encounter with Jewish Madrid
Shalom! - Hola!
I am glad to tell you that during my visit to Madrid,
Spain, on 10-16 April I had the opportunity to be hosted by and to meet
the members of local Jewish community.
My encounter with Jewish Madrid resulted also in
attending of Kabbalat Shabbat service in local community center on Balmes Street
with all required advanced notifications and security questionning in
the entrance. And, by the way, my Israeli Passport and the familiarity
with local community members were very much helpful.
The other good thing was my visit to the office of "Radio
and meeting with their staff.
Please, visit the "English corner" on http://www.radiosefarad.com/principal.php and
listen my interview entitled as "Valery
Novoselsky: A Jewish Gypsy in Israel". It features both, Roma and
During my stay in Madrid I have learned that the
official number of Jews living permanently in Spain reaches 48
thousands and that this number consists mainly of two groups: earlier
immigrants from North Morocco (especially, city
) and recent
immigrants from Argentina
(some of whom came there via
Israel). The interesting fact that the unique language Haketia
, which is a
mix of old Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic words, is still used within the
first group. And the matter of fact that it has achieved partial
official recognition in the Spanish town of Melilla (located on the
Mediterranean Rif coast of North Africa, neighbouring Morocco).
Even so, the participation in mentioned youth
conference took the significant amount of my time, the experience of
meeting the people with similar background and open
ethno-religious identity made me feel at home in the capital of a
country with dramatic and unique history for the Sephardic branch
of Am Israel. While being under the positive impression from my trip to
Madrid, I view the establishment of Casa Sefarad-Israel
(Sepharad-Israel House) in Madrid this February as a progressive and clear-sighted step forward
in developing of links of friendship
and cooperation between the Spanish and Jewish people.
Hope to have more learning experiences in other parts of Spain during
my further trips there!
Hasta la vista, Espana!
Editor of "Jewish Daily News" listserve
21 April 2007