Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

20 Teves 5760 - December 29, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Jews Return to Spain

by S. Fried

Today's Israeli visitor to Spain is surprised to discover that this country has an ever-growing Jewish community, with all of the services needed by Jews.

Spain was almost completely bereft of Jews until thirty years ago. However in recent years, Jews from Morocco as well as from Argentina and other Spanish-speaking South American countries have begun to move to Spain.

According to BaTfutzot,, there are 12,000 Jews in Spain today, the majority in Madrid (3,500) and Barcelona (3,000). Smaller communities are found in various other towns including Malaga (800), Granada, Majorca (a community of English speakers), Tourmelinos, Valencia, Seville, and Las Palmas -- the latter in the Canary Islands. In the Spanish- speaking region of North Africa, there are two more Jewish communities in the cities of Sauta and Malila.

The Spanish communities are traditional ones, and their activities center around the synagogue where prayers are conducted according to Moroccan liturgy. Although there are various Jewish organizations in Spain, there are no organizational frameworks outside of the synagogues.

The organization uniting all of the Jewish communities in Spain is the Federation, which represents Jewish interests to the governmental authorities. The Federation is headed by a general secretary, alternating every two years. Each community has an election committee. In the large communities there is also a chevra kadisha, a rav and a shochet. Communal centers affiliated with the synagogues in Madrid and Barcelona attract many members of the various communities. These centers are also associated with the Federation. In Barcelona, Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews pray separately, but in the same building. The Ashkenazi synagogue, which is on the upper floor, is active only during the yomim noraim, while the Sephardic synagogue, on the ground floor, is active on a daily basis. The Barcelona community building also has a library, a pedagogical center and a cafeteria.

The Beis Yaakov synagogue, the first synagogue to be established in Madrid since the Spanish Expulsion, was dedicated in 1968. It contains the community center, a mikveh, a library, study rooms, an auditorium, a kosher catering service as well as community offices. The Madrid communal center supplies kosher food. The community center also runs the local school, two kosher butchers, a Jewish cemetery and other services.

Synagogues active on a part-time basis are also found in Malaga, Marbella, Seville, Tourmelinos, Valencia and Malila and Sauta in North Africa, and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

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