Home of the Hidden Community
Mallorca, the Sephardic island, was for hundreds of years home to a sizable Jewish population that can be traced back to the 5th century. It was an important center for cartography where Jews played a pivotal role. The famed map-maker Jafuda Cresques, who, according to tradition, drew the maps used by Christopher Columbus, was recently honored with a statue in the Jewish quarter of Palma.
Repression during the 14th and 15th centuries led to forced conversions. These Crypto-Jews, publicly professing Catholicism while privately adhering to Judaism, remained for a long time true to their original faith. Private homes secretly adapted rooms to be used as makeshift synagogues. Called Xuetas by the Catholic locals, they lived for centuries in their own quarter where signs of this secret community are still found today.
Times have changed and after many centuries some descendants of Jewish families have begun again to consider and embrace their heritage. One of these, Rabbi Nissan Ben-Avraham, born in Mallorca in 1957, was years after his reconversion ordained as an orthodox rabbi in Israel in 1991.
Our tour starts in the oldest Jewish quarter dating back to the Muslim era of Mallorca, the Call Menor, and continues through the narrow, twisting streets to the medieval Jewish quarter. The Call Major is home to remnants of synagogues, with Jewish life attested to by street names such as Calle Argentera, where the goldsmiths worked. You can also visit the park where the old Jewish cemetery used to be found, and walk the streets where the descendants of Mallorcan Jewry live to this very day. In the Museum of Mallorca, one can see two gravestones, the “ploms Jueus” which are considered to be the second oldest remains of the Jewish community in all of Spain. Today’s Jewish community was re-established in 1971. Let us make your stay in Palma a unique experience. Come taste the flavor of the famous crespells, a Mallorcan Jewish pastry, and encounter dimensions of Mallorcan life you never before considered!
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