Opening Program of CA Spain Mission
The opening program took place at 5 pm at the Eurostars Grand Marina Hotel.
The first speaker was Dominique Tomasov Blinder, introduced (of course) by Nate Lam.
Dr. Blinder said that in 1492 where were 200,000. . . Or 400,000 Jews in Spain--depending on who you counted and how.
Not-so-fun fact: The Spanish Inquisition, which will be so much of the center of our conversations for the next week, wasn't cancelled until 1834
Dr. Blinder pointed out that Reform Judaism's path to Spain is from Latin America, one of several contrasts or opposites that we'll find to the other European Judaism we know so well. . .the story of the German Jews.
In terms of understanding how recent this re-visiting of Jewish history in Spain is, consider that relations between Spain and Israel weren't normalized until 1991 normalization of relations.
She is an architect, was involved in the very building in which we were meeting, designed by I.M. Pei.
As interest in the history of Jewish Spain has grown, a network of cities with Jewish quarters was created about 20 years ago. "Jews in Catalonia weren't Sephardic or Ashkenazic " say the Catalan politicos. She doesn't agree. Feels this is false.
So she speaks about the Jewish past as someone who is living in the Jewish present.
2006: Govt announced that there was going to be improvements at Mt. Jew (well, that's the translation), the ancient cemetery. We created a research centre and got landmark status, taught about the nature of Jewish respect for the departed. Outcome: How to Handle Construction and Jewish Cemeteries.
Maimonides: You can be Technically correct, but don't miss the point.
Each place we create has its own soul.
Having so many here is itself a historic moment.
Next to speak was the inimitable (well, you probably COULD imitate him -- but you'd have a hard time being as spot-on in terms of delivering an under stable description of history in so few words -- or exactly the right number of words for the available Tim) STEPHEN BERK:
Today is also the 40th anniversary of Entebbe, a tremendous act of courage by Yitzchak Rabin
Onto OUR subject:
In 1492 and the years following, Spain rose like a rocket and fell like a heavy stone.
January 1: end of Muslim reign
March: Declaration of Inquisition
October: Columbus arrives in what turns out to be the New World.
16th century was Spain's Golden Age
But 17th century: decline
18th century: Spain was over
1823 and 1898 intersection of US and Spanish history
Anarchism, communism, revolution....
1931 Second Spanish Republic...leading to Civil War. Then Franco regime to 1975.
All the problems survived so we have a Spain that is a democracy with very serious problems. Unemployment is DOWN to 21%.
(Another anniversary to consider today: The Battle of Somme also 100 years ago. WWI)
My point of view: Look for the way the community created and tried to keep its memories.
God told the Jews I have a land for you, but there are conditions, and if you don't keep them, i'll kick you out. And that happened. But Sephardim decide (and where does this word Sephardim come from?: Sof Ar't....Sof Aretz....End of the Earth. And a pretty GOOD end of the earth at that.)
1/3 left in 1391...or 1492. But many stayed , but not as Jews.
The Jews who left Spain had a sense of cultural superiority, and they didn't assimilate to the other Jewish communities. So Spanish (remarkably) becomes the language of the Jews of the places where they arrived: Salonika, Turkey(?),
Judeo (as opposed to Judeo-Espagnol).
Papo is from Sarajevo, and told a number of stories showing the way that things that seem familiar elsewhere get scrambled up (for us) in their contexts here: Spanish, in this part of the world and its history, is a JEWISH language. Yiddish is a GERMAN language. At the same time, though, people who may consider themselves Jews may have come through a period of time in which they were behaving like Christians. And at the same time, people who are living as Christians may have, deep down (or not so deep down), been Jewish -- in their minds and hearts -- knowing it or not.
I have seen from the reading how confusing this is -- back and forth, in and out. So this will be our exploration.
Then there was a fun concert of music from around the world presented by our colleagues Nate Lam, Josef Chazan, Sandy Bernstein, Itzhak Zhrebker, DovKeren, Alberto Mizrahi, Elizabeth Shammash, accompanied by Alan Mason. A great time was had by all. I've got pictures to share. . .if I can figure out how to get them onto this platform.
Now...time to get on the bus for Day 2!