Your Selected Item:
Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions

The Jewish Community of Granada


City and province in Andalusia, S. Spain.

According to tradition in the legends of Spanish Jewry, some of the Jews exiled by Nebuchadnezzar settled in Granada, which they called the "pomegranate of Spain". Even the Moors thought that the Jews had founded the city, which they called Gharnatat Al-Yahud ("Granada of the Jews"). The earliest extant information on the Jewish community in Granada is that the garrison stationed in the city after its conquest by the Moors in 711 was composed of Jews and Moors. During the Umayyad period Granada was one of the most important communities in all Spain. In the 11th century, as a result of the fragmentation of Andalusia - when Granada became an independent principality - Jews received a large share in its administration. Samuel ha- Nagid was not only leader of his own people but also vizier and military commander in the state. Prominent Jews were also among his political opponents who fled from the principality after the victory of Samuel's faction. Various libelous documents were issued
Against the position of the Jews, and were circulated through neighboring principalities. An anti-Jewish polemical tone was even voiced in their wars against Granada.

Samuel's son, joseph ha-Nagid, fell victim to a mass revolt in 1066 in which the "(Jewish) community of Granada" perished along with him (Ibn Daud, 76). According to a later testimony, "more than 1,500 householders" were killed (Ibn Verga, op. Cit., 22). Soon afterward the Jews returned to a position of influence in Granada, however not for long. At the time of the conquest of the city by the Almoravid Ibn Tashfin in 1090, the community was destroyed and the Ibn Ezra family was among the refugees. During the Almohad regime (1148-1212), only Jews who had converted to Islam were permitted to live in the city. The attempt of Jews and Christians to overthrow Almohad rule in 1162 met with failure. At first, Jews, together with Christians, were expelled from the town during the wars of the Reconquest (1232). They returned to Granada when the kingdom of Granada was ruled by the Muslim Nasrid dynasty (1232-1492). There is no available information on the Jews of Granada during the 13th-15th centuries, yet it is known that several of the kings of Aragon sent Jews as legates to Granada.

After 1391 conversos found shelter in Granada, where they openly returned to Judaism. In the agreement of surrender signed between the king of Granada and Ferdinand and Isabella in 1491 it was stated that Jews who were natives of Granada and its environs, and designated to be transferred to Spain, would be granted protection; those who wished to leave the country for north Africa would be given the opportunity to do so. Conversos who returned to Judaism were given a deadline to leave the country. It was also agreed that no Jews would have the right of judgment over the Moors, and that Jews would not serve as tax collectors.
On March 31, 1492, the edict of expulsion of the Jews from Spain was signed in the recently captured Granada. The traveler Hieronymus Muenzer, who visited Granada in 1494- 1495, states that Ferdinand ordered the razing of the Jewish quarter in 1492, where, according to Muenzer, 20,000 Jews resided. In addition to the families of Samuel ha-Nagid and Ibn Ezra, natives of Granada included Judah Ibn Tibbon, Saadiah B. Maimon Ibn Danan, Solomon B. Joseph Ibn Ayyub, and many other scholars and authors. The Jewish quarter in Granada was not located in a single place throughout the centuries of Muslim rule. It was moved, expanded, or contracted by the various dynasties which ruled the city.

Ashtor estimates the total number of residents of 11th- century Granada at 26,000, of which 20% were Jews.

Place Type:
ID Number:
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
Yehoseph Ha-Nagid )1035-1066) , poet. Born in the kingdom of Granada, Spain, he was the son of Shmuel Ha-Nagid and his heir in running the administrative and political affairs of the kingdom. His first attempts in writing poetry probably stem from his ninth year when he joined his father in one of the war expeditions he led. The poems were included by the father in his own diwan which he had begun writing a year earlier. As his father’s, Yehoseph Ha-Nagid’s poems record and reflect events from his life. However, many of them disappeared.
In 1064, at the time of the severe struggle between the kings of Granada and Seville, he became involved in a harem intrigue. Yehoseph surrounded himself with wealthy Jews – agents and officers of the king. Arrogant and disliked, he soon had to defend himself against a serious accusation. As the consequence of a provocation by a fanatic Muslim theologian he was murdered and a bloody slaughter befell the Jews of Granada.
Linguist, philosopher, poet and halakhist. Saadiah Ben Maimun Ibn Danan was born in Granada, Spain. He served first there and later, after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, in Oran, Algeria, as dayyan. Several of his responsa include some very important information. His treatise “The Necessary Rule of the Hebrew Language” (written in Arabic) deals, among other things, with Hebrew prosody and was the first attempt at comparing the Hebrew meter with the Arabic. He also wrote a talmudic lexicon and a Hebrew dictionary in Arabic. In his poetry, he continued the tradition of his great predecessors in Muslim Spain and like them, composed poems which reflect the beauty of the language. He did not reject secular poetry. One of his poems was written in honour of Maimonides’ Moreh Nevukhim (Guide of the Perplexed). He died in Oran, Algeria.
Samuel Ha-Nagid (993-1056) , statesman, poet and scholar. The career of Samuel Ha-Nagid marks the highest achievement of a Jew in medieval Muslim Spain. He was born in Cordoba to a famous Jewish family which originated from Merida. He received an excellent religious and secular education. In 1013, following the Berber conquest, he was forced to flee Cordoba. Samuel went to Malaga and shortly afterwards was approached by the Berber ruler of Granada. He became a tax collector, assistant to the vizier, and later a vizier himself. In 1027 the Jews conferred upon him the title nagid (ruler) of Spanish Jewry. As vizier, he led the army of Granada, which was engaged in a continual warfare with Arab Seville. Important information concerning his campaigns can be found in his poetry in the Diwan. His major work, Sefer Hilkheta Gavrata, is a compilation and explanation of Halakha. The Nagid also wrote critiques of the Koran. As the leader of Spanish Jewry, Samuel corresponded with contemporary scholars and was one of the patrons of Solomon Ibn Gabirol.
Samuel's poems are included in three books: Ben Tehillim, Ben Mishlei and Ben Kohelet. His poetry ranges over a great variety of subjects and includes significant information about the period in which he lived. His writings include poems of war, poems of love and wine; poems in praise and glory of friendship as well as verses on the theme of mourning, wisdom, morality etc. Samuel saw his own personal suffering and deep yearning for redemption reflected in the sufferings and longings of the Jews in exile. He died on the battle field.
Yehoseph Ha-Nagid )1035-1066) , poet. Born in the kingdom of Granada, Spain, he was the son of Shmuel Ha-Nagid and his heir in running the administrative and political affairs of the kingdom. His first attempts in writing poetry probably stem from his ninth year when he joined his father in one of the war expeditions he led. The poems were included by the father in his own diwan which he had begun writing a year earlier. As his father’s, Yehoseph Ha-Nagid’s poems record and reflect events from his life. However, many of them disappeared.
In 1064, at the time of the severe struggle between the kings of Granada and Seville, he became involved in a harem intrigue. Yehoseph surrounded himself with wealthy Jews – agents and officers of the king. Arrogant and disliked, he soon had to defend himself against a serious accusation. As the consequence of a provocation by a fanatic Muslim theologian he was murdered and a bloody slaughter befell the Jews of Granada.

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

Granada is the name of a city and province in Andalusia, southern Spain. According to legend, some of the Jews exiled by Nebuchadnezzar settled in Granada. When the Moors conquered the city in 711 CE, the garrison stationed there included Jewish soldiers. Granada is recorded as a Jewish family name in Mexico in 1642 with Gabriel de Granada. The Jewish surname Granada is documented in north America with Isaac Henriques Granada, who became a freeman of New York City in 1688. In the 20th century the form de Granada is recorded as a Jewish family name with Samuel Hendriques de Granada of Surinam, who perished in the Holocaust during World War II during a visit to Holland.
The lions fountain from the 14th century
in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain, .
A similar fountain in the Palace of Samuel Ha-Nagid,
was described by the poet-philosopher Solomon Ibn Gabirol.
Hebrew poets in Spain drew inspiration from the art surrounding them.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)
Samuel Ha-Nagid (993-1056) , statesman, poet and scholar. The career of Samuel Ha-Nagid marks the highest achievement of a Jew in medieval Muslim Spain. He was born in Cordoba to a famous Jewish family which originated from Merida. He received an excellent religious and secular education. In 1013, following the Berber conquest, he was forced to flee Cordoba. Samuel went to Malaga and shortly afterwards was approached by the Berber ruler of Granada. He became a tax collector, assistant to the vizier, and later a vizier himself. In 1027 the Jews conferred upon him the title nagid (ruler) of Spanish Jewry. As vizier, he led the army of Granada, which was engaged in a continual warfare with Arab Seville. Important information concerning his campaigns can be found in his poetry in the Diwan. His major work, Sefer Hilkheta Gavrata, is a compilation and explanation of Halakha. The Nagid also wrote critiques of the Koran. As the leader of Spanish Jewry, Samuel corresponded with contemporary scholars and was one of the patrons of Solomon Ibn Gabirol.
Samuel's poems are included in three books: Ben Tehillim, Ben Mishlei and Ben Kohelet. His poetry ranges over a great variety of subjects and includes significant information about the period in which he lived. His writings include poems of war, poems of love and wine; poems in praise and glory of friendship as well as verses on the theme of mourning, wisdom, morality etc. Samuel saw his own personal suffering and deep yearning for redemption reflected in the sufferings and longings of the Jews in exile. He died on the battle field.
Linguist, philosopher, poet and halakhist. Saadiah Ben Maimun Ibn Danan was born in Granada, Spain. He served first there and later, after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, in Oran, Algeria, as dayyan. Several of his responsa include some very important information. His treatise “The Necessary Rule of the Hebrew Language” (written in Arabic) deals, among other things, with Hebrew prosody and was the first attempt at comparing the Hebrew meter with the Arabic. He also wrote a talmudic lexicon and a Hebrew dictionary in Arabic. In his poetry, he continued the tradition of his great predecessors in Muslim Spain and like them, composed poems which reflect the beauty of the language. He did not reject secular poetry. One of his poems was written in honour of Maimonides’ Moreh Nevukhim (Guide of the Perplexed). He died in Oran, Algeria.
Yehoseph Ha-Nagid )1035-1066) , poet. Born in the kingdom of Granada, Spain, he was the son of Shmuel Ha-Nagid and his heir in running the administrative and political affairs of the kingdom. His first attempts in writing poetry probably stem from his ninth year when he joined his father in one of the war expeditions he led. The poems were included by the father in his own diwan which he had begun writing a year earlier. As his father’s, Yehoseph Ha-Nagid’s poems record and reflect events from his life. However, many of them disappeared.
In 1064, at the time of the severe struggle between the kings of Granada and Seville, he became involved in a harem intrigue. Yehoseph surrounded himself with wealthy Jews – agents and officers of the king. Arrogant and disliked, he soon had to defend himself against a serious accusation. As the consequence of a provocation by a fanatic Muslim theologian he was murdered and a bloody slaughter befell the Jews of Granada.

Solomon Ibn Gabirol (1021-1058), poet and philosopher, born in Malaga, Spain, and acquired an extensive education in Saragossa. Orphaned at an early age, he wrote some elegies on his father's death and mourned both his parents in 1045. He suffered from a severe skin disease and was frequently ill in his childhood. In his poems he complained of his state of health and his looks. His high self-esteem often brought him into conflict with influential men whom he attacked. Nevertheless, devoting his life to philosophy and poetry, he was dependent on wealthy patrons. One of them was Jekutiel Ben Isaac Ibn Hasan, and when he was killed in 1039, Gabirol wrote a number of elegies. Subsequently his financial and social status was lowered and he was involved in constant squabbling with Saragossa's nobles; both of these situations caused him much suffering. In 1045 he left the town and lived for a while in Granada, enjoying Samuel ha-Nagid's patronage. They later quarreled as a result of his criticism of Samuel's poems. Many legends surround not only Gabirol's life, but also the date and circumstances of his death.

Only two books which can be definitely attributed to Gabirol have been preserved: Mekor Hayyim (The Source of Life) and Tikkun Middot ha-Nefesh (The Improvement of the Moral Qualities). Two other books – Sefer al ha-Nefesh (Liber de Anima) and Mivhar Peninim – are frequently attributed to him. Since his poems were scattered in prayer books and anthologies there was great difficulty in identifying and recovering them. Gabirol's poems reflect his knowledge of biblical Hebrew and display linguistic virtuosity, while avoiding the complexity characteristic of his predecessors, poets of the first generation of medieval Spanish Jewry, including Samuel ha-Nagid. His poetry reveals his intrinsic knowledge of Arabic poetry, the Bible and talmudic literature, scientific disciplines (especially astronomy) as well as his philosophical Neoplatonic leanings. In his secular poems, Gabirol expressed his praise of and friendship with the patrons, who supported him. He emphasizes the contrast between himself, a devotee of wisdom and believer in God, and his fellows who were involved in mundane matters and temporal success. He wrote wisdom poetry, representing the two aspects of knowledge – the intellectual effort to reach the heights of heavenly spheres and introspection. He wrote some winter poems (e.g., Avei Shehakim and Yeshallem ha-Setav Nidro), and ethical poems describing the transience of life and the worthlessness of bodily existence as opposed to the eternal values of spiritual life and the immortality of the soul. He also wrote many riddles.
On the basis of his religious poetry, Gabirol is regarded as the major religious poet of Spanish Jewry. His lyrical-religious works express longing and profound love for God, while he realizes his own insignificance and his inability either to combat desire or to understand the essential evil of the senses. His national poetry is imbued with the traditional longing for deliverance (e.g., Rashuyyot) and with the particular fate of Spanish Jewry. Political events of his time reinforced Gabirol's awareness of the dangers of exile (Asher Teshev Shekhulah; Lekhu Bo'u ve-Hikkavetsu). The concepts and visions of Gabirol's mystical poems are almost irreconcilable with his philosophical concepts, as expressed in other works. His poem Ha-Anak is a didactic one, intended to teach the basic rules of Hebrew.
The philosophy of Mekor Hayyim received poetic expression in the first part of Gabirol's Keter Malkhut (The Kingly Crown). The poem describes the construction of the world according to Platonic cosmology. The poem also deals with the soul, its descent into sin and its possible redemption through wisdom.


Najara, Nagara, Naiera


Town in the region of La Rioja, N. Spain.

Najera in La Rioja is located unfar from the city of Burgos and constituted a large and distinguished aljamas (al-Jamāʿa – self-governing Jewish community) in the Kingdom of Navarre respectively Castile.


21st Century

The town of Najera has been studied for its Medieval epoch from the millennium until the 16th century. Two Jewish quarters were recorded. One area was within the town of Najera while the other elevated on the hill of Malpica. Sources as textual documentation and architecture were used thereby.

Letters found in the Cairo Genizah first in the 1930s refer to the town of Najera. The script of the letters are Sephardic written around the 11th century. The figures described in the letters had originally come from Narbonne in France to Najera.


Najera had an old and important community which maintained relations with the Babylonian Geonim. Letters from the community have been found in the Cairo Genizah. As early as the beginning of the 11th century, the community enjoyed a fuero (municipal charter), which later served as a model for similar grants of privileges to other localities. The blood price for a Jew as specified in the charter was equal to that paid for killing a knight or a member of the clergy. The charter was ratified in 1136 by Alfonso VII, and in the 13th century was included in the fuero of Castile. The Jewish quarter of Najera was located near the city wall and the marketplace in the southern part of the city, and remains of the synagogue have been discovered there. The Jews of Najera owned land and vineyards in the vicinity of the city. The importance of the community toward the end of the 13th century is shown by the tax levied upon it, which amounted in 1290 to 30,318 (according to another source 24,106) maravedis.

In 1360, during the civil war between Peter the Cruel and Henry of Trastamara, Henry's supporters attacked the Jews in Najera and many were killed. The community suffered once more at the time of Peter's victory over Henry in 1367 near Najera. During the 15th century the position of the community in Najera, as well as of the others in the Kingdom, deteriorated, although at the beginning of the century some Jews still owned land and real estate in the old city. During the war against Granada a special levy of 18 1/2 gold castellanos was imposed on the Jews of Najera, San Millan de la Cogolla, and Canas. No details are known about the fate of the community at the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.


Arabic: Al-Mariyya (translated: the mirror; the city was compared to the mirror of the sea).


Spanish Mediterranean seaport city.


21st Century

The historic Jewish quarter of Almeria was according to traditions located in the nowaday neighborhood of Chanca. The nearby municipality of Adra saw one of the oldest Jewish communities on the Peninsula of Iberia. In the 18th century a marble plaque could be found with the inscription in commemoration of a Jewish girl Annia Salomonula.

The Almeria Holocaust memorial was set in memory of 142 Jewish citizens of Almeria who perished in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Jews had been sent under the Franco regime to Austria and then to the hands of the Nazi regime. The memorial lays on an iron railway pier, the El Cable Inglés near the harbour.

The Almeria Jewish community was a most prosperous in the Andalusian region. Over the centuries however it ceased to exist.

The village of Mojacar, unfar from the city of Almeria also has an old Jewish quarter close by to the original city entrance.



A Jewish community was formed in Almeria at the end of the tenth century by refugees from the neighboring settlement of Pechina. The Jewish quarter was near the harbor. In the 11th century, the Vizier of Almeria, Ibn Abbas, published libelous tracts against Samuel Ha-Nagid, vizier to the King of Granada, and the Jews. His attitude led to war, in the course of which the King of Almeria was killed and Ibn Abbas executed on Samuel's instructions.

According to Abraham Ibn Ezra's historical elegy (Ahah Varad, line 4), no Jews in Almeria survived the Almohade persecution of the mid-12th century, but the community revived subsequently. Later, the black death resulted in much suffering. The treaty of surrender on the Christian reconquest of Almeria in 1489 afforded the Jews the same protection as the Moors. After the edict of expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 a number of exiles sailed from Almeria for North Africa.



Town in Castile, central Spain.

The first documents regarding its Jewish community date from the 13th century. An episode in 1320 brought it into prominence. A Jewish woman had committed adultery with a Christian and then had their child baptized. The Infante Juan Manual permitted his Jewish courtier Judah Ibn Wakar to judge her according to Jewish law; he ordered her nose to be cut off, decision as providing a deterrent to immorality among the Jewish communities. In 1474 the community paid 700 maravedis as its annual tax.

Taxes for the war against Granada reached 16,300 maravedis in 1491. No details are known about the fate of the community in the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the following year.


Arabic: Basta, town N.E. of Granada in Andalucia, Spain.

Baza was annexed to Granada after Almeria's defeat by the army under Samuel b. Joseph Ha-Nagid's command (c. 1039). In the 11th century there was a Jewish community in Baza, whose residents were employed mostly in the silk industry.

The Jewish quarter was located opposite the present-day cathedral of Santiago. A mikveh with three bath chambers has been uncovered and is a good example of 11th-century Arabic bathhouse architecture.


City in N. Central Spain.

As the chief city of the Kingdom of Castile and the meeting place of the Cortes, Valladolid attracted many Jews to settle there. Jewish settlement in Valladolid is first mentioned in 1221. However, Jews probably already lived there during the Arab period, as well as immediately after the Christian reconquest in the 11th century.

Information is extant from the second half of the 13th century concerning the Jewish quarter. One of the landowners was Joseph b. Moses de Gerondi (perhaps the son of Nachmanides), who was a favorite at the court of Alfonso X. In 1288 Sancho IV prohibited the Jews of Valladolid from acquiring land in its vicinity. The community appears to have consisted of 50 to 100 families; it was thus of average size in comparison with other Spanish communities.

In 1322 the municipal council prohibited Christians from attending Jewish and Moorish weddings and from receiving treatment from Jewish physicians. Jews were also excluded from holding public office. During the 14th century the apostate Abner of Burgos settled in the town. He was appointed sexton of the church of Valladolid, and even became known as Alfonso of Valladolid. In 1336, on the orders of Alfonso XI, he engaged in a public disputation with the Jews of Valladolid on the subject of the Birkat Ha- minim. His arguments were accepted by the King who ordered the removal of this prayer from the prayer books.

At the time of the civil war between the brothers Pedro the Cruel and Henry of Trastamara, the inhabitants of the town joined with henry in 1367, and the local Jews were subsequently subjected to attacks in which eight synagogues were destroyed. The survivors had to receive assistance and support from the communities of the Kingdom of Aragon. The community apparently recovered, however, for in 1390 John I granted the monastery of San Benito an income of 15,000 maravedis from the annual tax and service tax which the Jews of Valladolid had paid him. This income was again ratified in 1412, though granted to the monastery from other sources because the majority of the local Jews had by then converted to Christianity as a result of the anti-Jewish persecutions in Spain of 1391.

The community was then in the process of disintegration. At that time Vicente Ferrer lived in the town. Through his influence, in conjunction with Pablo de Santa Maria, a series of anti-Jewish laws were issued, known as the laws of Valladolid. The legislation was intended to undermine the foundations of Jewish existence and bring the Jews to conversion. It abolished the Jewish autonomy, their rights of independent jurisdiction, and their special tax administration, among other measures. Christian judges were appointed to administer Jewish law. A special decree prohibited the Jews and the Moors of Valladolid from leaving the town, in conformity with the prohibition forbidding the Jews to leave the Kingdom. The local rulers were warned not to offer protection to the Jews.

In 1413 John II authorized the erection of a new Jewish quarter in Valladolid. The representatives of the community leased land for the quarter from the San Pablo monastery for an annual payment. The contract stipulated that the lease would be annulled if the quarter was removed to another site, if the King ordered the expulsion of the Jews from the town, or if all the Jews converted to Christianity. An attempt to restore community life in the Kingdom, however, was made by an assembly of delegates of the communities of the Kingdom of Castile; scholars and good men convened between April 4 and May 2, 1432, under the leadership of Don Abraham Benveniste of Soria in the great synagogue of Valladolid in the Jewish quarter, where they discussed the organization of the communities and their rehabilitation. This meeting was significant since, in addition to the regulations issued there, it was held in the chief city, which was the seat of the court rabbi (rab de la corte), the leader of Spanish Jewry, and thus expressed the idea of a national Jewish organization. The assembly issued five unique sets of regulations aimed to restore the life of the communities to their former greatness. The regulations of Valladolid promoted an internal revival of the communities by their own initiative and also demonstrated that it was the policy of the King to encourage this recovery.

The delegates of the communities met again in Valladolid in 1476. Apparently, a request was made by the communities to appoint Rabbi Vidal Astori chief rabbi of the communities beyond the town of Burgos. Ferdinand agreed to the appointment, but later nominated Abraham Seneor of Segovia chief rabbi of the whole Kingdom in appreciation of his services. Ten years later, in 1486, Ferdinand and Isabella took the part of the Jews of Valladolid against the decisions of the municipal council which tried to prevent Jews from settling there by prohibiting marriages of their children outside the town, with the intention of settling there after the marriage. In this period the delegates of the communities met in Valladolid under the leadership of Abraham Seneor to discuss raising funds for the expenses of the war against Granada. The atmosphere of this period, shortly before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, is reflected in the resolutions of the Christian craftsmen's guilds demanding that the Jews should leave the town because they did not wish to live beside them.

In 1485, after reports had been received that conversos had returned to Judaism in Zamora, an investigation was carried out in Valladolid by the royal tribunal, although the inquisition tribunals were already active and one had been established in Valladolid that year. It is possible that the court intended thereby to suppress knowledge of the affair. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Fernan Nunez Coronel (Abraham Seneor) and Luis de Alcala were appointed to collect the unpaid debts which the Jews had left in Valladolid in favor of the crown. Apparently because few conversos returned to Judaism in Castile, the inquisition tribunal in Valladolid did not develop large-scale activity, though its investigations were renewed in 1499. The tribunal was abolished in 1560 when the area of its jurisdiction was included in the tribunal of Toledo.

Seville (Sp. Sevilla)

Leading city of Andalusia, S. W. Spain.

According to a tradition, the Jewish settlement in Seville was of very ancient date. It is identified with the Tarshish mentioned in the Bible. There is no doubt that a Jewish settlement existed during the period of Visigothic rule in the peninsula. During the 7th century C.E., Isidore of Seville wrote anti-Jewish polemics there. When the city was conquered by the Muslims in 712 they formed a Jewish guard for its defense; these soldiers settled in the city and its surroundings.

Under the Umayyads, seville prospered and became an important cultural center. Saadiah b. Joseph Gaon addressed Seville Jewry in the mid-tenth century in his letter to the leading communities in Spain. The Jews engaged in commerce and medicine and had a virtual monopoly on the profession of dyeing. Seville served as a refuge for Jews escaping from Cordoba after the Berber conquest in 1013. During the 11th century the Jewish population increased as a result of the anti-Jewish riots in Granada, as well as a large influx of Jews from North Africa seeking economic improvement.

Under the Abbasid dynasty (1023-91) prominent Jews served in various capacities at court. Important families included the Ibn Al-Yatom, Ibn Kamneil, Ibn Mujahir, and the Abrabanel families. Under the Almoravids (11th century), Seville was a major cultural center. Seville Jewry suffered the same fate as the other Andalusian communities in the wake of the Almohad conquest, being almost entirely destroyed.

Under Muslim rule the Jewish quarter was situated in the western part of the city, in the present parishes of Santa Magdalena and San Lorenzo. After the quarter ceased to exist, it was named "New Quarter" but its remains may still be seen in the Santa Cruz quarter.

In 1248 Seville was captured by the armies of Ferdinand III (1217-52). The Jewish quarter succeeded in obtaining the three mosques situated within its boundaries, which were converted into synagogues. Immediately after its capture the Christians succeeded in converting Seville into an international commercial center. Its trade extended to the ports of Spain, Portugal, and North Africa, and many Jews took part in this commerce. In 1254 Alfonso X inaugurated two annual fairs in Seville. The Jews who attended them or participated in them were granted freedom of trade and an exemption from taxes.

In 1378 the Archdeacon of Ecija, Ferrant Martinez, began anti-Jewish agitation in Seville. He called for the destruction of the 23 beautiful synagogues of the Jews and the closure of their quarter so that they would not come into contact with the Christians. The Jews of the town complained about the hatred which he fomented and the prohibitions which he issued against the residence of the Jews in the archbishopric of Seville. In 1382 John I ordered Martinez to cease his activities, but he pursued his campaign. In 1390 Henry III ordered the Archbishop of Seville to act against Martinez with firmness and restore to the Jews the synagogues which had been confiscated; the head of the church of Seville was to bear the responsibility if the order was not carried out. On June 4, 1391, the anti-Jewish disorders which were later to sweep out all the towns of the Kingdoms of Castille and Aragon broke out in Seville. The community was almost totally escaped; others converted. The synagogues were turned into churches and the churches acquired substantial real estate in the form of land, charitable trusts, shops, workshops and houses which had formerly belonged to Jews and the community. The remaining Jews of Seville were unable to recover from the persecutions of 1391 and their rehabilitation was extremely slow. On January 1, 1483, the crown acceded to the demand of the inquisition and an expulsion order was issued against all the Jews of Andalusia. A period of 30 days was given to the Jews to leave.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Jewish settlement in Seville began again. Most of the Jewish settlers came from North Africa. In addition to these families, there were also refugees from Germany who arrived there during the early 1930s. The several dozen Jews in Seville were joined in the 1960s by Jewish arrivals from Morocco and Algeria.

Little information is available on the history of the conversos in Seville during the first half of the 15th century. Until the expulsion and after it the conversos in Seville were known for their adherence to Judaism and their loyalty to Jewish law. When Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella visited Seville in 1477, the head of the San Pablo Dominican monastery in the city, Alonso de Hojeda, and others pointed out to the monarchs the religious situation in their city and requested the establishment of an inquisition. The monarchs accepted their demand, and from there addressed themselves to Sixtus IV. In 1480, two years after the authorization was granted, Miguel de Murillo and Juan de San Martin were appointed inquisitors, but it was only on January 1, 1481, that they began their merciless activities. Documents of the inquisition tribunal of Seville are not extant, but various state documents and chronicles of those days are filled with descriptions of the activities of the inquisitors and their proceedings against the conversos. Large numbers of both wealthy and simple folks were arrested, imprisoned, tried, and burned at the stake. In August 1481, when a plague broke out in the city, many conversos were authorized to leave it after they had deposited their money as a surety but a large number of them did not redeem their surety and fled to North Africa, Portugal, and Italy. The inquisition also followed the conversos to the surrounding villages; wherever it arrived, numerous conversos died as martyrs. According to a cautious estimate, over 700 men and women were burned at the stake in Seville between 1481 and 1488.

In Seville, the conversos and travelers who arrived in the harbor were spied upon and the inquisition searched every ship which entered or left. This situation continued until the abolition of the inquisition during the 19th century.



Hebrew sources: Alisana al-Yahūd (Lucena of Jews)

Originally: Eliossana – possibly from the Hebrew אלי הושענא (Elí hoshanna), “May G-d save us”

Arabic: Al Husseine (translation: the handsome one), Lujjāna, Lūsana, Alyāna

Other name: Pearl of Sepharad


A city and municipality in Andalusia, in southern Spain, S. of Cordoba


According to popular Jewish custom, probably from the old tradition of Passover cleaning, in Lucena the house was cleaned on Saturdays and houses were white washed prior to the Holy Week.


21st Century

The Jewish Necrópolis, a Jewish cemetery from the Andalusian era (7 11-11th century), Middle Ages was discovered in 2006 when a ring road was being built in Lucena. It is the largest uncovered Jewish cemetery in Spain. The Andalusian era or Al-Andalus is probably named for the Vandals who were located in that area in the 5th century. The Vandal were Germanic populations who were rulers of a North African Kingdom (beginning of 5th-beginning of 6th century). The Andalusian era which followed was the Muslim Kingdom which lasted until power was handed over to the Umayyad dynasty.

An elevated path was constructed for the Necrópolis and provides a view of the area. The 2006 finding included over 300 graves which provide information about life and burial traditions of the Jews of the area at the time. A rare finding was a Jewish gravestone with Hebrew lettering dating from around the 8-9th century. A fountain was installed for purification as provided in Sepharadi tradition and a Wailing Wall reconstructed.

In the El Moral castle, Archaeological Museum which is a fortress likewise from the Middle Ages reproductions of the gravestones of Rabbis Amicos and Lactosus can be found. A bust of Rabbi Yitzhak Alfassi, the Rif (1013-1103) who headed Lucena’s notable yeshiva is also on exhibition there. In one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, the site of an old synagogue lies which was replaced by a parish church. Lucena’s Jewish history continues to live through the cities’ crafts of traditional Channukiah lighters and bowls which were typical for the 11th century.

Lucena was named “City of the Jews” between the 9-12th centuries by Jewish and Islamic scribes alike. It was one of the few as reknown Jewish communities in Andalusia. The Palace of the Counts of Santa Ana exhibits different Jewish burials, stages of life and culture of Lucena’s Juderia. The old walls of the city with the Vela tower came to protect Lucena’s Jewish quarter to which entry was made accessible through the Blanca gate. The northern wall with the Cordoba gate was a further access point. On the perifery of the Juderia was located the Muslim quarter. The old synagogue of Lucena was replaced by a mosque and eventually with the mid-13th century subjugation by the Christians with the Church of San Mateo.

The Parroquia de Santiago, the Gothic-Mudejar church built in the early 16th century, was probably formerly a synagogue.


Notable Figures

The Lucena Juderia (in Ladino: לה ג'ודיריה, Jewish quarter) was a dominantly Jewish town which saw the Jewish population grow to become a majority in Moorish (Muslim) days. Renowned for its large yeshiva and the director the Rabbi Yitzhak Alfassi who was a famous scholar of Talmud. Rabbi Alfassi had exchanges with both the communities of Babylon and Palestine in the form of Responsa on halacha (Jewish law and tradition) providing for intellectual flourishing of the largest Jewish communities of those days.



Important Jewish community in the 11th century. During the period of Muslim rule Lucena was famous as "the entirely Jewish city," and a tradition states that it was founded by Jews. Several prominent families, including that of the historian Avraham Ibn Daud, claimed that their settlement in Lucena dated from the time of Nebuchadnezzar.

Isaac Abrabanel linked the derivation of the name of the town with the biblical town of Luz. Until the 12th century Lucena was a cultural center of Andalusian Jewry. In 853 Natronai Gaon wrote "that Alisana (Arabic for Lucena) was a Jewish place with no gentiles at all." In another Responsum the Gaon asked, "is there a gentile who prohibits your activities? Why do you not establish an eruv chatzerot? " (Teshuvot Ge'onei Mizrach U-ma'arav (1888), para. 26). The 12th-century Arab geographer Idrisi also commented on the Jewish character of Lucena and stated that while Muslims lived outside the city walls, Jews generally lived in the fortified part within the walls. Menahem b. Aaron Ibn Zerah reports the same information at the end of the 14th century (Tzeidah La-Derekh (Ferrara, 1554), 150). The Jews earned their living from olive groves, vineyards, agriculture, commerce, and crafts. Lucena was distinguished by its scholars.

In the mid-ninth century Amram Gaon sent his prayer book in response to a question by a scholar of Lucena. His contemporary Eleazar b. Samuel Churga of Lucena received the titles alluf (demin ispania) and rosh kallah, and became famous in the Babylonian academies. In the 11th century Isaac b. Judah Ibn Ghayyat taught in the yeshivah of Lucena. He was succeeded by Isaac Alfasi who was followed by Joseph Ibn Migash. In 1066 the widow of Joseph b. Samuel Ha-Nagid and her son Azariah were among the refugees who came to Lucena in the wake of the anti-Jewish outburst in Granada (Abraham Ibn Daud, Sefer Ha-Qabbalah The Book of Tradition, ed. G. Cohen (1967), 77).

The last King of the Zirid dynasty, Abdallah, reported an uprising of the Jews of Lucena during his reign - at the time of the expedition against the Almoravids (c. 1090). At the turn of the century a contemporary of Ibn Migash, the Almoravide ruler, Yusuf Ibn Tashfin (1061-1106), demanded that the Jews convert to Islam. But the community was saved in exchange for a heavy bribe. The grammarian Jonah Ibn Janach and the poets Moses and Abraham Ibn Ezra, Judah Halevi, and Joseph Ibn Sahl were active in Lucena at some time during their lives. The 11th-century Hebrew poet Abu-Ar-Rabia b. Baruch, known throughout Andalusia, lived in Lucena. In 1146 during the Almohad wars, the Jews were persecuted and many were forced to convert to Islam. The community was not able to recover. Lucena was conquered by Castile in 1240. The fate of its Jewish community during the riots of 1391 resembles that of the other Andalusian communities.


Mediterranean port in Catalonia, N.E. Spain. The Jewish settlement there was of ancient date; Jews apparently established themselves in the harbor town during the Roman era. A laver discovered there bearing the inscription "Peace over Israel, over ourselves, and our children" probably belongs to this period. Coins with Hebrew inscriptions also testify to the existence of a Jewish settlement under the Visigoths. During the period of Arab rule, Jews in Tarragona engaged in commerce and agriculture, and some owned lands and properties. Apparently for this reason it was known as a "Jewish city" (Al-Idrisi, 1152). In 850, the Jews of Tarragona aided the Arabs in the capture of Barcelona, but it was later reconquered for the Christians by Ramon Berenguer.

Tarragona passed to Christian rule in the 11th century. Its proximity to Tortosa must have influenced the size of the Jewish population in Tarragona since a number of Jews had already moved to Tortosa under Arab rule.

Most of the Jewish population lived in the upper town which was surrounded by a wall, to the northeast of the present built-up area. In the course of time, the quarter was transferred to the southern part of the town, to the streets now called En Granada, and En Talavera, including some of the alleys in this area, and the square now known as Plaza de Los Angeles. The square of the Jewish quarter is in the central part of En Talavera. This district was recently restored. In 1239 there were 95 houses in the quarter. Deeds of sale drawn up in Hebrew for lands situated in the Quarter of Israel near the city wall, and for lands and houses beyond the wall, have been preserved. On the road known as Dels Fortins in the vicinity of the Beach of the Miracles (Playa de los Milagros), a Jewish cemetery existed for many generations; several of its tombstones have been preserved from the 13th to 14th centuries. Apparently the stone of a washing well which was probably situated in the courtyard of the synagogue should for endorsing the kashrut of matztzot shemurot was discovered in the neighborhood of Tarragona.

In Tarragona, as in other places of Catalonia, Jews held the position of bailiff (Vidal Bar Judah, 1187; Bonafos Bar Judah, 1192); several deeds of sale bearing their signatures are extant. In 1235 delegates of the church convened in Tarragona to discuss the interest rates charged by Jewish moneylenders. At this convention the rates which had been fixed in 1228 (20%) were ratified, but Christians were still authorized to take an interest rate of 12%. Any Jew who disobeyed this order was to be condemned to servitude and confiscation of his property. It was then also decided that any Jew who adopted Islam would be condemned to servitude for life; the same sentence would be applied to a Muslim who adopted Judaism. This anti-Jewish policy is also expressed in a bull which Benito de Rocaberti, archbishop of Tarragona, obtained from Pope Urban IV in which the Jews were ordered to wear a badge to distinguish them from Christians. On frescoes in the cathedral of Tarragona paintings are found in which Jews are distinguished from the other personalities by a white circular sign. In 1267 Pope Clement IV ordered the archbishop of Tarragona to collect the books of the Jews throughout the Kingdom of Aragon and to hand them over to the Dominicans and Franciscans; Pablo Christiani was proposed as his assistant in this activity.

In its relations with the monarchy, the community of Tarragona obtained from James I in 1260 an exemption from the obligation to accommodate the royal house and to provide it with linen and other objects at the time of his visit to the city. The King even authorized the community to close the gates of its quarter. In taxation matters, Tarragona belonged to the Collecta of Barcelona; the regulations by which the community was governed were also modeled on those of Barcelona (Solomon b. Abraham Adret, Responsa, pt. 3, no. 411).

In 1313 the archbishop of Tarragona and the inquisitor Juan Llotger issued a decree ordering that Jews of Tarragona and Montblanch who had been involved in assisting proselytes and conversos to return to Judaism should have their properties confiscated and be banished for life from the Kingdom. However, the expulsion order was limited by James II to the region of Tarragona. The order was issued against ten Jews. A heavy fine was imposed on the community and one of its synagogues was confiscated and converted into a church. Even Jews who had been forcibly converted at the time of the Pastoureaux persecutions (1320-21) and later returned to Judaism were called to account by the inquisition. Many of them fled, while others were condemned to death and their houses were to be destroyed by fire. The King, however, ordered an alleviation of their punishment; he fined them and permitted their heirs to redeem their confiscated property for a sum of 15,000 solidos. In the persecutions whichfollowed in the wake of the Black Death in 1348, 300 Jews of Tarragona and neighboring Solsona were massacred. The Jews of the town were nevertheless ordered to pay 150 solidos in Barcelona currency to the royal treasury. In 1363 Pedro IV demanded a further 1,000 livres in this currency. Despite this grave situation, a Jew was still holding the position of municipal physician in 1374.

In 1388 King John I of Aragon granted the community of Tarragona the same rights as those of Barcelona. Shortly before the outbreak of the anti-Jewish persecutions which swept Spain in 1391, the archbishop of Tarragona instituted legal proceedings against a number of works of Maimonides "because it is said that certain errors against the Christian faith had been found in them". When the persecutions broke out, the Jews of Tarragona took refuge in the citadel in fear of attack by the rioters. They addressed a letter of appeal to the King, asking for his protection, and John I notified the community (July 24) that he had placed them under special protection of the archbishop, the royal officials, and the municipality, and ordered that rioters and agitators should be tried and condemned as rebels against the royal authority. On September 22, however, he commanded the vicarius of Tarragona to gather information on the heirless Jewish property which had remained after the disorders and to transfer it to him. He expressed a particular interest in the property of those who had been martyred and the property of the community.

After the persecutions, measures were taken to reestablish the Jewish settlement in Tarragona. Queen Violante promised the Jews "who lived there or who would settle there in the future" a tax exemption for a duration of five years (August 13, 1393). On October 27 she authorized the Jews who had settled there to raise funds in other communities for the erection of a synagogue, the purchase of a torah scroll and other books, and for the redemption of the cemetery. During the second half of the 15th century - a difficult period for the Jews of Aragon, as for the whole of Spanish Jewry - Isaac Arama held rabbinical office in Tarragona. He maintained a yeshivah and fostered observance of the precepts within the community. At the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 Tarragona was a port of embarkation for the exiles from the Kingdom of Aragon.


A town in Castile, N. Spain, near the border of Navarre.

Its Jewish community was one of the most ancient in Castile. In 1145, Joseph Rayuso served as Merino (royal official) in Calahora, and according to some sources Abraham Ibn Ezra died there in 1167. Jewish owners of vineyards, real estate, and shops are found in Calahora from the beginning of the Jewish settlement. In letters to the church authorities at Tudela (1252) and Burgos (1264) Popes Innocent IV and Urban VI requested them to oblige the Jews and Moors of Calahora to pay a tithe to the diocese on property acquired from Christians. Hebrew deeds of the 13th-14th centuries record the conveyance of vineyards, gardens and real estate by Jews to members of the city council and local ecclesiastical institutions. In this period there were over 50 Jewish families living in Calahora. In 1290 the tax paid by the community amounted to 14,590 maravedis.

According to a document of 1320, two Jews and two Christians were appointed to supervise the building of a new mill, for which the Jewish community contributed a sum of 750 maravedis. From 1323 the community paid an annual levy of 200 maravedis for the war with Granada. In 1327 Alfonso XI imposed a special levy of 100 maravedis on each synagogue in the town, as well as on every church and mosque, for the war against the moors. A distinctive local administrative arrangement was the method of collecting the annual impost of 30 denari on the Jewish badge which the community itself contracted to levy and farmed out on an eight-year term.
In 1370 a large number of Jews left Calahora for the Kingdom of Navarre. Queen Joanna of Navarre gave the refugees protection and also exempted them from the annual tax of two florins for the first two years. No details about the Calahora community during the anti-Jewish riots in Spain of 1391 are available. Their economic position that instead of paying 5,202 maravedis annually the community would pay a lump sum of eight maravedis of silver from 1434 to 1439, afterward reverting to the original sum. Toward the end of the reign of henry iv the annual tax was reduced to 3,000 maravedis (1474) because of the difficult times. At the expulsion from Spain, the Jews left Calahora on July 2, 1492. On August 7, Ferdinand of Castile ordered the conversion of the synagogue into a church. Persons who settled in the Jewish quarter received special tax relief and in 1497 the King granted them exemption from taxes.


A town in old Castile, N. Central Spain.

Nothing is known about the beginnings of the Jewish settlement in Soria. During the 12th century the Jews there benefited from a number of rights which were mentioned in several articles of the town fuero (charter). This also included regulations concerning jurisdiction over, and protection of, the merchants who came to trade in Soria. At first, the Jewish quarter was situated in a fortress, where about 50 families lived during the middle of the 13th century and throughout the 14th. At that time there were 700 families in the town. Jews continued to live there until the expulsion. During the second half of the 13th century, Soria was renowned for its Kabbalists. According to tradition, Jacob Ha-Kohen was born there. Toward the close of the 13th and early 14th century. Shem Tov b. Abraham Ibn Gaon lived in Soria; there was also a school of Jewish illuminators who were members of this family.

The 39,895 maravedis levy imposed on the Soria community in 1290 is an indication of its economic strength. According to an estimate of F. Cantera, there were over 1,000 Jews living in the town at the close of the 13th century. Their occupations included trade, the cultivation of vineyards, and crafts. During the civil war (c. 1366-69) between the brothers Pedro the cruel and Henry of Trastamara, one of the tax farmers of Soria, Samuel Ibn Shoshan joined Pedro's camp and was compelled to flee from the Kingdom after Henry's victory.

Although devastated by the persecutions of 1391, the community appears to have recovered gradually, and in 1397 they were granted certain rights in respect of their quarter in the fortress by Henry III. A leader in the rehabilitation of the community was Don Abraham Benveniste, who organized a convention of the delegates of the communities of Castile in Valladolid in 1432. Several of the inhabitants of Soria were important tax farmers. In 1465 Henry IV exempted the Jews of Soria from some taxes in appreciation of their services to the crown. Since the tax imposition in 1474 was 5,000 maravedis it would appear that the community no longer ranked among the largest and wealthiest. In 1490, however, it paid 80,915 maravedis. The anti-Jewish policy adopted by the crown from the 1470s was echoed in Soria by the restriction of the Jews to a special quarter and by the actions and attitude of the municipal council vis-a-vis the local Jews. In 1485 a levy of 308,000 maravedis was imposed on ten Jews of Soria to cover the expenses of the war against Granada. During the same year Ferdinand and Isabella authorized the Jews to maintain workshops and shops in various quarters of the town on the condition that they did not work on the Christian festivals and did not eat or sleep in these quarters. At the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492) the Jews of Soria probably left for the Kingdom of Navarre and Portugal. The crown ordered that debts still owed to Don Isaac Abrabanel and other Jews in Soria be collected for them.


Capital and city of the former Kingdom of Murcia, S.E. Spain.


21st Century

Initiated in 2000, the Murcia: Three Cultures festival was launched to celebrate the interfaith harmony of medieval days, the epoch when Murcia was ruled as a semi-autonomous Kingdom. When racism recently arose in the area the Three Cultures festival was seen as an act to mitigate these. Similarly, the region was also from where some al-Qaida suspects had come from. The 2003 festival featured a number of Klezmer bands, Israeli artist David Broza and Sephardi performers alongside opera singer African-American Barbara Hendricks. Historically, Jews in the adjacent city of Lorca had acted with as intermediaries between the Muslim and Christian populations.

The only Mediaeval synagogue in the southern area of arid Murcia was discovered in the city of Lorca. Glass, ceramic and metal pieces from the inhabitants of the Jewish quarter were also unearthed. The 14th century synagogue is located within fortified walls of a Mediaeval castle. The complex is rectangular shaped with two entries and adjacent to a courtyard with one entry leading to a foyer with a fountain used to cleans hands in preparation for prayer. The central area held the aron ha-kodesh (holy ark) with the torah scrolls on the eastern wall. The bima (reading platform) was on the other side and between the Via Sacra. On top the matroneum (women’s gallery) has entry through a further entry. Also unique is that this castle synagogue is the only non-reused religious building, as was hardly the case in the history of the 13-15th centuries Spain. Commonly found for the Reconquista period (722-1492) was for churches to be constructed on top of mosques. In the case of the Mediaeval synagogue, it was built underground to provide for the law as not to exceed the height of the churches. Thus this synagogue was exceptionally preserved providing for an agreeable touring of the streets of this archeological Jewish quarter.

Reconstructing medieval synagogues in the Iberian Peninsula is a complex task with scarce materials remaining. A new method of studying synagogues in the Iberian area has been proposed. Given lacking Responsas (written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars) to provide with information and only the synagogue of Tomar in Portugal and the El Transito synagogue of Toledo having been preserved, other methods have been applied. Synagogues consecrated in the Sepharadi diaspora, in Europe, Asia, Americas provide for ideas about rituals, interior design and construct of synagogues.

First candles of Channukah were lit in the newly discovered synagogue of Lorca in December 2012 after over five centuries.



The Kingdom was first taken from the Muslims (1243) during the reign of Ferdinand III of Castile. After the revolt of the Muslims, it was reconquered by James I, King of Aragon, who handed it over to Castile in 1265.

Among those who assisted the King in his conquest of the region were Judah de la Cavalleria, who lent money for outfitting the navy in the war against the Muslims, and Astruc (or Astrug) Bonsenyor (d. 1280), father of Judah Bonsenyor, who conducted the negotiations with the Muslims for their capitulation, and who was also translator of Arabic documents in the Kingdom. Jewish officials of the Kingdom of Aragon met with Jewish officials of the Kingdom of Castile in the town, and in 1292 Moses Ibn Turiel of Castile held important administrative positions there.

Alfonso X of Castile (1252-84), son-in-law of James I, allocated a special quarter for the Jewish community, explicitly ordering that Jews were not to live among the Christians. However, at the time of their settlement various Jews received properties in the Jewish quarter and beyond it, in the town itself. A site was also allocated for the Jewish cemetery. Once the regulations of the settlement had been stipulated, an annual tax of 30 dinars was imposed on every Jew. Jews were also compelled to hand over tithes and the first fruits of all their possessions and herds to the cathedral, as was customary in Seville. In 1307 jurisdiction over the Muslims of the Kingdom of Murcia was entrusted to Don Isaac Ibn Vaish, the last Jew to hold such a function. Toward the close of the 14th century, several Jewish tax farmers were active in the Kingdom and in the town, among them Solomon Ibn Lop, who settled in Majorca after 1378 and who was granted the special protection of the King of Aragon.

During this period, the Jews of Murcia were noted for their generosity in the redemption of prisoners and for their participation in maritime trade; this was in addition to their usual occupations in commerce, crafts, and agriculture. Although there are no details available on how the Jews of the town fared during the persecutions of 1391, the community continued to exist after that time. Some 2,000 Jews earned their livelihood in a great variety of activities. Close mutual relations were maintained with the Christian population, and two of the community elders attended the meetings of the municipal council. Throughout the 15th century Jews of Murcia were often tax farmers, both in the Kingdom of Murcia and in other towns near and distant. In 1488 Samuel Abulafia was taken under the protection of the catholic monarchs for two years in appreciation of his services to the crown during the war against Granada.

Solomon b. Maimon Zalmati printed Hebrew books in Murcia in 1490. Details on the departure of the Jews from Murcia at the time of the expulsion are unknown but it may be assumed that they left from the port of Cartagena. After the expulsion, debts owed by Christians to the Jews were transferred to Fernando Nunez Coronel (formerly Abraham Seneor) and Luis de Alcala for collection. Murcia also had conversos, some of whom remained faithful to Judaism. Conversos even used to come there in order to return to Judaism; one such case is mentioned in the La Guardia trial (1490). At an early date, an inquisition tribunal was established at Murcia.


Eliberis, Illiberis

A town in Andalusia, Spain, near Granada.

The church council convened in Elvira in 300-303 (or 309) issued canons forbidding marriage between Christian women and Jews unless the Jew first adopted Christianity; prohibiting Jews from keeping Christian concubines; from entertaining at their tables Christian clergy or laymen; and from blessing fields belonging to blessings were to be excommunicated. These were the earliest canons of any church council directed against the Jews.

A Jewish community still existed in Elvira at the time of the Muslim conquest. Its scholars corresponded with Saadiah Gaon in the tenth century, as attested by Abraham Ibn Daud in Sefer ha-Kabbalah (ed., G. D. Cohen (1967), 79). In the course of time the Elvira community became merged in that of Granada.


A town in W. Spain, near the Andalusian border. Jews lived in Llerena throughout the 13th-15th centuries, up to the expulsion in 1492. In 1474 the annual tax paid by the community amounted to 3,500 maravedis. It increased to 35,820 maravedis in 1491, probably because Jews recently expelled from Andalusia had settled in the city. A Jew of Llerena, Gabriel-Israel, served as interpreter to Ferdinand and Isabella during the war with Granada, and won the King's esteem. There were also conversos living in Llerena.

Toward the end of the 16th century a permanent tribunal of the inquisition was established there which became one of the most active in Spain. David Reuveni was imprisoned in the inquisitional dungeons in Llerena from 1532, and from 1631 onward a large group of fugitives from Badajoz was tried by the Llerena tribunal with tragic results. As late as 1652 six fugitive judaizers were burned in effigy, at an auto-da-fe in Llerena, together with the bones of a woman who had died in prison.


City in Spain, formerly capital of Old Castile.

Information about Jewish settlement in the neighborhood of Burgos dates from 974, and in Burgos itself from the 11th century. The Jews then resided close to the citadel of Burgos, while in the 12th century they moved to the fortified enclosure of the castle. It was here that the emissaries of the Cid raised a loan from certain Jews to finance his campaigns. In 1200 a Burgos Jew was acting as almoxarife (collector of revenues) and Todros b. Meir Abulafia, also connected with the court, was living here at this time.

During the 13th century the Burgos community became the largest Jewish center in North Castile. Some 120-150 families lived there at the end of the century, occupied as merchants, tax farmers, and physicians, and owning real estate and vineyards. During the reign of Ferdinand III (1217--1252) they paid a regular tax of 30 denarii to Burgos cathedral, and from 1282 also a tithe to the church. The rabbis of Burgos appointed the administrative officers (muqaddimin) of the Sahagun community, a day's journey distant, and the bet din of Burgos also served Sahagun. The non-Jewish authorities assisted in enforcing adherence to Jewish observances by the community when necessary, and sometimes imposed fines on offenders. In the second half of the 13th century the Kabbalist Rabbi Moses b. Solomon b. Simeon, a disciple of Rabbi Jacob Ha-Kohen, was living in Burgos, while many kabbalists were to be found in the small towns of the vicinity. In 1325 Alfonso XI bestowed an annual grant of 4,000 maravedis on the convent of Santa Maria La Real, out of the yearly tax paid by Burgos Jewry; the grant was subsequently increased by a further 1,000 maravedis from the same source.

During the Civil War for the Crown of Castile (1366-68) the city supported Pedro. When Henry captured Burgos he to meet this demand the community was forced to sell the crowns and ornaments on all the torah scrolls, except the celebrated Scroll of Ezra the Scribe. In addition Henry declared a moratorium on Jewish loans to Christians, ruining the Jewish creditors. When Henry was forced to leave Castile, Burgos again passed to Pedro, and on Henry's second entry he was attacked from the Jewish quarter and the fortress, which only surrendered after the walls had been destroyed. In 1379 new restrictions were enforced and Jewish trading outside the Juderia was prohibited.

During the persecutions of 1391, the Jews of Burgos took refuge in the houses of the Christian merchants. A small number were martyred. Some were baptized and later settled in a special quarter for conversos. In 1414 many Jews became converted through the activities of Vincente Ferrer.
During the 1440s only 23 heads of families are recorded as liable to pay tax. Several Jews are known to have practiced as physicians in the 1450s and 1460s. In 1485 the Jews of Burgos and district paid 56.5 castellanos toward the cost of the war with the Moors in Granada, and both Jews and Moors were forbidden to engage in commerce, ostensibly in order to keep prices low. Toward the end of the 1480s even more severe restrictions were imposed on the Jewish residents, until the municipality was directed by the crown to alleviate their condition. The majority of the Jews of Burgos adopted Christianity after the edict of expulsion of 1492; those who remained in the faith left, presumably for Portugal. The conversos in Burgos adapted themselves to Christianity, and few were tried by the inquisition.


City in Castile and Leon, northwestern Spain, near the Portuguese border, capital of the province of Zamora.


Although the Jewish community of Zamora was dispersed in 1492 with the expulsion from Spain, recently, within the city of Zamora, there has been a revival of interest in its Jewish past and heritage. In 2013 the first international congress on “Zamora Jewish Life: History and Re-encounters” was held in the city, and it has become an annual event.

Areas of Jewish significance in the town are now signposted and marked by metal pillars erected by the Zamora municipality. At the end of 2013 the “Centro Isaac Campanton for Studying, Preserving, and Communicating the Jewish Legacy of the City and Province of Zamora Spain” was established. It is working on the creation of a Jewish museum in the city with the support of the city council.

The city has put up a plaque in memory of Jews who perished in the Holocaust.  In 2015 the University College of Zamora held an exhibition honoring Spanish diplomats who saved Jews from the Nazis, including Angel Sanz Briz, who rescued over 5,000 Jews in Hungary.

As a result of these developments, in 2017 the province of Zamora was a awarded the Medal of the Four Synagogues by the Sephardic Community of Jerusalem.



The Jewish community of Zamora probably dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries, although there is a tradition that Jews came to Zamora in antiquity. There is legend that they helped build the walls surrounding the city as evidenced by Hebrew letters carved into some of the stones.

The Jews that came to Zamora may have been escaping the Moorish invasions. They may also have been drawn by the policies on settlement of Ferdinand I of Leon (1015-1065). The assumption is that the Jewish community was founded in the same period as those of Najera and Salamanca. 

The date when the first Jewish quarter was erected is not known. It was situated outside the town walls on the site known as Vega and consisted of a separate group of houses as well as a synagogue and a cemetery. 

During the course of  the community's existence, there were three synagogues constructed, one of which was registered in the office of Sancho IV of Castile in 1283.

In 1313 a church council held in Zamora adopted a series of decisions designed to end all social interaction between Jews and Christians. Jews could no longer use Christian names.  Jews were excluded from participation in all state occasions. Jewish women were forbidden to wear ornaments of gold, silver or pearls.  An existing edict enforcing the wearing of a distinctive badge was to be maintained, as well as measures concerning payment of a tithe to the church, restrictions on the interest rate Jews could charge, and the transfer of newly built synagogues to the possession of the state.  The council rejected however the request of Pope Clement V to cancel all debts owed to Jews. These decisions of the  church council influenced the decisions of the Cortes (legislative body) which was convened in that same year.

In the 14th  and 15th  century Zamora was a center for Jewish learning.  The leading religious leader of its Jewish community and head of its yeshiva was the long-lived Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob Campanton (1360-1463) author of the Darke ha- Talmud. He was known as the “Gaon of Castile.”  Under his guidance the yeshiva became renowned for religious scholarship and  introduced a unique method of Talmud study that spread to the rest of Castile.

In 1391  anti-Jewish riots and massacres began in Seville and spread to other Spanish cities. The direct effect on those living in Zamora is not known, but it is probable that many Jews converted to Catholicism and were baptized. The amount of tax which the community paid thereafter declined.

One of the most prominent Jewish scholars of Zamora who at the beginning of his career taught at its yeshiva was Isaac ben Moses Arama (1420-1494).  He is known as the Akedat Yitzhak on account of the philosophical and homiletical commentary of that name that he wrote on the Torah.

In 1484 a Hebrew printing house was set up in Zamora, an indication of the town’s importance as an active Jewish cultural center.

 In 1485 an order issued originally by John II was confirmed; it exempted the Jews of Zamora from providing accommodation for public personalities, with the exception of the King, the Queen, and the members of the royal council.

Rabbi Abraham Saba (1440-1510?) was a renowned Kabbalist who preached in Zamora, and who later wrote a commentary on the Torah infused with the painful experiences from his own life and his sufferings in exile. He recounts that his brother, Saul Saba was tried in Zamora in 1485 for giving false testimony and sentenced to death.  Abraham Saba appealed this judgment claiming that the trial had been conducted without a defense lawyer. 

In 1490 a unique lawsuit concerning a Jewish woman of Zamora was brought before the crown. She accused Jacob ibn Meir, the son of Isaac of Valladolid, an inhabitant of Zamora, of ravishing her, promising to marry her, and breaking his promise.

 In 1490 the community of Zamora along with that of Seville, contributed toward the redemption of Jewish captives who had been taken in Malaga. In 1491 the Jews of Zamora, in conjunction with Jews from other communities in the region, paid a sum of 100,650 maravedis toward financing the war of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castilla against Granada, then the last Muslim stronghold in the Iberian peninsula.

In 1492, following the edict of expulsion from Spain, the Jews of Zamora went to Portugal, and the property of the community was handed over to the prosecutor of Zaragoza.

At the end of 1492 Zamora became a transit center for Jews who returned from Portugal to Spain having yielded to the pressure to convert to Catholicism.

One of the exiled natives of Zamora who refused to convert and achieved fame during the early 16th century for his scholarship was Rabbi Jacob ben Solomon ibn Habib (c. 1450-1516). He eventually found refuge in Salonika in the Ottoman Empire and was the author of the Ein Yaakov, a work on the Aggadic material in the Talmud.


A town in N. Castile, Spain.

Castrojeriz had one of the earliest Jewish communities in Spain. In 974 the count of castile ruled that the fine imposed for killing a Jew should not exceed that for a Christian peasant. On the death of King Sancho the great in 1035, the inhabitants of Castrojeriz broke into one of the King's residences near Burgos, killing four of the King's officials and 60 Jews. The survivors were compelled to settle in Castrojeriz. The inhabitants of Castrojeriz were exempted from the fines imposed on them for taking part in anti-Jewish riots after the death of Alfonso vi in 1109.

In 1118 Alfonso VII extended the privileges granted to the city of Toledo to Castrojeriz. These prohibited a Jew or new convert to Christianity from holding a position of authority over Christians, and established legal procedures for cases involving Jews and Christians. In 1240 Ferdinand III ordered the Jews in Castrojeriz to continue to pay 30 dinars annually to the local church.

Nothing is known about the fate of the community during the anti-Jewish riots that occurred in Spain in 1391. The community subsequently declined and in 1485 the small sum of 23 castilianos was levied as tax for the war against Granada. After the decree of expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, instructions about the payment of Jewish debts were issued to the mayor.


In Galician: Ourense

A city in Galicia, N. W. Spain. Jews had apparently settled there by the 11th century, and in 1044 were living in the nearby fortress. Until the 1460s, no further information is available on the community which during that period probably consisted of some 30 to 40 families. In 1474, its annual tax, together with that paid by the Jews of Rivadabia, Monforte, and Allariz, amounted to 2,000 maravedis. This decreased to 1,000 maravedis in 1482, and rose to 13,500 maravedis in 1491, apparently because of the obligation to contribute to the expenses of the war against Granada.

In 1489 a writ of protection was granted to the community of Orense against the attempts of several knights to attack the Jews of the town; the governor of Galicia was ordered by the catholic monarchs to protect them. The Jewish quarter, which until 1488 bordered upon the Rua Nova, was then transferred to another site next to the Fuente del Obizpo, and the local Jews were given a period of grace to settle there. A fine of 3,000 maravedis was to be imposed on those who refrained from obeying this order. The quarter remained on that site until the expulsion in 1492.

Carrion de los Condes

A town in Castile, N. central Spain, near Burgos.

The community was in existence in 1225 when its privileges served as the model for those granted to the nearby community of Sahagun. A number of Jews from carrion were allocated property after the Christian reconquest of Seville and Jerez de la Frontera in 1266. In 1290 the communities of Carrion, Saldana, and Monzon were paying a sum of 91,987 maravedis in annual taxes and services. This was the period of the activity of the Shem Tov Ardutiel (Santob de Carrion), author of the Proverbios Morales. The Carrion community was attacked during the anti-Jewish riots in Spain of 1391, but revived in the 15th century, when a number of Jews there were engaged in tax farming on a large scale. The community was excluded from relief from certain imposts granted to the other inhabitants in 1453.

In 1486 the community paid a forced levy of 11,692 maravedis for the war with Granada, and this sum reached 13,500 in 1490. In 1488 the crown renewed the exemption, accorded by Juan II and Henry IV, of the Jewish community from the duty of furnishing accommodation, clothing, and salaries for the corregidor (military commandant) and tax officers. After the decree of expulsion of the Jews from Spain in March 1492, some Jews of carrion were accused of failing to defray their share of the alcabala (indirect taxes). In the same period an order was given by the crown that Jewish debts should be speedily settled.


Town in N. Spain, west of Burgos.

It is not known when Jews first settled there, but as early as 1222 Ferdinand III extended his protection to 20 Jewish families who went to stay in Burgos. He granted them the same rights as were generally enjoyed by the Jews in Castile. Important evidence, possibly the oldest of its kind in Castile, indicates that in 1240 Ferdinand ordered the community of Villadiego to pay 30 denarii yearly for the benefit of the cathedral of Burgos. In 1290 there were 20 Jewish families in Villadiego, who lived in a separate quarter close to the city walls.

In the war between the brothers Pedro and Henry (1366-69) the community was destroyed by English soldiers serving under Pedro. It recovered around 1390, when it again numbered 20 Jewish families. During the 15th century some Jews of Villadiego served as tax farmers. In 1485 the community, then one of the smallest in northern Castile, contributed a special impost of 23 castellanos toward the war
against Granada. In 1491 it paid an annual tax of 6,020 maravedis.


Reino de España - Kingdom of Spain

A country in the Iberian peninsula in southwestern Europe, member of the European Union (EU).

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 11,500 out of 46,500,000 (0.02%). Main Jewish umbrella organization:

Federacion de Comunidades Judías de España (FCJE) - Federation of the Jewish Communities of Spain
Phone: 34 91 700 12 08
Fax: 34 91 391 57 17
Email: [email protected]



The Jews of Spain

711 | The Golden Age

Archaeological evidence from the Roman and Visigoth periods indicates Jewish life in Spain long before the so called “Golden Age” (which began in the 10th century, lasting until the 12th century). For instance, according to tradition, one of the most famous families in the history of Spanish Jewry, the Abarbanels, migrated to the Iberian peninsula back in 2nd Temple times. However, discussion of the Jews of Spain is customarily opened with the days following the Muslim conquest in 711 CE, when they experienced a significant improvement of fortunes.
Among the greatest Jewish figures of the Spanish “Golden Age” were Hasdai ibn Shaprut, Samuel ibn Naghrilla (aka Samuel HaNagid), Shlomo ben Aderet (aka the Rashba, after the Hebrew acronym of his name), Don Isaac Abarbanel, Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra, the poet Shlomo ibn Gabirol (aka Avicebron or Avencebrol in medieval Latin sources) and Yehudah HaLevi. While all these are well-known to residents of Israel and tourists alike, mostly as names of streets, hospitals or other public places, it is sometimes forgotten that not only were these real men, flesh and blood, but that they were giants of human spirit as well: philosophers, poets, translators, interpreters of scripture and physicians, men of many talents who shaped the spiritual, religious, and cultural shape of the Jewish people throughout the generations to come.

915 | Between Science and Faith

One of the unique features of Jewish culture in Spain during the “Golden Age” was the seamless combination of science and faith. A Jew in Spain in those days could be a ruler of halacha, a rabbi and a Talmudic scholar – and at the same time engage in general philosophy, mathematics and science. Such a man, for instance, was Hasdai ibn Shaprut, a scholar, a famous physician and perhaps the first to be known as a “Court Jew” in the best sense of the word. Ibn Shaprut was the adviser of the Muslim Caliph Abd ar-Rahman III and also his personal physician.
Ibn Shaprut was born in 915 CE and worked in Cordoba in the south of Spain – the most populated and advanced city in Europe at the time. Over the years the city changed hands, but one thing all the conquerors (up to a point) had in common was close and fruitful cooperation with the local Jewish population.
Many Jews in Cordoba served as administrators, physicians, scientists and mostly as translators. Ibn Shaprut, for example, was fluent in both international tongues of the time, Latin and Arabic – a very rare skill in those days, which made his services particularly sought-after at the ruler's court.

1141 | The King Who Converted To Judaism

In 1148 the enlightened days came to an end when the cruel Almohad dynasty seized control of Cordoba and presented the Jews with two options: convert to Islam or die. Some chose the first option. Others fled south, to North Africa. Among these forced immigrants were Maimonides and Abraham ibn Ezra, an interpreter of scripture and astronomer who had a crater on the Moon named after him by NASA – The Ebenezer Crater.
The decline of the Jewish community of Cordoba marked the rise of that in Toledo, a city in central Spain that was under Christian rule. There, in 1141, one of the greatest Hebrew poets was born: Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi.
HaLevi is preeminently known author of the influential polemic “The Kuzari”, which describes a debate between the representatives of the three monotheistic religions and the king of the Khazars, at the end of which the king is convinced of the righteousness of Judaism and converts to it along with his entire nation. He was also a philosopher and a poet who composed religious verse alongside daringly explicit love songs.
Another famous poet, born 100 years before HaLevi, was Shlomo ibn Gabirol, a virtuoso wordsmith and also an important philosopher whose book of metaphysical inquiry “Fons Vitae” (“Source of Life”, or “Makor Chaim” in Hebrew) was highly popular among medieval scholars, many of whom didn't even know it was written by a Jew.

1267 | The Disputation of Barcelona

A common pastime of the intellectual elite in the Middle Ages was to hold public debates between Jews and Christians, who argued the age-old question, which religion manifests the true will of God. Most of these were held mainly to entertain the Gentiles and ridicule the Jews. A notable exception was the debate held in 1267 in Barcelona, which was relatively fair and consistent with the principles of objective argument. The subject of the debate was the Talmud, which according to the Christian position contained statements proving the truth of the Christian faith.
The Talmud and the Jews were represented by Nahmanides, Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, also known by his Hebrew acronym, the Ramban. This great rabbi, like other luminaries of the Jews in Spain, was a man of tradition and progress at once. He was considered an extraordinary interpreter of scripture and an expert in the occult teachings of Kabbalah, and also a well-educated philosopher and physician.
Opposing the Ramban was an entire team of Christian clerics, headed by the converted Jew Pablo Christiani, and was presided over by the King of Aragon himself, James I. Although the Christian side declared itself victorious, the reaction of the royal “judge” contradicts this claim, as the king gave Nahmanides a prize of 300 gold coins and declared that he “had never heard an unjust cause so nobly defended”.
Despite this show of royal favor, Nahmanides had no choice but to flee Aragon for fear of harm by the incensed “winners” of the debate. He made his way to the Land of Israel, arriving in 1267. He had time to found a synagogue in Jerusalem, which is the oldest one still standing in the city, and to finalize his great commentary on the Torah before dying in the northern port city of Acre in 1270.

1391 | Kn”a Spells Murder

In 1391 widespread pogroms took place in the city of Seville, later to be known as the Kn”a pogroms, after the Hebrew acronym of the year in which they took place according to the Hebrew calendar. These riots spread from Seville throughout the region of Andalusia, and from there to Castile and Valencia as well, claiming the lives of 250 Jews in that city alone. The rioters gave their victims a single choice: convert or die. Many Jews defiantly chose the latter option, dying as martyrs in the name of God. These pogroms heralded the establishment of the Inquisition and the Edict of Expulsion a hundred years later.
In order to understand why people choose to die for their faith one must comprehend the nature of the hostility between Judaism and Christianity vs. Islam. The latter was seen by Jewish thinkers (such as Maimonides and others) as a direct continuation of pure monotheism. Christianity, on the other hand, was seen as a form of polytheism, due to the creed of the Holy Trinity, and as idolatry, due to the worship of icons, and thus as a hindrance to salvation. Furthermore, at the center of the Jewish/Christian dispute stood the question of which was “The true Israel”. Christianity claimed that the humiliated state of Jewish existence and its lack of political power was proof of Christianity's supremacy. Jews, for their part, prayed for swift divine vengeance against the Christian “sons of Esau”. So great was the Jewish revulsion towards Christianity that a chronicle of the time tells of Jewish women who had agreed to convert, but upon stepping upon the entrance to the church were so repelled by the smells coming from it that they turned back and left.

1492 | The Edict of Expulsion

In the same year in which Christopher Columbus discovered “The New World”, the Jews of Spain were served with an eviction notice from their old home. Legend has it that Columbus had a hard time finding sailors for his historic voyage, as all ships and mariners were busy loading Jews on board to take them from Spain into exile.
The decision to expel the Jews was made by the fervently Catholic monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, who had despaired of convincing their Jewish subjects (both the old ones and those they acquired in the conquest of the last Muslim lands in the country) to accept the “true faith”. According to tradition, Don Isaac Abarbanel, a Jew who served as Spain's Treasury Minister, offered the king and queen a legendary ransom to forgo the expulsion. But then the Grand Inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada, entered the royal chamber and said to the king: “The Jews crucified Christ. Will you suffer them to remain in your country for mere money?” The King was persuaded and signed the Edict of Expulsion.
Ironically, the Jews were ordered to leave within four months, which ended precisely on the Ninth of Av, the historical day of mourning for the destruction of both Jewish temples. The implementation of the Edict was entrusted to the Inquisition, headed by de Torquemada. The Inquisition was a sort of Christian court charged with rooting out “heretics”. Those convicted of heresy were sentenced to torture or death at the stake. The Jews were also given the option to convert to Christianity. Some 50% of the Jews in Spain chose that option. Most “conversos”, as they were known at the time, assimilated into the Spanish people, but continued to suffer discrimination and hatred. A smaller group, the Anusim (crypto-Jews), maintained the tenets of Judaism in secret. Many of these paid a high price for their choice. The historic Edict of Expulsion, issued by Ferdinand and Isabella, was abolished only in 1968, 476 years after it was published.

1868 | Zero, Nada

In any census conducted in Spain in the 16th century, the number of Jews would have been zero. The same result would have shown in a census in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. Zero. Zilch. Or as they say in Spanish, Nada.
The first time since the Edict of Expulsion of 1492 in which the Jews were mentioned in a Spanish law occurred in 1924. In that year the Spanish government granted Sephardi Jews living in Alexandria and Thessaloniki the right to belong to the Spanish nation, as well as the right to move back to Spain.
56 years earlier, in 1868, the Spanish government of the time adopted the model of Enlightenment and decreed that all “non-Catholic” groups would be granted full civic equality as individuals, but not as organized communities (the Jews were not mentioned explicitly in this law).
Despite the vow never to return, a thin stream of Jews did go back to the Iberian Peninsula and in the early 20th century, the Jewish community in Spain numbered approximately 2,000 people.

1942 | Holocaust Time

History moves in strange ways. It was fascist Spain, under dictator Francisco Franco, that showed the Jews humane treatment during WW2. However, it should be noted that these displays of compassion and rescue came not from the State itself but from individuals, Righteous Among the Nations, who saved Jews out of the kindness of their heart. After the war Franco tried to latch onto these individuals and attribute their deeds to himself, in order to appear enlightened to public opinion in the West.
Among the Spaniards who risked life and limb to save Jews were some diplomats serving in Spanish embassies in the Balkan countries, where several Jews of Spanish nationality resided. Many of them were saved from the death camps thanks to the protection granted them by consuls, often contrary to official policy. Two of these diplomats, Giorgio Perlasca and Angel Sanz Briz, saved some 4,000 Hungarian Jews and issued them approximately 2,750 visas to Spain. It is interesting to note that Perlasca was not actually Spanish, but rather an Italian with Spanish citizenship, who impersonated Sanz Briz's replacement after the latter was expelled from Hungary to Switzerland.
After the war this extraordinary man was forced to live in anonymity and extreme modesty, as he had invested most of his fortune in bribing Nazi officials to save Jews. His story was revealed by an Italian journalist who wrote a biography detailing his incredible story. The book is called “The Banality of Good,” a play on the seminal work by Jewish intellectual Hannah Arendt, “The Banality of Evil.”

2014 | All In the Name

On February 7th, 2014 the Spanish government announced that it had approved an amendment to the country's Citizenship Law, under which Jews who can prove they are descended from those expelled in 1492 would be able to claim Spanish citizenship. Thus came closure of sorts to the tragedy wrought by the Spanish Expulsion in Jewish history.
As of 2016 there are between 30,000 and 50,000 Jews living in Spain. The largest communities are in Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid is currently home to three synagogues, the largest located next to the city's Jewish community center. Smaller congregations can be found in Alicante, Valencia, Melilla, Grenada, Malaga, Cadiz, Murcia, Tenerife and other cities.
Many Jewish surnames still in use today indicate roots among those expelled from Spain. Among these are Hebrew names such as Bechor, Gigi, Kimchi, Casspi, Tzedaka, Maimon, Shemes and Choresh; Spanish surnames such as Betito, Ninio, de Spinoza, d'Israeli, Ferrera and Calderon; and names related to Spanish city such as Sevillia, Toledo/Toledano, Cordoba and Kaslasi. On top of these there are names that have survived from the Muslim era in Spain, such as Ben Tolila, Algranati, Ibn Ezra, Abudraham and Alnekawe. Among those descended from the Spanish Expulsion Spanish first names remained in use for hundreds of years, such as Presiado, Hijo, Compadre and Vidal for boys, or Alegra, Palomba, Seniora and Flora for girls.

Honein, Honaine

In Arabic  هنين

Honein, situated on the northwestern tip of the Algerian coast, was the ancient port of the kingdom of Tlemcen. The kingdom gave its name to the modern province of Tlemcen, whose capital city shares the same name.

The Jewish community of Honein was formed by a large group of Spanish Jews who escaped from Spain and the Balearic Islands in 1391, when the Jewish communities experienced vicious antisemitic attacks and massacres by the Catholic church and local population. The rabbis and scholars who founded the Algerian centers of torah learning in Algiers, Tlemcen, Oran, Honein, and others, included Rabbi Ephraim ben Israel Alnaqua 1359 (Toledo, Spain – 1442 Tlemcen, Algeria), Isaac ben Sheshet Perfet (1326 Valencia, Spain – 1408, Algiers, Algeria ) and Simeon ben Zemah Duran, also Tzemach Duran (1361 Majorca –1444 Algiers). These scholars and their descendants were responsible for the flourishing intellectual communities in Algeria in the following years.

Rabbi Ephraim served as dayan (religious judge) of Honein for many years, and was the founder of the neighboring Tlemcen Jewish community, where he died.  Members of the Sasportas family also settled in Honein. Occupations included fishing, trading and shipping, with merchants who conducted trade with European countries. As a result a wealthy merchant class arose in the Jewish community. The Muslim authorities levied a tax from all non-Moslems, so all the Jews were obliged to pay except for the rabbis and the merchants.

In 1492 with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, very few refugees came to Algeria. Those who did arrive were attracted to Tlemcen. The loss of Granada to the Spanish at this time had severe repercussions for the Jews of Algeria. Incitement by Muslim religious leaders resulted in violence against the Jews,  followed by the destruction of whole communities in northwest Algeria. In 1509 the Spanish occupied Oran and  Bougie both on the coast close to Honein, and as a result the Jews of Honein fled inland to Algiers. The Spanish conquest resulted in the pillaging of Jewish property and the sale of Jews as slaves. Spanish control continued in Oran until 1708. The Jewish community of Honein ceased to exist after 1509.