A Portrait of Sepharad — Girona and Barcelona

El Call
Girona El Call



This summer I visited family in Barcelona.

Barcelona is a marvelous city that combines the old and the new, where the Gothic Quarter is near the beaches, and Gaudi and Messi are intertwined in the present.

Barcelona is part of Catalonia. The Catalan Independence Movement seeks the independence of Catalonia from Spain. When I visited there were posters in Catalan, hanging up from balconies, asking to free the political prisoners. There were many posters and Catalonian flags in Girona, a city located 99 km northeast of Barcelona, one of the centers of the independence movement.

Spain or España in Spanish, Sepharad in Hebrew is a country with a deep connection to Jewish history. Hispania or the Iberian Peninsula, that now is Spain and Portugal were the home of Jews for many centuries until the Expulsion of Jews in 1492 from Spain and 1497 from Portugal.

But the government of Spain acknowledged what happened many centuries ago and granted citizenship to Sephardi people in the diaspora who can prove connection to Sepharad. As part of its efforts there are also museums celebrating Jewish history. If you go to Barcelona I highly recommend that you visit “El Call”, the old Jewish Quarter. There is a museum run by the City explaining the history of the Jews in Barcelona. I was amazed to see the part of a plate inscribed with the word “Kasher.” (See photo)

The museum charges a small entrance fee. I suggest that you plan ahead because even on Shabbat you will need to pay the fee.

But don’t miss Girona! It is a city where Jews lived during the 10th to 15th centuries. There is a Jewish Museum and one of my favorite places is Carrer de Sant Llorenc in the center of El Call, the Jewish Quarter. The sense of history remains in the alleys and in the small streets and the stone wall surrounding the city.

Here you can see some photos of  GIRONA:


El Call Barrio Gotico- The Gothic QuarterEL CALL JEWISH QUARTER.


About the Author
Graciela Berger Wegsman is an award-winning playwright, journalist and translator. As a journalist, Graciela has written articles for many newspapers and magazines in Argentina, Israel and the USA. She has been a frequent contributor to the New York Daily News for the last several years, specializing in Latino culture. She writes her "On Being Jewish and Latina Blog." She is also a Realtor working in New York at Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
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