Spanish city to showcase nine Jewish historical sites

Signs to be erected in Zamora, one of the greatest Iberian centers of Jewish life before the Expulsion in 1492.

Zamora Spain Jewish sites 370 (photo credit: Courtesy ‘La Opinión-El Correo de Zamora’)
Zamora Spain Jewish sites 370
(photo credit: Courtesy ‘La Opinión-El Correo de Zamora’)
The Spanish municipality of Zamora will soon erect signs identifying places of Jewish historical interest, the daily La Opinión-El Correo de Zamora reported.
The time had come for the city of Zamora to make amends for those of its citizens who were forced to leave their homes in the northern province of the same name in the Castile and Leon region in 1492, Francisco Javier Gonzalez, the municipal deputy in charge of economy, commerce and tourism, told the paper.
The plan follows a promise Mayor Rosa Maria Valdeon made to members of the Reencounters and History of the Jewish Quarters of Zamora conference that took place in the city last month, organized by Cuban-American Prof. Jesus Jambrina of Viterbo University, Wisconsin.
“Zamora has a historic debt with its Jews, forced to leave the province and the country in 1492 and in the interests of justice, the few remaining sites will be marked, along with areas that have been identified through research, although there are no longer offer any visible traces,” Gonzalez told the newspaper.
NAÏF HANUKKIA, scratched out at the entrance to the Church of San Pedro and San Idelfonso in Zamora.NAÏF HANUKKIA, scratched out at the entrance to the Church of San Pedro and San Idelfonso in Zamora.
The municipality is hoping for a financial contribution to this effort from the Junta (the regional executive government) of Castile and Leon. If this happens, the signs could be put up immediately,” he told La Opinion de Zamora. If, on the other hand, the municipality has to subsidize the cost, the process will take a little longer as this quarter’s budget has already been earmarked.
Nine places have been identified for signposting, including the entrance to Valorio Park – the heavily documented site of a disappeared Jewish cemetery; Plaza San Sebastian, where the Sinagoga Mayor (Great Synagogue) once stood, as documented by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel in 1492; Plaza Santa Lucia, mentioned in 1447 as the site of four Jewish homes outside the Zamora’s Jewish quarters; Puerta de Torcuato, documented in 1376 as part of the “new” Jewish quarter; the corner of Cuesta (“slope”) del Caño and Puerta Nueva Street, where Jews lived in 1412; Cuesta de San Antolin, documented in 1483 as part of the “new” Jewish quarter; Ronda de Santa Ana, also a documented part of the quarter; and Cuesta de San Bartolome, where several Jewish families lived, including the Corcos family.
The piece de resistance is a naïf hanukkia scratched out on one of the masonry stones at the entrance to the Church of San Pedro and San Idelfonso, dating to the 11th or 12th century. Situated at ground level, this anomaly was not discovered until 2008.
A further plan, to create a study and research center named after Rabbi and Gaon of Castile Isaac Campantón (1360-1463) is in the works.
This was mentioned in La Opinion de Zamora and confirmed to The Jerusalem Post by Abraham Haim, president of the Council of the Sephardi and Oriental Communities (established in Jerusalem in 1267), on Wednesday.
Haim said that his council endorses the plan, as does the Israeli Embassy in Spain.
Haim gave a presentation on references to Succot in Don Quixote at the July conference and is honorary president of the Center for Medieval Studies of Ribadavia, Orense and of the Mount Sinai Cultural Association in Ponferrada, both in the province of Galicia, near Zamora.
Jambrina confirmed to the Post on Thursday that he has asked the Zamora Municipality to donate a site in which to house the center, and that options are being sifted.
In the meantime, Jambrina has opened an online center on Facebook called Centro de Interpretación Isaac Campantón.
In addition to the area of Zamora and the greater region of Castile and Leon, the center will connect to Zamora’s diaspora, which reaches as far as Syria, and the United States.
Although Jambrina has asked for the site to be donated by the city of Zamora, preferably in either the old or new Jewish quarters, he plans to finance it independently (through donations, memberships and so on), in order not to place too heavy a burden on the city which, after so many centuries, is beginning to understand that it was the greatest center of Jewish life and learning on the Iberian peninsula in the century before the Expulsion.