living in Panama are Sephardic, unlike other Latin American countries where the community is mostly Ashkenazi.


History of the #Jewish Quarter of #Castelló

castello_dEmpuriesThis year marks the 525th anniversary of the expulsion of the more than twenty-five Jewish families who lived in Castelló in the 15th century. The lawyer Carmen Félix Roig reviews this historical epoch and highlights the “civism” and “respect” with which the Castellonians treated the Jewish people.
This year marks the 535th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews in Castelló where, unlike the rest of Spain, they were treated with “civism” and “respect”. The lawyer Carmen Félix Roig makes a tour of this historic stage of the city in which the Castellonians gave a “wonderful lesson.”

Castelló was constituted in aljama from 1306 under the jurisdiction of the justice, as much in civil as in criminal that was established between Jews and Christians. The Jewish quarter was settled on Calle Caballeros and Calle Mealla. The main tax was the “bribe” and had its own cemetery since 1320, located in what is now the Clavé square. “It seems that there is already a Jewish population since the descent of the population Castellon to the plain,” says the lawyer. Thus, in 1371, the Jews installed in Castelló own synagogue, houses, lands and practice the professions of weavers and albarderos. “Despite all its prerogatives, there were always frictions between the royal officials and the Jews,” says the lawyer.

In the summer of 1391 the persecutions against the Jews that began in Seville and that ran like the powder until the July 9 occurred the sacking of the Jewish Quarter of Valencia. However, Roig points out that in Castelló “there was no harm”. “The ‘jurats’ met on 14 July agreeing to defend the Jews in both their persons and their property. We must highlight the civility and respect of the Christian Castellans giving a wonderful lesson. Even so there were conversions and the aljama dissolved, but there were still Jews, “adds the lawyer.

In 1419, King Alfonso the Magnanimous absolved the Jewish aljamas and in their dominions and it exempts to them to dress and to carry badges Jewish by the ways not to be attacked. It also exempts them from dressing the “roda” in the cities “which was very humiliating” and protects them “from all possible abuses”. In addition, “the court of Castelló and the jurats are ordered to allocate a place as wide as possible so that the Jews may live and be able to form their aljama again.”

In 1432 the Jews of Castelló buy a house for the synagogue. Among their privileges they had their own butchery “since they could only eat the meat that the own slaughterer arranged, thereby paying an amount to the king for” fatigue. ” In Spain they had the privilege of collecting taxes by concession of certain municipalities and making loans with interest, “which was forbidden for Christians and Muslims, because it was considered immoral.” “This caused some animosity toward the Jews,” adds the lawyer.

On March 31, 1492, the General Edict of Expulsion was written by the Catholic Monarchs. “All the processes and debts are resolved and more than 25 Jewish families are expelled from Castelló, ending all the Jewish aljama of the city,” he concludes.


Spain aided to thousands of Jews to save their lives

ESPANA-AYUDO-JUDIOS-CLANDESTINA-MELILLA_EDIIMA20170409_0114_4There was a few years ago, when the clandestine passage to the land promised through Melilla was consented by Spain, instead of curbing it with a fence, because then what it was about was to help those fleeing from neighboring Morocco : An exodus of at least 5,000 Jews.

A story that until recently was almost unknown even in Melilla itself, as told to Efe the president of the Socio-Cultural Association “Mem Guímel”, Mordejay Guahnich, and the historian who coordinates the Sephardic Project in Melilla (Sefamel), Maria Elena Fernández.

Spain allowed some 250,000 Jews to flee clandestinely from Morocco through Ceuta and Melilla in the middle of the last century.

“Something we have uncovered now to make it known” in Melilla, explains the president of this association on Sephardic Jewish culture.

The regime of Franco was little friend of the newly created State of Israel, but also did not see anything well to Morocco after its independence of Spain and France, reason why it did not persecute these Jews, whom in Ceuta they were even applauded to them when they arrived .

But in Melilla, the other Spanish city in North Africa, “it was a very quiet step” and not even the Jews of the city “knew they had arrived,” explains Mordejay Guahnich.

“That clandestine passage for Melilla was totally secret”, he emphasizes.

The Moroccan Jews arrived at night and on the following day departed for Gibraltar, by boat mainly, from there to continue their journey to Marseilles (France) and finally to the Israeli port of Haifa.

The dates of that exodus and the names of its protagonists are recorded in military archives in Melilla, where “Mem Guímel” has been working, looking at about a hundred declassified documents, although now many have been re-classified.

Through them he has discovered that there were at least 5,000 who passed through the city.

The documents themselves, although detailing names and dates, qualify this step of clandestine, underlines Fernandez.

The historian remembers that as now with the subsahariana immigration on the fence, also then “the pressure was very much” in the border.

Only at that time there was a kind of “tacit agreement” and instead of impeding the passage, the security forces allowed.

“Possibly we did not bother because they were not going to stay here,” he says, and even in those documents there are testimonies of thanking the support of the Civil Guard.

At the beginning, around 1955, Morocco let them leave with a passport, but then realizes that it is losing a lot of people and decides to cut off that migratory flow “of people who went on vacation and did not return”, comments the researcher.

He stops giving passports and it is the Mosad, one of the Israeli secret services, that comes to the rescue of the Hebrews who want to leave at all costs.

They left behind pots on the fire, pretending that they had not left their houses, but in fact they had left alone with what was left in a suitcase.

Other families were divided not to leave all together and not to raise suspicions.

They arrived in groups of 30 to 40 from Casablanca, Tangier or Fez the majority, traveling hundreds of kilometers in buses that left them near Melilla “with great danger, because to be in those moments stopped in Morocco it was equivalent to him to spend several years of jail” , Reveals the historian.

They said they came to weddings, religious holidays or to visit relatives, in a drip that from 1956 to 1962 saw at least 5,000 per Melilla.

“In Melilla there were none left, they spent 24 hours sparingly,” in Fernandez’s words, because their goal was Israel, although afterwards life would take them to some even to America.

“Mem Guímel” has contacted them in Israel, but others have found them in Panama, Venezuela or Argentina.

A misfortune had to come, the tragic sinking of Price in 1961, one of the ships fleeing from Melilla, to break the news of this irregular immigration and unleash the wrath of Morocco, with the consequent conflict with Spain for consenting to it .

The Price is still not clear and that is why Semafel is still investigating his story, as well as the thousands of Jews who once had a pleasant step in Melilla to their dreams.

The first Harbour in Spain with Kosher and Hallal Certificate: Huelva

puerto de huelvaThe Port of Huelva has become the first in Spain to possess the Kosher and Halal certificate which accredits to the Jewish and Muslim communities, respectively, that it is adequate to guarantee the conditions demanded in the handling of products.
Javier Barrero, the president of the Port of Huelva, says it is a very important step. And is that the port Huelva is put at the level of others as the one of Amsterdam or Rotterdam and counts from now with the certificates that guarantee that the Jewish and Arab products will be treated correctly in the port facilities. It guarantees respect for religious rituals and opens the door to markets such as the American and the Arab world.

At least 25%of Spanish citizens have Jewish origin

Mario Sabán.

“I am often asked if you can be Jewish in Spain. Of course, yes, without any difficulty.” This is expressed by Mario Javier Sabán, PhD in Philosophy and Anthropology and president of the Jewish cultural network Tarbut Sefarad, founded in Lleida, where he lives. He was born in Buenos Aires in 1966, but is nationalized Spanish. He is a Sephardic, a descendant of the Hebrews expelled in 1492. “My father was born in Smyrna, Turkey, there were 80,000 Jews and they all left.

How many Jews are there in Spain?
Today there will be about 30,000 but it is very difficult to calculate how many are descendants. There are no Spaniards without Jewish origins, almost all have some. At least about 25 percent, 10 million.
According to his calculations, how many Jews had to go in 1492?
The figures vary between 120,000 and 200,000. How many were there? Most probably became, nobody thought that the Inquisition would last 300 years, many became thinking that the policy would change. There were even Juderia where all became Christians. And it was not the first time. Those of 1492 increased the ranks of those who had already done so in 1391 and 1412. Perhaps there were 120,000 converts. In all, there would be half a million Jews, but the whole truth escapes us.
Many concealed their origins.
Yes, for fear of the Inquisition. Blood cleaning certificates were purchased. We know that in Toledo and Burgos were 40 percent of the population: the more Catholic a population, the more suspicious that there are converts because families tried to hide their origins. The parents of Teresa de Jesús or the mother of Fray Luis de León were Hebrews. In century XVI is given with the grandchildren of the conversos the last cultural element Jewish. Cervantes himself would have a Jewish imprint, but then who did not? The footprint is very large and now it is well valued.
Do you think there are still negative connotations?
No, I have never felt antisemitism in Spain, there are unintended phrases like ‘Judaized’, like ‘Sadduca trap’ or ‘You are a Pharisee’, but who says it does so without perceiving its meaning. The problem is ignorance: rather than negative predisposition, there are anti-Israel media, with negative information that affects the Jewish subject.
Is there hate and love between Spain and the Jews?
I think so. They often ask me out, people of Sephardic origin, if you can live as a Jew in Spain, and tell them of course, without problems. Because the memory they had is that they were expelled, but at the same time they kept the ladino, the old Castilian.
To what extent was expulsion a disaster?
I compared 1492 to an expulsion of Jewish Jews from the United States. This is what happened in Spain. They dominated finance, astronomy, cartography, philosophy, medicine in a very large cultural and economic development. In the United States Jews are less than 5 percent. In Spain they were more. It was a demographic and cultural catastrophe. There were cities that were left without doctors. It happened all over Europe, but not of this magnitude: there was less.
You are a cabalist. What is it?
It goes from the general understanding of the universe; On the one hand the Theosophical, which is equivalent to quantum physics, and studies the mystery of creation: why God created the universe and for what. As for the prophetic Kabbalah goes from the levels of consciousness and it would be psychology, what power of energy a person has and what he can grasp from reality. So on one side is the physical and on the other the individual.

Kosher: a turistical target for Cordoba(Spain)

Resultado de imagen de kosher


In the United Kingdom, Germany and France already have Cordoba in the spotlight. It is the international markets that the latest strategic plan developed by the Tourism Consortium identifies as “priority” in tourism. They also coincide with the countries of origin of the majority of foreign tourists who visit the city. However, although the objective of identifying them is to avoid dispersion of efforts in countries that may not be profitable, the Tourism Consortium “forgets” them in the sectoral action plans described in the document. And it disperses. Specifically, towards the East.

Presence in International Fairs
An extensive marketing plan, presence in international fairs and public-private promotion campaigns based on the “winning letters” of Cordoba – heritage and gastronomy – make up the general plan of action of the Tourism entity, which is combined with a strategy of recruitment Of emerging markets. In order to influence internationalization, the report proposes a firm commitment to the halal and kosher markets, both Muslim and Jewish, respectively, with direct promotion actions in countries of Southeast Asia, the Middle East or Israel. Among the reasons that justify it is the high expenditure made by these tourists, with a higher purchasing power than other international markets.

Curiously, neither the Arab Emirates nor the Asian continent are in the top positions of the ranking of priority markets established by the Tourism Consortium. Only Japan is in ninth position as a market classified as “relevant” for Cordoba. At the head is the West – Europe and the United States – while the Eastern countries do not even appear on the list of interest. However, the commitment of the Tourism Consortium to make Cordoba a “hook” for Muslim or Jewish visitors is out of the strictly territorial. According to the report, two of the countries with the highest demand for kosher-certified products – which respect the ritual prescriptions of Judaism – are precisely France and the United Kingdom.

Visitors from Southeast Asia
More complicated is the halal tourism lace, in which Cordoba also competes with other Andalusian capitals such as Seville or Granada that have also bet heavily on an offer compatible with Muslim rites as a bonus to increase their visits. In addition to Muslim tourists from Western countries, the body of the City Council of Cordoba seeks to attract visitors from Southeast Asia, the Middle East and countries of the Mediterranean as Turkey, Morocco and Algeria. To do this, it designs trade missions in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and joint actions with institutions such as the Halal Institute or Casa Árabe.