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