jueves, 24 de noviembre de 2016

Honey Moon in Zamora

Bella and Amit Eshbal came to spend a few Honey Moon days in Zamora searching for Amit's RadBaz family roots. Full article here in Spanish (read)

jueves, 22 de septiembre de 2016

Now available. Author will donate profit toward the 5th International Congress celebration on July 2017

Spanish edition available at Editorial Verbum (pinchar aquí)

Here is an interview (in Spanish) with the author on La Opinión de Zamora: "Jewish presence in Zamora lasted for many centuries, many sages were born, lived and worked there"

viernes, 12 de agosto de 2016

Relevant entries on Zamora in the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906 edition)

Understanding  medieval Spain and Portugal (Sefarad in the context of Jewish History) requires familiarity with geography, maps and timeline. The map above helps to locate referred populations and historical figures in the two entries of the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906, which are relevant to Zamora. In the second entry Castile includes León since these two kingdoms were historically connected since the early 11th century

"In the former Kingdom of León (the presence of Jews) was much larger, among the most prominent communities being those of Zamora, Valladolid, Mayorga, Medina del Campo, Salamanca, Ponferrada, Bobadilla and Ciudad Rodrigo"

Section "The Spread of the Jews in Spain" under Spain entry

"The last Rabinnical authority of Castile (and León), likewise its last Gaon, was Isaac Campanton, among whose pupils were Isaac de León, Isaac Aboab (referring to the II) and Samuel Al Valensi. The last preachers of renown were the religious philosopher Joseph ibn Shem-Tob, Joseph Albo, and Isaac Arama".

Section "The Karaites in Spain" under Spain entry (1)

The number of immigrants amounted to nearly 100,000. From Castile alone more than 3,000 persons embarked at Benevento for Bragança; at Zamora, more than 30,000 for Miranda; from Ciudad-Rodrigo for Villar, more than 35,000; from Alcantara for Marvão, more than 15,000; and from Badajoz for Elvas, more than 10,000—in all more than 93,000 persons (Bernaldez, in A. de Castro, "Historia de los Judios en España," p. 143).

Section Under John II in Portugal Entry.


1- It is not clear why the Encyplopedia authors decided adding this information in this section. Campanton and its pupils were known for applying Torah, Talmud and Kabbalah to interpretations of the Scriptures.

jueves, 11 de agosto de 2016

Canpanton (Campantón), Isaac ben Jacob

CANPANTON (Campanton), ISAAC BEN JACOB (1360–1463), Castilian rabbi. Canpanton was the head of a yeshivah in Zamora in western Spain, among whose students were Isaac de *Leon , Isaac *Aboab II , Samuel b. Abraham Valensi, and Shem Tov *Ibn Shem Tov . He laid down methodological rules for the study of the Talmud which had a profound influence. These he summarized in his Darkhei ha-Talmud (called Darkhei ha-Gemara in the Mantua edition of 1593). In this work he departs from the method of previous writers on talmudic methodology, who had merely laid down talmudic rules. Canpanton systematically and logically explained the proper method of studying the text, and the pedagogical principles to be employed in that study. He was also the first to lay down methodological rules for the study of the rishonim. His system was transmitted by his students to Jacob *Berab , who introduced it into his yeshivah in Safed. Samuel ibn *Sid , the pupil of Isaac de Leon, also describes at length in his Kelalei Shemuel the method of study at the yeshivah as determined by Isaac Canpanton. A Darkhei ha-Talmud was first published in Constantinople, 1515–20 (?); a more complete edition was published in Venice in 1565. It has since been frequently republished; the 1891 edition had corrections and notes by I.H. *Weiss . Canpanton also took an active part in communal affairs. In 1450, after the death of Don Abraham *Benveniste , he became a member of the committee, along with Joseph *Ibn Shem Tov , the well-known philosopher, and Joseph b. Abraham Benveniste, appointed to apportion taxation among the Jews of Castile. He died in Peñafiel after undergoing considerable hardships. He appears to have engaged in the study of Kabbalah and miraculous deeds were attributed to him. His kabbalistic doctrine was circulated by his disciples and, in turn, by their disciples. Canpanton was greatly admired by his contemporaries, both on account of his personality and as a teacher, and he is widely quoted by them in their works on talmudic methodology. The Darkhei ha-Talmud, however, is his only extant work.


M. Rosenmann, in: MWJ, 20 (1893), 160–5; G. Scholem, in: Tarbiz, 24 (1955), 167; H.Z. Dimitrovski, in: Sefunot, 7 (1962/63), 83–96; Baer, Spain, 2 (1966), 270. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: David, in: Kiryat Sefer, 51 (1976), 324–26; Gross, in: Pe'amim, 31 (1987), 3–21; D. Boyarin, Ha-Iyyun ha-Sefaradi (1989); M. Breuer, Oholei Torah (2003), index; [Abraham David]
Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition) 
David, Abraham. "Canpanton (Campanton), Isaac ben Jacob." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 431-432. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

domingo, 7 de agosto de 2016


By Haim Beinart, Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 21. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 


ZAMORA, city in León, N.W. Spain. Its ancient Jewish community was founded in the same period as those of *Nájera and *Salamanca . The date when the Jewish quarter was erected is not known. It was situated outside the city walls on the site known as Vega, where there was a separate group of houses, as well as the synagogue of the quarter and the Jewish cemetery. Throughout the period of the community's existence, there were three synagogues, one of which was registered in the office of Sancho IV, in 1283.

In 1313 a *Church Council held in Zamora adopted a series of decisions relating to the Jews: Jews were excluded from state functions; the edicts enforcing the wearing of a distinctive *badge were to be maintained, as also those concerning payment of the tithe to the church, the interest rate, and the transfer of newly built synagogues to the possession of the state, among other measures. These decisions of the council influenced the decisions of the Cortes which was convened in that year.

There is no information available on how the persecutions of the Jews in Spain of 1391 affected those in Zamora, but they undoubtedly resulted in conversions and apostasy. The amount of tax which the community paid declined.

During the 1470s and 1480s R. Isaac b. Moses *Arama preached in Zamora. In 1485 an order issued by John II was confirmed; it exempted the Jews of Zamora from providing accommodation for public personalities, with the exception of the king, the queen, and the members of the royal council. In that year Saul Saba – a brother of Abraham *Saba , and a renowned kabbalist and preacher – was condemned to death in Zamora, but details of the accusation and the trial are not known. In 1490 a unique lawsuit concerning a Jewess of Zamora was brought before the crown; she accused Jacob ibn Meir, the son of Isaac of Valladolid, an inhabitant of Zamora, of having ravished her and promising to marry her, and of not keeping his promise. In 1490 the community of Zamora, with that of Seville, contributed toward the redemption of the Jewish captives who had been taken in *Málaga . In 1491 the community paid a sum of 100,650 maravedis toward the war with Granada, in conjunction with a number of communities in the area.

In 1492, following the edict of expulsion from Spain, the Jews of Zamora went to Portugal, and the property of the community and the exiles was handed over to the prosecutor of Saragossa.

At the end of 1492 Zamora became a transit center for Jews who returned from Portugal to Spain in order to convert to Christianity. Several exiles from Zamora achieved fame during the 16th century for their activities in Jewish centers in the Ottoman Empire, of whom the most renowned were Jacob ibn *Ḥabib and Levi b. *Ḥabib .


Baer, Spain, index; Baer, Urkunden, index; F. Cantera, Sinagogas españolas (1955), 349–53; Suárez Fernández, Documentos.[Haim Beinart]
Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition) 
Beinart, Haim. "Zamora." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 21. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 451. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

viernes, 17 de junio de 2016

Conference program

Our conference program is now available in Spanish on this link. Inquiries can be sent to centrocampanton@gmail.com or by phone 609 740 116. 

domingo, 1 de mayo de 2016

Call for Papers

Fourth International Congress
The North of Sefarad: Perspective and Definitions

July 1, 2016
Zamora, Spain

The Center Isaac Campanton and UNED are accepting proposals for the annual international congress. The title of this year’s conference is “The North of Sefarad: Perspectives and Definitions” and will take place in Zamora, Spain, on July 1, 2016.

The goal of this conference is to further explore the history and cultures of the Middle Ages Jewish communities in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. Through interdisciplinary and innovative readings, this event seeks new understandings of the Jewish Sephardic legacy in Spain and Portugal.

The organizing committee suggests the following topics, but will also consider proposals on other issues:  
  • Jewish historical figures and personalities between the eleventh and the fifteenth centuries and their contributions to Medieval medicine, sciences, politics, literature, and philosophy
  • Relations between Spain and Portugal before and after 1492
  • Emergence of Jewish Castilian and Lioness identities in the Middle Ages
  • Relevant aspects of the coexistence period in northern Spanish kingdoms
  • Role of Jews in local and regional conflicts from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries
  • Life of the Jewish communities in the Duero river basin 
Proposals should be 250 words long and include author, title, institution, and a brief abstract. Submissions by independent scholars are also welcome. Presentations should be in Spanish or Portuguese. Deadline is May 30, email: centrocampanton@gmail.com
Approval or suggestions for proposal revisions will be sent by June 15 informing the conference’s location and the registration procedure.


jueves, 24 de marzo de 2016

A Jewish Path in Zamora

by Jesús Jambrina*, Special for The Jerusalem Post, March 23, 2016

On March 6 I gave a presentation titled “Uncovering Jewish Zamora” at the La Crosse Synagogue in Wisconsin. When, in 2010 I began to look into the subject of a Jewish presence in this Spanish city of the rocky northwest, crossed by the Duero River an close to the border with Portugal, I never dreamed of the results that my curiosity would lead to. 
My first Google search on the subject of the Jewish legacy of Zamora, turned up only two results. The first was a reference to the well-known Concilio de Zamora of 1313, in which many of the prohibitions regarding the Jews that had been stipulated at the Council of  Elvira at the beginning of the fourth century were repeated. The second search result was related to the case of the “Niño de la Guardia,” a 1491 blood libel set in Toledo, in which a Zamoran Jew named Abenamías had allegedly participated. This accusation was disproved over half a century ago by Yitzak Baer, and shown to be one of many anti-Semitic fictions created by members of the infamous “Santa Inquisition” of the 15th century. [The 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia states that the entire episode is “one of the most notable and disastrous lies of history.”]
Apart from these two references which are to be found in most medieval history books which mention the subject of the Jews, there was not much more available at first glance on the Internet. This lack of information surprised me, as I personally already knew of at least one essay – dated 1992 – signed by the then-director of the Provincial Archive of Zamora, Florián Ferrero, in which bibliographies related to the Jews of Zamora are mentioned.
A few weeks later I read two books which I now consider to be classics on the subject: Juderías de Castilla y León, 1988 (“Jewish Quarters in Castilla and Leon”), by Guadalupe Ramos de Castro, which has a section dedicated to the city, and El pasado judío de Zamora,1992) (“Zamora’s Jewish Past”), by Prof. María Fuencisla García Casar, which offers a historical chronicle of the Jewish presence in the provincial capital. It was through these works – which from my present vantage point I consider to be in need of editing to update the information and perspectives on the subject – that a picture began to emerge.
There are other authors which also lent substance to my research: the studies of the late Prof. Carlos Carrete Parrondo of Salamanca University, and of Julio Valdeón Baruque of Valladolid University. In his book, Judíos y Conversos en la Castilla Medieval, (“Jews and Converts in medieval Castille”) Valdeón Baruque presents an excellent study of Castilian and Leonese Jews. 
To this Spanish bibliography one would also have to add medievalist Manuel Fernández Ladero, who has published several notable articles about Zamora and the subject of Conversos, as well Prof. Yolanda Moreno Koch and Prof. Ricardo Izquierdo Benito who have compiled several conference proceedings on the subject of Jews of Spain.
A wider bibliograhy would be incomplete without authors like the late Benzion Netanyahu (father of the present prime minister), the late Haim Beinart, and Professor Abraham Gross of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, whose book on Abraham Saba is indispensable.
When I visited the city for the first time in 2010, I was shocked by the absence of references to anything Jewish. Since I have always been interested in Jewish literature and culture from Spain, and by then knew of something of Zamora’s prestigious position during medieval times, I was curious as to why this was the case. I asked a couple of colleagues and friends in the city, including a relative of mine, and some information immediately surfaced, along with various books and articles.

Following a fruitful conversation with Ferrero Ferrero I decided to write a paper on the subject. When I returned to the United States I started to research further and realized that I had stumbled upon something more complex and that I wanted to devote more time to delve into it. Additionally, the project was a good reason for me to return to Zamora, the birthplace of my paternal grandparents.
On that first trip I also met with Mario Saban, president of Tarbut Sefarad, in Barcelona, as well as the organization’s representatives in Madrid, José Manuel Laureiro and Anun Barriuso (descendants of Crypto Jews), who encouraged me to continue with the project and offered their help. I have to say that these three friends were originally somewhat skeptical about Zamora having a significant Jewish history. 
Located at the heart of Old Castile, this is a city known for its strong Catholic culture. Celebrations around saints’ days and the Virgin Mary are very common and dominate popular festivities all year long. More importantly, its 24 Romanesque churches (the largest number of any city in Europe) drive national and international tourism. So “Good luck with anything Jewish”, I can imagine my friends and local family members thinking back then. 
However, in 2013, together with colleagues Genie Milgrom (author of My 15 Grandmothers) I organized the first international congress on “Zamora Jewish Life: History and Re-encounters” which was covered by The Jerusalem Post and local media, and caused ripples in Zamoran society. The result of the congress was a promise by then-mayor Rosa Valdeón, to signpost several areas of Jewish interest in the city. This promise was kept at the end of the 2014 congress.
Five locations, crucial to the Jewish history of a city (which until 2013 barely appeared to have any at all) are now marked by metal pillars erected by the Zamora Municipality as a direct result of the interest evidenced through the presence of these congresses in Zamora. 

Illustration included in the Bible of Cervera (Castile, and Leon, 1300) used to identified Zamora Jewish Quarters signpostings
I never imagined, when I began my research six years ago, that my efforts would bear  fruit to the point of bringing together increased numbers of local and international students of and experts in Sephardi culture and history every year since.
Among the esteemed colleagues who have taken part in our congresses are the aforementioned Gross, New York University Prof. Jane Gerber, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Prof. Ruth Behar and Universidad de Lisboa Prof. Jorge Martins, as well as many other experts on the subject of Jews and Sephardim from Spain, Portugal, the United States and Israel.
Looking towards our fourth annual event this summer, I am pleased to note that writer Gregorio G. Olmos, author of the book Yucé, el sefardí, 2016 – winner of the XXXIV Novela Felipe Trigo prize – has agreed to be our key note speaker. We also hope to see the author of the prologues of Olmos’ book: author José Jiménez Lozano – who received the renowned Cervantes Prize in 2002 – at this year’s congress.
Towards the end of 2013, and riding on the success of the first congress, the Isaac Campantón Center was created as a Jewish research center for Zamora, named after the sage Isaac Campantón (1360-1463), known as “the gaon of Castille.” The name was chosen because Campantón, as author of Darche ha-Gemara, or Darche ha-Talmud (“A Methodology of the Talmud”) he represents the flowering of the Zamoran Jewish Community in which he carried out his educational labor during the last century before the exile of the Jews from Spain.
Campantón’s book was published in Constantinople (ca. 1520), Venice (1565), Mantua (1593), Amsterdam (1706, 1711 and 1754) Vienna (1891) and Jerusalem (1981). And yet, the present residents of Zamora had never heard about him until our first congress, so far-reaching was the ethnic cleansing that occurred in Spain following 1492.
Throughout the 15th century, Zamora had attracted the most brilliant thinkers in Spain and Portugal, with Campantón being the guide of a generation and clearly responsible for the later transmission of Jewish tradition to the Sephardi Diaspora.
Among his students were Samuel Valensí, Issac Abroab II, Isaac de León, Jacob Habid and his son Leví, Moshe Alaskhar, Isaac Arama, Joseph Hayyum, Abraham Saba and the well-known converso hebraista Alfonso de Zamora, among others. No other Castilian or Leonese city can count such a battery of sages among its rosta of Jewish personalities, whose influenced can be found from Amsterdam to Safed and Istambul, and from Portugal to as far away as the Americas. A large number of the visits we get on the Campanton Center webpage are from Lithuania and parts of Russia, where the work of the Zamoran sage is well-known.
All of these subjects are discussed at our congresses, which have now become real “Sephardi days” because in addition to academic presentations we have offer concerts, exhibitions and guided tours of the Jewish quarters, along with Shabbat dinners that are open to all the participants in the congress, as well as to residents of Zamora who are interested in knowing more about this celebration – so central to Judaism.
These meals, as well as others, which organized to introduce various Jewish holidays, are directed by Abraham Haim, president of the Sephardi and Oriental Communities of Jerusalem, a regular visitor to Zamora during the year.
Other frequent visitors to Zamora include Canadian ethnomusicologist Judith Cohen, who has given various concerts in Zamora. She studies the Sephardi musical tradtion in the Mediterranean Basin, including the Zamoran-Portuguese region of Tras Os Montes, especiallly the area of La Raya (“the line”), as the border with Portugal is known. 

Judith Cohen (center), Mara Aranda (right) and Guy Mendilow (left) during a concert of Jewish Sephardic Music at the Theatro Principal of Zamora, 2014.
The second congress, in 2014, was dedicated to this region in particular, where Crypto-Judaism is second nature in various rural communities, among them Carçao, Vimioso and Braganza (in Portugal), where thousands of Castilian and Leonese  Jews took refuge in 1492.
This year, in addition to the July congress, this time titled “The North of Sepharad: Perspectives and Definitions” which will take place in Zamora city, we will once again have a panel meeting at Centro Sefarad-Israel, in Madrid, on June 27 at 7 p.m. in which experts who will speak at the Congress will preview of their subjects and answer questions.
On June 29, there will be a guided tour of the Tierra del Vino (Land of Wine) area, where, according to historic documents, the Zamoran Jews had their vineyards, and which today produces Protected Designation of Origin quality wines.
On June 30 there will be the usual tour of the Old and New Jewish quarters: Another annual activity which attracts many locals.
The congress itself will be held July 1. This year’s preliminary events will conclude with a Shabbat dinner at the Trefacio Hotel, where, as in earlier years, we hope to reaffirm the commitment to continue working for the recovery and value of the Jewish legacy of the city of Zamora.
The Isaac Campantón Center, which organizes international presentations and is a repository of all my investigation thus far can be found online at http://www.campanton.com/ 
*The writer, a Cuban American whose grandparents hail from Gema del Vino, a village in the province of Zamora, is a professor at Viterbo University, Wisconsin. In 2014 he was presented with Medal of the Four Sephardi Synagogues by the board of the Sephardi and Oriental Communities of Jerusalem for researching and publicizing Zamora’s Jewish past. His book The Jews of Zamora. An Annotated Chronology is scheduled to be published this year by Editorial Verbum in Madrid as part of the Hebrew Letters Collection. Jambrina can be contacted at centrocampanton@gmail.com

sábado, 16 de enero de 2016

Zamora among the Jewish Sephardic cultural routes in Spain

Zamora se suma a las rutas culturales de sefard'ies que quieren explorar su pasado

Toledo, Córdoba, Sevilla, Granada o Barcelona han sido la referencia histórica de Sefarad en el país, el territorio de un país imaginario nacido con los decretos de expulsión de los judíos a finales del siglo XV. El "renacimiento" del interés por lo criptojudío -aquellos hebreos que mantuvieron sus costumbres de manera oculta- ha destapado en las dos últimas décadas la existencia de una huella sefardí también en ciudades y pueblos no tan reconocibles, como Girona, Lucena o Hervás. Los congresos celebrados en los últimos años y la venida de expertos de Israel y Estados Unidos ha permitido que Zamora se una al club de los territorios que interesan a aquellos judíos que quieren revivir, de alguna manera, sus raíces. 

Esta es la apuesta del recién creado Centro Campantón, que ofrece las claves de este súbito resurgimiento. La capacidad de Internet para "unir" a comunidades de judíos sefardíes en todo el planeta, la muy reciente ley de nacionalidad en España y Portugal y el interés de los grupos de ciudadanos influyentes en Israel por conectar con la antigua Sefarad han colocado el asunto en primer plano. ¿Por qué Zamora se ha unido al mapa sefardí? "Los historiadores y estudiosos se han dado cuenta de que en Zamora había más de lo que se pensaba". Lo dice el responsable del centro, Jesús Jambrina, quien ofrece una realidad rotunda: "Salvo Toledo, ninguna ciudad ha producido tantos sabios hebreos". 



Una de las consecuencias más directas es la incorporación de la provincia a los circuitos del llamado turismo cultural. El grupo Raíces de Sefarad, que realiza viajes de carácter educativo por España y Portugal, ha trazado una ruta que comienza en Segovia y continúa por Toro, Zamora y Fermoselle, y finaliza, ya en Portugal, en Miranda do Douro y Carçao. Pero, ¿dónde reside el interés? "La cuestión de los criptojudíos está muy de moda, sobre todo, en Portugal. Es un fenómeno antropológico por el cual muchos ciudadanos reconocen sus orígenes hebreos en pleno siglo XXI", explica el arqueólogo sefardí Ami Barr. Uno de los lugares donde está sucediendo se encuentra muy cerca de la provincia: Tras os Montes. "Allí se calcula que un tercio de la población tiene orígenes judíos", añade el responsable de Raíces de Sefarad. 

Januquia en el sillar de la Iglesia de San Idelfonso y San Pedro. La pieza fue acuñada como hebrea por el historiador Álvaro López Asencio en 2009 quien la usó como protada de su libro Genealogía judía de Catalayud y Sefarad.

¿Qué tipo de personas participan en los circuitos culturales de la antigua Sefarad? "Son judíos sefardíes y askenazi -de Europa central y oriental- que regresan por motivos sentimentales", precisa Barr. La elección de los lugares tiene que ver con rutas poco conocidas y con vestigios arqueológicos. De ahí que, aunque los miembros de Raíces de Sefarad ya conocen emplazamientos como la capital o Fermoselle, tengan previsto acudir esta semana a Zamora para inspeccionar algunos presumibles restos del paso hebreo. Es el caso de la supuesta januquía labrada en un sillar de la iglesia de San Ildefonso, el baño ritual que alberga la antigua Hostería Real o la bodega de la plaza de Santa Lucía.


sábado, 9 de enero de 2016

Yuçe, the Sephardi

Gregorio González Olmos, author of Yuçe, the Sephardi (2016)

Interview with Spanish author Gregorio González Olmos, who has recently published his novel Yuçe, the sephardi, winner of the prestigious Felipe Trigo Novel Award. "This novel was born out of the need for educating on the history of Jewish Sephardic history and culture" - says González.

The story is located in the town of Cuellar, Segovia, during the 15th century. Yuçe, the main character, works for the Rab of Castile, which allows for telling how the aljamas (Jewish communities) operated in the years previous to the expulsion. Yuçe left for north Africa on 1492, but eventually returns to Spain...

González explains how during his research for writing the novel he learned of many Jewish traditions in Middle Age Spain like charity, even more common among Jews than Christians. Jewish communities were responsible for providing food and shelter for every Jew, and production from communal lands were to pay for schools. On the other hand, coexistence was real despite the animosity from Christians since Jews practiced many of the arts like shoemakers, jewelers, and shepherds, not all Jews were financiers.

Some pages of the novel are based in Zamora, where González currently lives, and where he recognizes many traces of city Jewish past.  


Yucé, el sefardí: el judío que desafió a la Igelsia

Cuando Gregorio González Olmos estudiaba Derecho en la Facultad de Valladolid, comenzó a llamarle la atención el Liber iudiciorum, un conjunto de leyes visigodas, y, en particular, la normativa contra los judíos. Aquel fue el germen mismo de su gran pasión: la cultura hebrea. Años más tarde, se dedicó por entero a recrear la vida de un judío castellano nacido en la villa segoviana de Cuéllar. A finales de 2014, las andanzas de "Yucé El Sefardí" conquistaron al jurado del Premio Felipe Trigo que organiza el Ayuntamiento de Villanueva de la Serena. El libro, primorosamente editado por la Diputación de Badajoz, lleva apenas un mes en la calle y va camino de agotarse. 


Se trata de la primera novela del autor, que reside en Zamora desde hace ocho años.Son reflexiones fruto de una actitud crítica. "No me trago el primer sapo que viene, intento pensar como lo hacían ellos acudiendo a los documentos oficiales", explica el escritor. Un esfuerzo centrado en reconstruir la vida de un cristiano viejo, tomando como modelo la obra El Mudejarillo, de su idolatrado Jiménez Lozano. Yucé nace en una comunidad judía de Cuéllar y su existencia da un giro cuando los Reyes Católicos obligan a todos los judíos, a través de la ley de apartamiento de las Cortes de Toledo, a recluirse en las aljamas en el plazo de dos años. Es entonces cuando el protagonista se siente apartado en un lugar en el que ha perdido sus privilegios.

"Yucé El Sefardí" surgió del "desconocimiento" generalizado sobre la cultura sefardí y la voluntad del autor de combatirlo, siguiendo los pasos de Miguel Delibes y, especialmente, del prestigioso escritor José Jiménez Lozano, que ha firmado el prólogo. "Quiero combatir los despropósitos que me he encontrado sobre lo sefardí. Uno de los más evidentes, el título de una exposición en Toledo la pasada primavera en la que se venía a equiparar la expulsión de los judíos con el Holocausto del siglo XX, utilizando el término "shoa", que significa "catástrofe", cuando los sefardíes empleaban el término "gallut", "tiempo de prueba"", explica el autor. A su juicio, los dos hechos históricos no tienen comparación. A los primeros "les dieron la oportunidad de convertirse", mientras que las comunidades del siglo XX fueron exterminadas por los nazis.

Yucé ve cómo la relación entre cristianos y judíos van cambiando. El joven estudia medicina y entra al servicio del rabino mayor de las aljamas de Castilla y León. El autor aprovecha el planteamiento para hablar de cómo funcionaban las aljamas, de los ritos y las costumbres de la España de finales del siglo XV. Entonces llega el decreto de expulsión de 1492 y se ve obligado a dejar atrás Castilla y todo lo que había ganado a base de esfuerzo, para poner rumbo al Norte de África. "Allí ocurre algo y decide volver... Y hasta ahí puedo contar", revela González Olmos, enigmático.

Durante el proceso de documentación, al autor le llamó la atención la singularidad de las costumbres judías. Como los "ritos femeninos de pureza", el periodo de menstruación en el que "las mujeres no podían sentarse en la cama con el marido", revela. O el concepto de caridad, que "los cristianos también desarrollaron pero en una dimensión más corta". Se trataba del "tzedacá", un precepto "esencial" en el judaísmo. "Solo por el hecho de ser judíos, las personas con necesidades tenían garantizado que nunca les faltase de comer", explica González Olmos. Las "hecdés" o "tierras comunales" servían "para costear escuelas", añade.

Enfrente, los judíos siempre tuvieron a los cristianos. Sobre la coexistencia de culturas, que ha originado ríos de tinta, Gregorio González opina que la "animadversión" estaba fundamentada "en un concepto religioso que a nosotros nos resulta muy complicado de entender en nuestro tiempo". Aún así, estaban condenados a entenderse. "Los oficios que desempeñaban los judíos eran muy valiosos para los cristianos, porque trabajar con las manos era un oficio vil. No solo eran prestamistas, también había zapateros, pastores o joyeros", precisa el autor.

A juicio de González Olmos de aquella cultura lejana -sostenida fuera de la península por los sefardíes a lo largo de siglos- "solo quedan manuscritos y piedras. ¿Qué ha podido sobrevivir de una época en que la prioridad era erradicar cualquier recuerdo judío?", se pregunta. Y por eso, novelas como "Yucé El Sefardí" reconstruyen aquella etapa apasionante, difícil. "Lo más importante de un libro no es la historia ni los personajes, sino el recuerdo que te queda cuando lo cierras", asegura.

Algunas de las páginas de la novela pisan el territorio zamorano, donde existió una importante comunidad hasta finales del siglo XIV. El trabajo tendrá pronto una segunda edición y también una segunda parte -quizá con el proyecto de completar una trilogía- que estará ambientada en Toledo. Su amigo, el arquitecto Paco Somoza, que ha confeccionado algunas ilustraciones para un futuro volumen, le reprocha: ¿Por qué no la ambientaste en Zamora? Ganas no le faltan al escritor, quien reconoce que "Zamora siempre tiene algo que te recuerda a los judíos". De momento la novela está disponible en las principales librerías de la ciudad y se vende a buen ritmo. El autor cuenta su proyecto en su propio blog (www.yuceelsefardi.com).

miércoles, 6 de enero de 2016

A copy of "A Methodology of Talmud" by R. Isaac Campanton gave to Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel

Kheifits family, of Jewish Sephardic origin, and who live in Jerusalem, gave a copy of "Darkhei ha-Talmud" (A Methodology of Talmud) by R. Isaac Campanton (1360-1463) to Yitzhak Yosef, Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel. The book, published several times since the 16th century, is the only one known so far written by Campanton, rabbi of Zamora, and Gaon of Castile and Leon, Spain.

During the meeting, Don Mikhail Kheitfits and his family, informed R. Yosef of the work that Centro Isaac Campanton does regarding the study and preservation of the Jewish legacy of city of Zamora. Both Kheitfits and R. Yosef conversed on the potential connection of their linage to this Spanish city through their last names, Reyna, and Obadiah, both last names are referred in historical documents related to the
Jewish community in Zamora before 1492.      

Pictures published with authorization of Don Mikhail Kheifits