05 November 2009

Spain: Preserving Jewish heritage

Newspapers are great resources historically and for current events. Tracing the Tribe likes them for keeping up with the whereabouts of friends, such as this story about Spanish architect David Stoleru.

With Dominique Tomasov Blinder (also an architect), David is the co-founder of the Zakhor Study Center for the preservation and transmission of Jewish heritage of Spain, and of the Jewish Heritage Commission of Catalunya, both in Barcelona.

Both Dominique and David are friends from Barcelona. It was good to know that David is in Israel this year on athe Mandel Leadership Institute Program, and I will recommend that our genealogy societies arrange to have him speak.

Read more about Zakhor Center here.

Just one bone to pick with the Jerusalem Post's copy editor. View the caption to the story's illustration (right). It refers to the 1492 Edict of Expulsion as the Alabama Decree instead of the Alhambra Decree. Ever wonder how many Jews were in Alabama in 1492? [insert Smiley Face here].

The Jerusalem Post story is here.
Coming to Jerusalem by way of Barcelona, Spanish architect David Stoleru plans to educate Jews of Spanish heritage about their roots, by teaching them about the historical sites abandoned after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.

Stoleru, who began his fellowship at the Mandel Leadership Institute program in September, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that during his year in Jerusalem, he hopes to promote understanding and leadership in Jewish communities around Spain and throughout the world.

"My idea in this project is to develop a concept of using these sites that show off the Jewish heritage in Spain as well as sites throughout Europe, and teach these Jews about their roots," he said.
He has worked to preserve the ancient Jewish cemetery and structures in the old city of Toledo from around the 13th century as well as the ancient cemetery of Montjuic in Barcelona. The Center's involvement in Montjuic led to Catalunya declaring it a national heritage site.

"There were no Jewish communities throughout Spain more than 500 years ago," he said. "In general, the Jews of Spain began their relationship with Judaism completely outside the strong anti-Semitism seen in Spain in the past. Most of their knowledge comes from the outside world, from people asking question and telling stories about their roots in Judaism."

An award-winning architect, Stoleru took part in the Jewish Young Leadership Seminary of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, founded the Talmudic Studies Circle in Barcelona and is a researcher and teacher of Spain's Jewish heritage.
"Restorative architecture is an important educational act," Stoleru said. "The connection to the historical heritage, especially in the context of the Spanish Jews, raises moral and educational questions.
"For me, architecture is a means to create an educational and cultural dialogue," he said.
The Mandel Leadership Institute fellowship program is in its 27th year.

Read the complete story at the link above.

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