Archaeological work carried out in a 15th-century hospital in Utrera has brought to light the most important synagogal complex found in the Iberian Peninsula, references to which were made by the historian Rodrigo Caro around the year 1604.
As reported at a press conference by the mayor of the town, José María Villalobos, the archaeological complex has seen the light after works started in November 2021 in the house known as ‘Niño Perdido’, where the Hospital de la Misericordia was located; Rodrigo Caro already mentioned that it was built on the remains of a synagogue.
It has been a ver special weekend visiting SEGOVIA and TOLEDO with these two couples from Philadelphia. With a tight agenda we were visiting the cities, learning history, some shopping and some kosher local food…. a great combination.
Abarbanel House was also in our itinerary and we all enjoy with crossed stories.
Every year the Jewish Community of Ceuta invites to local authorities and representatives of the different cultures coexisting in this nice city(Hindu,Catholic and Muslim) to spend a Succa evening, enjoy and show to the rest of world what does coexisting consist of!!!
Last 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).
When, after visiting Toledo, Cordoba or Girona, Jewish tourists arrive into Madrid, they often ask the locals where the Jewish quarter of the city was. Some respond with silence or an embarrassed “I do not know”. Others answer that in Lavapiés, the most widespread belief, but false. And is that, after centuries buried and unknown, the Jewish footprint in Madrid remains covered with a mantle of legend and mystery that historians, archaeologists and documentalists try to dismantle in recent years to a stroke of rigor.
“The reality is that even today, little is known about the Jewish past in Madrid,” says Enrique Cantera, a professor of Medieval History at UNED who specializes in medieval Judaism. What can be taken for granted? There is evidence of Jewish presence in the city at least since it was taken by the Christians in 1085. Alfonso VI had conquered just before the Muslim Toledo and from there they moved to Madrid Christians and Jews. That is why the majority of Jews from Madrid had origin in Toledo.
When they arrived, they installed themselves next to the Arab wall, in a small and poor suburb on which now rises – to the disgrace of the archaeologists – the Cathedral of the Almudena. It dictates the logic because the rest of Jewish of Castile were located physically near the royalty and, next to, was the famous Alcazar, burned down in 1734 in the space that now occupies the Royal Palace.
But, a few meters away, where the new Museum of Royal Collections stands today, the archaeologist who runs the excavations, Esther Andreu, has found three tracks of Hebrew presence. The first is a fragment of pottery with the drawing of a menorah, the Jewish seven-branched candlestick. The second, a jamb of a door, typical of Jewish homes, which serves to adhere a box with the mezuzah, a parchment with verses from the Torah. Andreu also discovered a system of closing of the houses that allowed to turn the zone into a watertight compartment and that already existed in Toledo in the zone of the sheds. “There is a medieval document that speaks of the ‘Castle of the Jews.’ We must understand that it was not a castle proper, but a place protected from the rest of the population,” Andreu says. What there are not are documents “with a description of the Jewry or the location of the synagogue”, says the director of the Archive of the Villa of Madrid, Maria del Carmen Cayetano.
The archaeologist Esther Andreu, before the Cathedral of the Almudena.
The archaeologist Esther Andreu, before the Cathedral of the Almudena. ÁLVARO GARCÍA
Were there Jews before, in the Muslim Magerit? “Without a doubt,” Rafael Gili, a professor at the Center for Documentation for the History of Madrid at the Autonomous University, was recently responding to a lecture on the Hebrew past of medieval Madrid. It seems to prove two documents from before the Christian conquest: a letter in which Simeon Ibn Saul announces to his brother the death of two Jewish friends and a missive sent from Syria to Egypt in which he asks for some known Jew in the city .
The Jews were mainly engaged in trade, finance and crafts. Its stores were located in Christian area. Very few did it to the agricultural activities (generally in the hands of Mudejar), although “some had own vineyards in the suburbs to be able to make kosher wine”, that must be elaborated by Jewish hands, explains Cantera. “There was even a trapper, but also a kind of Jewish elite, who was involved in lending and collecting taxes,” says Tomás Dilal, a doctor in Medieval History for UNED and a reference in the study of the city’s Hebrew past. They did not reach the rank of “neighbors” of the city and depended directly on the King, who protected them.
Baptized or die
All this collapsed in 1391, the year of the anti-Jewish pogrom started in Seville that left slaughters, looting and forced conversions of Jews and arrived in Madrid from the hands of enraged Toledo. They entered the Jewish quarter through the now-defunct Puerta de Valnadú, which the authorities had left open that night, and forced them to choose between being baptized or dying. There are no figures of victims or conversions, but ten years later the nuns of the convent that was erected in the Plaza de Santo Domingo (demolished at the end of the 19th century) complained to the monarch that they could not charge 3,000 maravedis of aljama Called the Jewry their own inhabitants) because the members who were still alive would have been baptized.
It was not quite like this. The Jewish community remained active in the fifteenth century. It dispersed to other places, such as Puerta Cerrada or Puerta del Sol, until in 1481 Jews and Mudejar people were forced to confine themselves in their own neighborhoods. It is estimated that there would then be more than 200 Jews in the city. Ten years later, the Catholic Kings forced them to convert to Catholicism or to leave. Some fled to Portugal, others were baptized, and not a few embraced the Christian faith in public while privately professing their true self. It was the end of the Jewish quarter. That is where the legend of Lavapiés appears. The neighborhood never hosted a Jewry because it was not built before the expulsion of the Jews. Nor is it true that the name of Lavapiés alludes to the ablutions made by the Jews before entering the synagogue in the fountain that occupied the place until the nineteenth century, especially since it is not the Jews, but the Muslims, who make a wash Ritual before entering your place of prayer. The historian Puñal believes that the extended and erroneous attribution of the Jewry to Lavapies comes from the romantic literature of century XIX, that looked for mythical origins to some districts, and the fact that enough of its inhabitants probably descended from converted Jews, as show some Trade union names.
The Jewish community of Melilla, which has been present in the city for more than 150 years, today recognized the Spanish State for the granting of nationality to the Sephardi, from which part of their diaspora settled in North Africa when Five centuries ago they were expelled from Spain.
The Minister of Justice, Rafael Catalá, has collected in representation of the Government the Prize Mem Memímel granted by the Jewish association of the same name by the law 12 of 2015, that granted the Spanish nationality to the descendants of Jews expelled in 1942 by Kings Católicos .
In picking up the plaque recognition, Catalá stressed that this law is one of “the most important” in recent years “for its symbolic content,” as it represents “the historic restoration of a debt five centuries ago with the Jewish people And the Sephardi in particular. “
The expulsion of this community “marked negatively the history of Spain, for the loss of talent, capacity and affection” towards this town and “Spanish nationality, which should never be lost,” the minister has condemned.
For this reason, he thanked this “gesture of reunion” with Sefarad, the land that judicial tradition identifies with Spain, after receiving the award from the President of the Association Mem Guimel de Melilla, Mordejay Guahnich.
The presentation took place at the Assembly of Melilla during the visit of the minister, at a ceremony in the presence of the city’s president, Juan José Imbroda, and the government delegate, Abdelmalik El Barkani.
The event coincided with the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday that originated in the Book of Esther of the Bible, in memory of the salvation of the Jews of Persia from being annihilated.
Only three months after his first official visit, Dr. Abraham Haim, president of the Council of the Sephardic Community in Jerusalem, returns to Lucena to deliver the speech Spain and the Jews: encounter, disagreement and reunion. An event, which will be attended by the manager of the Network of Jewish Quarters of Spain, Marta Puig Quixal, and which is held at the Casa de los Mora, from 20:30 on Monday, February 13.
Fran Carrasco Guijarro, advisor to the Jewish Delegation of Tourism and a hairdresser linked to Rasgo – a certification of distinction sponsored by the Spanish Jewish Network – will present Abraham Haim, who also holds a degree in History of the East Media by the University of Tel Aviv and in Language and Literature by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Carrasco pointed out that the lecturer “brings Lucena to Jerusalem in a cultural and academic way and this is very important for us to have this link because we can create very important ties, tourism and academics.”
Manuel Lara Cantizani, councilman responsible for Tourism and Culture, thanked the Popular Party, represented at the press conference by its consultant Pedro Arroyo, “its support for tourism initiatives regarding the Jewish past, which puts the City Council in contact with people Very important of world-wide level “and that they add” constantly “to this type of projects.
The socialist mayor said that in 2017, the Delegation of Tourism “has very clear that the activities are to be structured with a new objective, not only generate visits, but improve infrastructure and generate a new product, making space, new contacts and open to the Not only through the Jewish Network, but also through the Integral Plan of Tourism – recognized by the Andalusian Administration for its excellence in management – within its line linked to the Jewish world. ” He also said that “soon” will be announced an event included in the program Enrédate of the Junta de Andalucía and that will be combined with the third tasting of kosher products.
Finally, he commented that in the ordinary plenary session of this month of February will propose the reactivation of the technical table of the Jewish world to which will be invited, among others, to José Antonio García Suárez, coordinator of Your History; The official chroniclers of the city, Francisco López Salamanca and Luisfernando Palma Robles; Fran Carrasco, Mario Flores, representatives of the political groups; And the territorial delegate of Tourism, Culture and Sport in Córdoba, Francisco Alcalde Moya.
The Burgos municipality of Castrillo Mota de Judíos, which in 2015 got rid of its surname ‘matajudíos’, promotes a project to create a Sephardic cultural itinerary that makes Burgos a tourist reference for the Jewish community and values the shared history and Heritage and cultural heritage.
The province has a very extensive and interesting Jewish past, which can be a great tourist attraction, said the Mayor of Castrillo Mota de Judíos, Lorenzo Rodríguez.
In the municipality is worked to recover the settlement of La Mota, place to which the Jews expelled from the near village of Castrojeriz, origin of the town and its name.
On the other hand, in Castrojeriz remains of the synagogue and the walls remain, while Belorado stood out for its great Jewry, the same as Burgos or Miranda de Ebro.
Vestiges of the past of ancient Jewish communities are also found in Roa, Frías, Villadiego, Lerma, Aranda de Duero, Pancorbo, Pradoluengo, Medina de Pomar or Briviesca, for example.
For this reason, Lorenzo Rodríguez has proposed to these municipalities the possibility of creating a Sephardic cultural itinerary, as a “singular” tourist resource for the province of Burgos.
The aim is to become a benchmark of the international Jewish community, taking advantage of the thousands of Jews who visit Spain each year to visit prominent places in their community history.
The first meeting, of contact, was held days ago and was attended by fifteen towns, although they would be willing to join the initiative some more.
At the moment, Castrillo Mota de Judíos will be in charge of leading the project, accompanied by Castrojeriz and Pradoluengo.
The three localities will attend the call for aid for tourist infrastructure of Sodebur, the Development Society of the Province of Burgos, dependent on the Diputación.
It is to get economic support to elaborate a historical and archaeological project, explained the mayor of Castrojeriz, Beatriz Francés.
The most important thing is to document the Jewish past of the province and to define the preserved cultural and patrimonial resources, as well as the archaeological remains to be recovered.
Next, the tourist itinerary will be designed, marking each one of the historical or cultural landmarks, and will be promoted among the Spanish Jewish community.
The mayor of Belorado, and provincial deputy of Culture, Luis Jorge del Barco, bets to implicate in the project to the Diputación since it is a “challenge” for the municipalities.
De Barco recalled that the Provincial Institution studied a couple of years ago to develop a similar tourism resource, although the initiative did not materialize.
Now would be a good time to recover it, since the proposal of Castrillo Mota of Jews “is very exciting and accurate.”
Since the change of name in 2015, the town has strengthened ties with the international Jewish community and receives numerous visitors, who would be interested in knowing more about the Jewish past of Burgos.
Rodríguez has insisted that the province must recover its history shared with the Jewish people and put into value the inherited patrimonial and cultural wealth.
On February 14, 1349, the St. Valentine Massacre takes place in Strasbourg. Two thousand Jews were burned alive accused of spreading the plague.
It is well known that Jews have always been persecuted in the history of mankind. They have been blamed for the great misfortunes, besides being considered usurers, murderers of children and even antichrists.
Such was the case of the Black Death, which peaked between 1347 and 1353. It is estimated that the Great Death (as it was known before the 19th century) killed 60% of Europeans.
The answer you gave to this deadly epidemic? They accused the Jews of poisoning fountains and wells for the sole purpose of exterminating Christians. The evidence was found in the false confession under torture of a Jew named Agimet in 1348, who acknowledged having thrown a poison into the well from which the people were supplied, under the command of Rabbi Peyret.
This motive was sufficient to begin the persecution towards the Jews, who were exposed to all sorts of barbarities.
And so, on February 14, 1349, two thousand Jews were taken to the cemetery of the French city of Strasbourg, where they were burned on a wooden platform, in addition to imposing a law that forbade to tread that land for 100 years to Jews who They got rid of the murder.
The persecution spread throughout Europe, to the point that in Spain, any Christian was forbidden to associate with any Jew, whom they imprisoned, exterminated and expelled from all parts of the continent.