A great historical wrong was righted this year by none other than the great Jewish homeland of… Spain. Yes, for many Jews—those known as Sephardic—the pain of exile from their Spanish homeland in 1492 is second only to the pain of exile from the Holy Land.
Spain for centuries was a magnificent center of philosophy, mathematics, poetry, grammar, and music, for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. We flourished in Spain for centuries, so much so that this period of time is called a Golden Age in our history. Spain produced such famous Jews as Moses Maimonides, Abraham ibn Ezra and Yehudah HaLevi, to name but a few.
When the shock of expulsion came in 1492, many were so attached to the land and people that they underwent a public conversion to Christianity while continuing to practice their Judaism secretly, passing their discrete traditions down through generations. Many Christians of Spanish descent have spoken of family traditions of lighting candles on Friday nights. Others kept their Judaism and left, and migrated to North Africa, throughout the Middle East (including the land of Israel), further north in Europe, or west across the Atlantic. These Jews would flourish in new lands but they would never forget their Sephardic heritage and they would never stop yearning for a redemption that would bring them home to Israel and home to Spain.
And this year, after half a millennium, Spain has ruled that any person of Sephardic Jewish descent is once again eligible for citizenship— Spain’s own right of return.
We at Temple Emanu-El are blessed with an opportunity to visit our historic Spanish homeland. We will be traveling to Spain and Morocco with our good friends at SY Travel Israel, leaving January 5, 2017. With your community and rabbi, experience with all your senses Jewish and worldly history in the ancient and vibrant cities of Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Lucena, Granada and Seville, and Tangier, Tétouan, Fes, Casablanca and Marrakech. See the old sites, walk the streets, shop the markets, taste the delicacies, and learn that much more about our people’s history.
For more information, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This trip is open to who are interested. Flyers are available in the Temple Emanu-El lobby, and by request.
NEW: RABBI’S DROP-IN HOURS
Due to popular demand, there will now be regular drop-in hours. My door will be open for visits on Mondays from 3:30 to 4:30 pm, Tuesdays from 10:30 to 11:30 am, and Wednesdays from 4 to 5 pm. Please note that if my door is closed during these periods, it is because personal matters are being discussed. Please wait patiently until we have finished. Looking forward to seeing you!
Originally published in Temple Emanu-El’s December 2015 edition of Kolaynu.