Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Friday, October 7, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Monday, August 1, 2016
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Tonight, Wednesday July 13
We closed our joyful journey with an evening of Flamenco (by guest artists!!!!)
Followed by an Am Yisrael Chai celebration featuring
Mimi Haselkorn, Itzhak Zherebker, Matt Klein, Fredda Mendelson, Zach Mondrow, Eliot Vogel, Table Ben-Yehudah, Ofer Barnoy, David Lipp and Aaron Bensoussan....most of them accompanied by Alan Mason. Also Luis Cattan and Jonathan Schultz, percussion and Phil Barron, guitar.
And finally a Shirah B'tzibur program led by concert participants.
Photos! and Videos! at
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Vision Seville Tour
Seville is 750,000
Spain's 4th largest city
Golden Tower built beginning of 13th century by Muslims.
St. Elmo School once training for navigators, later a palace, Maria Teresa
1929 International Exhibition. Some of the grand buildings remain.
Annual Flamenco Festival
Visited (see photos)...
Roman aqueducts were restored by Muslims and Christians.
Jewish Quarter Santa Cruz
1248 Ferdinand conquered city and gave mosques to the Jews for synagogues
Synagogue became church and was destroyed by the French in 18th century.
Convent: St.Teresa de Avila
"Kissing Street"... balconies so close across from each other
Cathedral of Santa Maria ...3rd largest in Europe.... foundation dates from Roman times
Cathedral de Sevilla
Though most cathedrals are built in shape of a cross, they retained the shape of the mosque.
Vision of St. Anthony of Padua (famous painting in Cathedral)
Remnants of Ferdinand flag 13th century.
15th century singing book.
Burial place of Christopher Columbus Died in Spain in 1508. Got moved around a lot. When French invaded, they moved him to Cuba. Moved back here in 1898.
On the way out, some more remnants of the mosque.
Arab word means palace. 3 palaces here. 14th century by Peter I.
Christian king but built in Moorish Muslim style
Alfonso 10 Gothic palace partially destroyed by earthquake
(We visited Peter's area)
A few faces included in decorations....to show that it's Christian not Muslim?
Has never been abandoned
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Final Papo Lecture
Musical Traditions of Ladino Speaking Jews
Gerush Sefarad (leaving Sefarad)....linguistically misleading. Seems like it should be MI-Sfarad.
Rabbis explained this by saying that they "needed to get the Spain taken out of them." Jews were very integrated in Spanish life and culture. They adopted/adapted ballada, romanza and copla. Romanzas were associated with women, coplas with men.
"Blessed be the one who ordered his world in such a way that the man are in his shop and the children are in school."
Ladies didn't need to pray in Hebrew. They wrote their Ladino in Latin script. Ladino as if it were French or Serbo-Croatian or Turkish. But men wrote in Hebrew letters.
Book of poetry and song La Mujera Sephardi. Chapters: Childhood. Marriage. MotherInLaws. Widowhood. Why? Typically the women married early (to bear children) and men married late (after being established).
Romanzas were exposed to them because the women sang them to the children. But society taught the boys and men to ignore and forget because they were mama's songs for children.
Coplas had too much Hebrew for women to follow.
Sephardic community tends to be more unified than Ashkenazim. Traditional and less traditional. To them, Orthodox is a term about a church. Conservative and Reform not pertinent terms. A la Turka vs. a la Franca.
My endowed lover.
The queen is looking through the window and preparing her hair. The king comes and touches his member to her butt.
"My lover I have 4 sons, 2 by the king and 2 by the lover. I've sent the King's 2 to war but "yours" are safe here with me.
How do you like the dream I had?
The king isn't sure about this and kills the lover to play it safe. (Queen hadn't realized that she was singing to the king, not her lover.) Understandable that the rabbis weren't too keen on this literature...but after expulsion, it was different, and the rabbis became the collectors and disseminators.
17th century Salonika law question....I was eating a worm in a nonwormy (no expectation that it could be wormy) fruit. I told the Beit din in Salonika and they said don't worry it wouldn't happen. In the Ashk community, there would be overreaction and banning. In Seph world you have erred by checking and making trouble. Making fun of the rabbis, going away from the community, saying that previously communities weren't sufficiently religious enough.
Coplas: anonymous or by famous rabbis. First Jewish musical: 17th century Istanbul: Coplas of Joseph the Just by Toledo
Wives' names are typically Spanishization of tribal name
Yissachar: Merchant=Money brings Kavod:Kvudah
Hazzanim should see to the re-creation of this musical.
There are musical notes and instructions.
Finally about tachrichim (burial shroud)....Today we are in denial about death. Sephardic tendency: when someone goes to a next part of life, they would gather together, sing songs, he would lie on the ground and they would take his measure. Step by step by step. Acknowledging that death is a stage of life.
Final Berk Lecture
After the Spanish Civil War
As a Fascist he comes close to Mussolini and Hitler in 1940. Hitler wants a pass through Spain and wants Gibraltar and North Africa. Franco wants those places. Neither yields to the other.
Hitler's 2 biggest mistakes: going to war in Russia and not taking Gibraltar.
Hitler wants Spain in on Barbarossa but Franco just sends some troops.
Franco was a visceral anti-Semite throughout the 30s, but he had a fluctuating policy. Sometimes he lets them pass. But if they miss their ship, they may end up in Spanish concentration camps, or worse France and Germany.
Walter Benjamin is turned back from Spain and commits suicide.
Spains few thousand Jews don't go to Germany/Poland. Franco and Spain considered pariahs after the war.
Stroke of luck for Spain: February 1945, Yalta.1942, Churchill convinced Roosevelt not to invade France. We're not ready. But by June 1944, the Soviets are coming from the east and it's becoming clear that they will have their way in Eastern Europe.
Molotov emerges from Yalta insulted, angry and powerful.
1948: Humphrey...It's time to move away from states rights to civil rights.
Cold War. And fear that if Stalin isn't checked, Soviets will roll all the way to England.
This busts up the Democrats. Ultimately, the advent of the Cold War works for Spain. America now needs Franco.
Adenauer and Brandt also benefit in Germany.
Spanish Economy begins to improve. Franco jettisons some of his loyalists. Opus Dei (Church) benefits.
Franco perceives that security will be found in Spain through of the Monarchy. Juan Carlos comes to Spain, is educated,....and reestablishes
Spain enters Common Maker and NATO.
In the short run in American foreign policy, we make accommodations with some really creepy characters.
After Franco's dear, the whole apparatus
1981 Coup d'etat is foiled by King Juan Carlos. He promises he will never again intervene in politics.
Spain has PROBLEMS: 2parts of the country don't want to be part of the country. 25% unemployment here. France over 10%.
Look on the bright side: European Union is one of the great accomplishments of modern history.
70 years after the Holocaust, Jews are fine in the east and in Germany. Not as safe in France! and Germany!!
The country DOES have a lot of troubles, but it's OK. We SHOULD help Spain succeed.
Berk says we need to twin with congregations all over Europe. Where does Joint's money go? Mostly Orthodox. Not fair. Not smart.
He was born in Seville, his parents in Morocco.
In Morocco, there werent movements, just more traditional and less traditional.
Seville is the oldest modern Jewish community in Spain since the Expulsion.
Jews were here in end of 2nd century CE. 1st remain a tombstone in Latin, which shows that there was already some organized Jewish life during the Roman
Rome then became Christian and replaced by Visigoths, Aryans who tolerated the Jews. In 586, the Visigoth king converted to Roman Catholicism and turned on the Jews, enslaved them.
Jewish life under Islam was better. They weren't free per second but were able to live their lives, and some to succeed to a very high degree.
Rambam actually came later when Islam was intolerant. He was just 13, left Cordoba and went to Morocco, then Egypt, so Rambam isn't really part of the Golden Age, but perhaps a product of it. Europe is going through Dark Ages, but Islam is promoting learning.
Seville in Christian times 2nd only to Toledo in Jewish population. How do we know what we know about population? Census and taxes. Not very complete info. Once 700,000 Jews in Spain. Today 45,000 in a population of 29(?) million.
After 1483, no Jews left on Seville
Massacres of 1391. Started in Seville 6 June. 15th century was a disaster for Jews. Nobody likes the Conversos. The Inquisition happens under the authority of the Monarchy. 1st trial in Seville 1491. Last burning 1781.
Inquisition lasted until 1834. The 1812 Constitution stated clearly that Spain is Catholic. Not until the 1960s is full tolerance proclaimed. 1968
Today 25-30 families. Jews used to meet once a week (when his father came to town) at someone's house on Friday night and on Yom Kippur.
1991 Jewish community buys an apart, and to today, this is where we have services. Most of the time we don't get a minyan.
So few of us ... but we have 2 congregations. 10-12 families have created an egalitarian liberal congregation.
Gets kosher stuff from Marsha, Gibraltar, US.
Future? I don't know. Government over counts Jews by about a factor of two. Europe is becoming a tough place for Jews again. "I don't know what will happen." Only growing community is frum Gibraltar.
"I don't see why I should leave, but I don't see why I should stay."
Then a "Moroccan Maariv" led by Aaron Bensoussan and colleagues and an El Malei Rachamim sung by Dov Keren in memory of all the Jews of Sepharad.
Monday, July 11, 2016
Our guides, Rosa and Juando
Thanks to new roads, it's half hour to beach from Granada and 45 minutes to the mountains.
Cypress street to the site.
We can still see the ancient canal...6km long when built. 17th century
After Romans, Visigoths, then Moslems
Guaranat. Jewish neighborhood here.
11th century, 1st pogrom here.
1212 started beating back fundamentalism. Granada became the capital of what remained in Muslim Spain
Buildings destroyed in 19th century by Napoleon. Only here for 2 years. On to Barcelona, they destroyed the walls on their way our.
After church took power again, monks lived here until 1834. Nationalized. Became hotel in 1914.
Toward city center and main mosque.
Guide: Maria Jose
Monday, July 11
Some photos at
2000 years ago, the Romans were here. There are significant remains, buy they are far down. The Jews came with the Romans
In the middle ages, Cordoba was capital of Islamic Al-Andalus, beginning 711.
Center of Andalusia (Andalucia).
When European cities were 15-20,000, there were a half million here. In 10th century, there was real coexistence and cooperation between Jews, Muslims and Christians. But it didn't last much more than 100 years. 20,000(?) Jews lived here in the good times.
1236: reconquest by Christians.
Muslims developed the water system from their earliest days, though Romans had also built aqueducts.
Unemployment rate almost 30% here.
The Medina was the central part of the city.
Roman bridge was only bridge across the city's river from 1st century until modern times.
Jail and Place of the Inquisition
Former Grand Mosque
When Christians reconquered here, many Muslims fled to Granada. Christians reconsecrated onto Holy Mary Cathedral.
Those who stayed purchased Christian family history to secure themselves from the Inquisition .
Narrow streets, cul de sacs, not much order. For security.
Doctor scholar philosopher polyglot. He had a good life here until age 12, leaving because of new regime. Father was a judge. Physician to Saladin.
Sinagogo ... Synagogue
This was private for its family. No windows, so it could be secret.
Built 14th century in Moorish (local) style. (Influence, fashion, not security.)
Used as a women's hospital in 16th and 17th centuries.
Our guide sang Psalm 121 Esa Einai
Inquisition Abolished 1833
To hang someone in a sambonito (Sp. expression): to give someone a kind of guilt they cannot escape.
Back to the mosque. Enlarged 3 times. When it was a mosque, it was much more open. 19 open arch entrances Built with new and reused materials. The mosque was built to move water (like aqueducts).
Christians lit candles in their dark cathedral, creating fires and fire hazards. So what didn't burn from the wooden roof, they removed.
10th century was golden age in Cordoba. Jews, Christians, Muslim together.
Took almost 350 years to build the central cathedral.
Andalucia is Spain's largest region, and the source of a great deal of what the world considers to be Spanish culture. And they speak faster than anywhere else.
Granada was the last city to form under Muslim rule and was strongest and longest. (We have ARRIVED in Granada. More about that in a subsequent post.)
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Concert at Teatro Goya.
Greetings from Israel's Ambassador to Spain and the President of the Jewish Community of Madrid
All accompanied by Alan Mason
Nate Lam and Marcus Feldman with Ensemble conducted by Jeremy Lipton
Appropriate scenes from around the world projected behind the performers throughout the concert.
Photos are available at
Dan Gross--his own composition
Alisa Pomerantz-Boro --her own well-known composition.
David Propis and Alisa Pomerantz-Boro duet
Marcelo Gindlin with surprise guests Sandy Bernstein and Penny Myers
Simon Spiro as Zorro and himself.
Mendelson and Mizrahi duet
Lewandowski Psalm 150
Saturday, July 9, 2016
The fortress at this site was regained in the 11th century. In 1734,
King Philip V ordered a palace built in thr image of Versailles, where he grew up.
Reception Room---Hall of Columns, where the 1982 Middle East Peace Conference, the abdication of Juan Carlos, and ceremony for Spain joining the European Union all took place.
(Obama coming to town tomorrow.
They don't sit in the thrones or wear the crowns. Real power is vested in the President. The king is a symbol.
Open in 1986
National Museum in 1988
Modern Art Museum
The cusp of modernism
Picasso and others.
Woman in Blue, other early ((1901) Picasso
Concept: Perfection already exists. The artist is aiming at something else. Analyze the elements.
1936: Outbreak of Spanish Civil War
1937: International Exhibition in France. Became in Spanish Exhibition Propaganda . Picasso is asked to decorate the main wall.
Guernica was bombed by its own government. In 24 days he painted Gueenica. Artist, but not specific. 17 shades of b/w. No color. 4 women, 3 men and animals. Pain, years, but also a hand holding a flower. Lamp illuminating room? Spain? God?
Guernica is a premonition of the disaster that lay ahead. Returned to Spain in 1981. From MOMA in NY