JWR Wandering Jews

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

After expelling Jews in 1492, Spain considers inviting them back

By Henry Chu and Batsheva Sobelman

Interior of Ibn Shushan Synagogue Built in 1190, is now a museum and known "Santa Marķa la Blanca" (Saint Mary the White). It is now owned by the Catholic Church

The government of Spain proposes to offer citizenship to descendants of Spanish Jews driven out during the Inquisition

JewishWorldReview.com |

W OLEDO, Spain — (MCT) The Jews who flock to the two medieval synagogues in this walled city are tourists, not worshipers. No one of their faith has practiced it in the temples' exquisitely decorated precincts since 1492.

That was the year King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, besides dispatching Christopher Columbus to look for a passage to India, decreed that the Jews of Spain had to either convert to Christianity or quit the country. Many fled — and were robbed, beaten or raped on the way out. Those who stayed faced possible torture and a gruesome death in the Spanish Inquisition.

More than half a millennium later, Spain says it is intent on rectifying its "historic mistake." Under a government proposal still to be voted on by lawmakers, descendants of Spanish Jews would be offered citizenship and welcomed back to the land that drove out their ancestors.

Up to 3.5 million Jews worldwide trace their lineage to Spain, although it's not clear how or when their forebears made their way there in the first place. Known as Sephardic Jews after the Hebrew word for Spain, they scattered across Europe, North Africa and farther afield. Nowadays, the highest concentration of Sephardim is in Israel.

Spanish embassies around the globe have fielded inquiries from Jews who view the proposal as a poignant gesture of contrition and reconciliation and others who see it as an opportunity to receive a European Union passport and the right to settle in any of the EU's 28 nations.

For Amit Ben-Aroya, it's both.

"It is genuinely moving, a symbolic act of reconnecting with old and curious roots, and equally exciting in terms of the opportunities this might harbor, like access to the European market," said the 40-year-old lawyer, who lives outside Tel Aviv. "And generally speaking, being able to travel with a passport that is not Israeli is certainly an advantage."

His surname derives from the Spanish word arroyo and possibly a town of that name. A man called Abou Isaac Benarroyo is documented to have lived in Toledo in the 12th century, according to Beit Hatfutsot, a museum of the Jewish diaspora in Tel Aviv.

Ben-Aroya said that after his ancestors' expulsion, they wound up in Turkey, migrated to Bulgaria and finally settled in Palestine in the early 20th century.

His grandparents, father and aunt are fluent in Ladino, a version of Spanish that many exiled Jews passed down and is readily understandable to a modern-day Spanish speaker. The family Bible, printed in Turkey in 1873, is a two-volume set in both Hebrew and Ladino.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

But exactly what the Spanish government would consider sufficient proof of Spanish heritage — and what is producible so many centuries later — is not yet clear. Possible evidence includes fluency in Ladino or a surname that clearly originated in Spain, such as Toledano, meaning a person from Toledo.

"We have no physical evidence that survived 500 years, and I am not certain anyone else has," said Ben-Aroya.

For Spain, the move to embrace the heirs of those it once disowned (or worse) offers a chance to shine a light on a dark and dusty corner of its past.

"There was a veil of silence over this part of our history, and we want to pull back this veil and give voice to those Jews," said Santiago Palomero, director of the state-run Sephardic Museum in Toledo. "This forms part of the collective memory."

The museum is housed in the spacious 14th century Synagogue of El Transito, which became a church and a hospital. With intricately carved plaster, arched windows and inscriptions in both Hebrew and Arabic, it's now one of the city's most visited heritage sites.

The other, even older synagogue, now called Synagogue of St. Mary the White, was also used as a church and is now a popular tourist stop for Jewish and other tourists who come to admire its crumbling columns and imagine the people who once worshiped there.

During the temples' heyday, Toledo was one of the great centers of Jewish culture on the Iberian Peninsula. Christians, Muslims and Jews lived in an often uneasy but largely peaceful atmosphere of religious tolerance.

Toward the end of the 15th century, however, Spain's Catholic rulers grew more insistent on Christian conformity. The Inquisition began in Sevilla in 1481; then, on March 31, 1492, the Alhambra Decree, was issued, alleging that Jews were trying to turn Christians "to their own wicked belief and conviction"; they were ordered to convert or leave.

Those who stayed and adopted Christianity, with varying degrees of sincerity, were known as conversos. Some descendants remain in Spain, but after half a millennium of intermarriage and Catholic domination, many are unaware of their Jewish antecedents.

"Here in Spain we have, like in America, very mixed blood," said Maria Royo, spokeswoman for the Madrid-based Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain.

Spain is now home to about 50,000 observant Jews. (It is also home to about 1 million Muslims, some of whom have asked why the government is not moving to extend the same right of return to descendants of those expelled in the early 1600s.)

Although outright anti-Semitism in Spain is rare these days, Royo said, unthinking prejudice remains embedded in expressions such as mercado de judios, or "market of Jews," meaning, roughly, "every man for himself." In February, the governor of the Extremadura region apologized for using the phrase at a news conference.

Spain's attempt to atone goes back to 1992, when King Juan Carlos visited a synagogue in Madrid with Israeli President Chaim Herzog and pledged that "never again will hate and intolerance provoke desolation and exile."

The push to offer Spanish citizenship is being led by Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, whose great-grandfather is credited with saving dozens of Jews from being sent to concentration camps during World War II while he served as ambassador to Romania.

The Spanish government previously has allowed some Sephardic Jews to apply for citizenship but required them to give up their current nationalities. The new proposal does not include that condition.

Although lawmakers have yet to vote on the bill, the ruling Popular Party's majority is so large that it is almost certain to pass. Moreover, the proposal has drawn virtually no opposition.

But it has triggered debate in Israel, where about half the Jewish population is Sephardic. Some rabbis have denounced Madrid's move as a cynical bid to buy an undeserved pardon. Others credit the Spanish government with earnestly trying to make amends and note that some Israelis have accepted reparation payments from Germany and even German citizenship (available since 1949) if their families had been forced to flee by the Nazis.

Tamar Alexander, a professor at Ben-Gurion University's center of Ladino culture, told the newspaper Haaretz that there was a "new wind blowing in Spain." and lauded Madrid for moving to give Sephardic Jews like her the chance to return to the "bosom of our mother and country of origin."

How many would actually take up the offer remains to be seen. The Spanish economy is struggling to regain its footing after a deep and painful recession; 1 in 4 workers — including half those younger than 25 — is out of a job.

Ben-Aroya, the Israeli lawyer, wonders whether that might figure into the Spanish government's move.

"Beyond providing historic closure, I can only guess this is partly related to the economic situation in Spain and the thought of Israeli high-tech and other fields that could offer superb growth engines for the economy," he said.

Palomero, the museum director in Toledo, holds loftier ideals. Helping Spain recover part of its past and opening its arms to the heirs of those who contributed to its history could point the way to a more tolerant, more inclusive future.

"Spain is an example of a place where we all once lived together in harmony," he said. "Democracy is quite new in Spain, and this period of democracy is a time for us to discover our multicultural roots. We can be an example to the world in this."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

© 2014, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services