The “Sephardic Jerusalem” is known around the world for the beauty of its synagogues and its Jewish quarter. The memory of the community has remained vivid in Toledo; historians have from the thirteenth and fourteenth century onward been able to supply fairly precise information about the location and history of the city’s Jewish community. Toledo is a city of great historical and artistic importance and is listed here as a World Heritage Site.
At the time of its greatest splendor, just before 1391, Toledo had ten synagogues and five to seven yeshivot. In 1492 there were five grand synagogues, two of which survive: the Tránsito, now the Sephardic Museum, and Santa María la Blanca.
The quarter can be reached through a gate. One of the many entrances is the gate Puerta de Assulca, which has in its vicinity in flea market where oil, butter, chickpeas, lentils and everything necessary for daily life are sold.
Then it enters the streets, adarves (dead-end streets) and squares of the quarter. The main street is called Calle del Mármol and connects the Jewish quarter with the rest of the city.
There is a market, places to pray, public baths, bread ovens, palaces and a wall. Near the Tagus river is the neighborhood Barrio del Degolladero, so named because here was the designated place for the ritual slaughter (shechitah) of beef-cattle.
In the neighborhood Barrio de Hamazelt the richest Jewish families lived and in the street known today as San Juan de Dios, lived the best known Jew of Toledo: Samuel ha-Levi. He was the treasurer of the king Peter of Castile and ordered the building of a big synagogue, that later was known as the "Synagogue of el Tránsito". And as in all the Jewish houses, features a mezuzah containing passages from Deuteronomy affixed to its door-post.
Two Jewish places of worship are preserved today (both as museums), Santa María la Blanca (formerly the Synagogue of Ibn Shushan) and El Tránsito. In a bygone age, every Friday before sunset, a rabbi sounded the shofar (a goat's horn) three times announcing the arrival of the Sabbath.
The county town of Besalú constitutes a unique Jewish heritage site in Catalonia, with a 12th century mikveh (Jewish bath) and the remains of a 13th century synagogue. In 1966 Besalú was declared a national historic-artistic site. Since then, many finds have been made and much work has been done towards recovering this heritage. With its twisting mediaeval streets adapted to the city's orography, arches, steps, stone houses, the superb Romanesque bridge leading to the town center over the waters of the Fluvià Besalú still retains the charm of mediaeval times.
The presence of Jews in Besalú is attested in a document from 1229 in which Jaume I the Conqueror gave them the roles of moneylenders. In 1342 the Jewish community, connected to the one in Barcelona, and became independent. In those days it they 200, a quarter of the total population in the town, and lived side by side with the Christian population.
The old Jewish quarter of Barcelona, located in the city’s Gothic quarter. Although few vestiges remain, in the Centre d'Interpretació del Call visitors can get a good idea of what life was like for the Jewish community of Barcelona during the Middle Ages.
The Call or Jewish Quarter forms part of what is now the Gothic Quarter. It was one of the city’s centres of culture in the Middle Ages and home to two synagogues. One of them, the Sinagoga Major, is one of Europe’s oldest, as it is believed to date back to the 6th century.
The Jewish Quarter was home to schools, baths and hospitals, but now only a few houses are left standing. It was surrounded by two city walls on the limits of the old Roman settlement. The Jews, however, did not close themselves off from the rest of city as they had houses and workshops outside of these city walls. In the early 13th century the population had grown so much that the Call Menor, the smaller Jewish quarter, was created. Now practically nothing remains of it.
The Call Major, the larger Jewish quarter, is home to the Sinagoga Major or Shlomo ben Aderet Synagogue, as it is also known, after the man who was the 13th-century leader of Catalan Judaism, the Rabbi of Barcelona and a banker to kings like James I (the Conqueror). It was the centre of Jewish life in the city until the start of the attacks on the community, the most serious of which, in 1391, ended with the death of 300 Jews. In the following years Jewish cemeteries and synagogues were destroyed and Jews were forced to convert to Christianity. Due to the expulsion decreed by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, the quarter fell into decline and its buildings were converted. The Sinagoga Major became a dye works and the Sinagoga Menor was transformed into a Trinitarian convent, of which today only the parish church on Carrer de Ferran dedicated to Saint James remains.
Located within the Força Vella, the mighty Roman fortress built in the 1st century BC, Girona‘s Jewish Quarter, also known as El Call, is one of the Spanish city’s most iconic areas. A maze of narrow cobbled streets, stairs, patios and archways, it’s one of the best preserved Jewish quarters in the world.
The old Jewish quarter which is part of the old town. It was inhabited by the Jewish community of the city of Girona from the 12th to the 15th century. In one of the synagogues it is possible to visit a museum dedicated to the history of the Jewish people.
The Jewish quarter, known as “El Call”, is one of the most interesting, emblematic areas in the city of Girona, both in terms of architecture and history. It is part of the old town next to the banks of the Onyar river. It dates back to the 12th century and is one of the most well-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe. It was inhabited by the city’s Jewish community until 1492, the year in which the Jews were expelled from the country.
It is made up of a labyrinth of narrow streets, robust houses, staircases, arches and patios. One of the main buildings is the Centre Bonastruc ça Porta, which is located in what was the last synagogue in the city and is now home to the Museu d'Història dels Jueus i l'Institut d'Estudis Nahmànides (Jewish History Museum and Institute of Nahmanides Studies).
Two other must-visit streets are Carrer de Sant Llorenç and Carrer Manuel Cundaro, which both epitomise the Jewish Quarter with their narrow walls, steep stone steps and big stone windows.
Just to the south-east of the old town, shrouded by the outer city walls, lies one of the city’s most delightful and least known areas: the old Jewish Quarter. This quaint nook of the city is full of narrow streets that open out onto beautiful whitewashed squares with pretty gardens, palatial and humble homes alike. In its time, the Jewish Quarter of Cáceres was one of the jewels of Sepharad.
The neighborhood adapts to the unevenness of the terrain, so there are steep slopes concealed by parapets that give it the popular name of Barrio de la Quebrada, or the “fractured neighborhood,” with the hermitage of San Antonio standing out, located on the site of the old synagogue.
The old Jewish Quarter of Cáceres stands out from the rest of the city because of the sheer beauty of its streets and houses. The small gardens and the olive grove, perhaps the most visited part of the Jewish Quarter, bring color to the houses and a sense of peace for the visitor at any time of day.
Today, the local residents of Cáceres preserve the memory of this once thriving community in their efforts to take care of the old Jewish neighborhood. Thanks to their efforts, it is the perfect place to take a stroll and lose yourself in the heart of the city.
This memorial plaque honoring Emma Lazarus, American Jewish poetess, is located in The Battery's famous monument walk in Manhattan. The plaque itself is made from Israeli limestone and bronze gifted from the State of Israel to the Sisterhood of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogues.
Born on July 22, 1849 in New York City to a wealthy sugar refining family of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish descent whose roots extended to the very early days of New York City as a British colonial city, Emma Lazarus was the poet who wrote "The New Colossus" Aside from writing, Lazarus was also involved in charitable work for refugees. At Ward's Island, she worked as an aide for Jewish immigrants who had been detained by Castle Garden immigration officials. She was deeply moved by the plight of the Russian Jews she met there and these experiences influenced her writing.
In 1883, William Maxwell Evarts and author Constance Cary Harrison asked Lazarus to compose a sonnet for the "Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty". In turn, Lazarus, inspired by her own Sephardic Jewish heritage, her experiences working with refugees on Ward's Island, and the plight of the immigrant, wrote "The New Colossus" on November 2, 1883. After the auction, the sonnet appeared in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World as well as The New York Times. She died in New York City on November 19, 1887, most likely from Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Lazarus' famous sonnet depicts the Statue as the "Mother of Exiles:" a symbol of immigration and opportunity - symbols associated with the Statue of Liberty today. After its initial popularity however, the sonnet slowly faded from public memory. It was not until 1901, 17 years after Lazarus's death, that Georgina Schuyler, a friend of hers, found a book containing the sonnet in a bookshop and organized a civic effort to resurrect the lost work. Her efforts paid off and in 1903, words from the sonnet were inscribed on a plaque and placed on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
The Brown Building, formerly known as the Asch Building, was the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911. One hundred and forty-six Jewish and Italian immigrant workers died in the blaze. It was the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City history. In its aftermath, outraged advocates demanded stronger workplace safety protections and better working conditions for those who toiled in the city’s sweatshops.
The Brown Building occupies 23-29 Washington Place in Greenwich Village New York City. It was completed in 1901 and is an example of the neo-Renaissance architectural style. It features a stone base and brick upper walls with terra-cotta trim. Five limestone pilasters decorate the front façade and are topped with terra-cotta capitals. Originally the building housed retail shops on the ground level and factory space on levels 2-10. After the 1911 fire, the building was refurbished and sold to Frederick Brown, who rented it to nearby New York University. In 1929 Brown donated it to NYU and it was renamed in his honor.
The Brown Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark on July 17, 1991. On March 25, 2003, it was named a New York City Landmark. As of 2020, it hosts classrooms and science labs. Memorial plaques commemorate the victims. Each March on the fire’s anniversary, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition organizes a memorial gathering. As of 2020, the Coalition is in the process of developing a permanent memorial to the fire’s victims.
The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy is passionate about sharing and celebrating the Jewish heritage of the Lower East Side. The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to the historic preservation of the Lower East Side’s sacred sites. Their mission is accomplished through quality touring programs, both private, public, and educational, which showcase the Lower East Side's landmarks, history and people. A portion of the proceeds of each tour is returned to the sacred sites visited on that tour, contributing to their restoration and conservation. The Conservancy takes great pride in being a full service organization. What that means for their visitors is that they take the time to customize your tour and make your experience as enjoyable and memorable as possible. On your request, they will recommend restaurants, hotel accommodations, shopping venues, and transportation routes.
From its inception in 1998, the Conservancy has worked collaboratively with a broad spectrum of the Lower East Side’s cultural, social, historic, religious, architectural, programmatic, and business resources. The Conservancy’s local partners include the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, The Educational Alliance, Henry Street Settlement, The Museum at Eldridge Street, the Angel Orensanz Cultural Foundation and Center for the Arts, 6th Street Community Center, and virtually all of the historic synagogues on the Lower East Side from East 14th Street. These collaborations have provided value-added for our visitors and partners.
In addition to the Lower East Side, the LESJC provides tours of other New York neighborhoods of Jewish importance, such as Jewish Harlem, the Upper West side, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Shearith Israel was the only Jewish congregation in New York City from 1654 until 1825. During this entire span of history, all of the Jews of New York belonged to the congregation. Shearith Israel was founded by 23 Jews, mostly of Spanish and Portuguese origin. The earliest Jewish cemetery in the U.S. was recorded in 1656 in New Amsterdam where authorities granted the Shearith Israel Congregation “a little hook of land situated outside of this city for a burial place.” Its exact location is now unknown. The Congregation’s “second” cemetery, which is today known as the FIRST cemetery because it is the oldest surviving one, was purchased in 1683.
Today, this cemetery is a mere fragment of its original extent. Only about a hundred headstones and above ground tombs can still be seen in what remains of the old burial ground, which rises slightly above street level. It is the only remaining 17th century structure in Manhattan.
The second cemetery - now known as "New Bowery Cemetery". Burials began here in 1805, in what was a much larger, square plot extending into what is now the street. The Commissioners' Plan had established the city's grid in 1811, but not until 1830 was West 11th Street cut through, at that time reducing the cemetery to its present tiny triangle. The disturbed plots were moved further uptown to the Third Cemetery on West 21st Street. In 1852 city law forbade burial within Manhattan, and subsequent interments have been made in Queens.
The third cemetery is between loft buildings and across the street from the School Of Visual Arts on West 21st St just off 6th Avenue is the Third Cemetery. This cemetery was adjacent to the congregation's synagogue on 19th Street--built in 1860 and now long gone.
For those of you located in Israel August is the month of the festival. There are several large events being held around the country dedicated to Israeli and international Jewish culture including music, beer, films, art, and more. If you are looking for an Israeli summer of fun and variety look no further than World Jewish Travel’s guide below, personally curated by a Jerusalem local.
The good times start in Tel Aviv at the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival. This festival has been taking place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art since 1999 and features a 5-day long musical program of classical, jazz, and ethnic music from around the world. This year, the event will take place from August 3rd to August 7th so you have plenty of time to fit it into your plan while exploring the rest of the city.
[caption id="attachment_27638" align="alignnone" width="640"] Let There Be Laughter exhibition at the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv[/caption]
While Tel Aviv is known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant culture, the city has some of the most highly-reviewed museums in the country with temporary exhibitions that you don’t want to miss. The newly renovated Museum of the Jewish People has a new exhibit, Let There Be Laughter, looking at the origins of Jewish humor and the major contributions of Jewish comedians to the history of comedy around the world. The Eretz Israel Museum is another highly rated museum with several exhibitions of local nature, glass artifacts, and pottery-making. If you find yourself needing a break from the August heat, these museums are definitely worth a visit.
[caption id="attachment_27639" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Hutzot Fair in the Old City of Jerusalem - Credit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/hutzot-hayotzer-intl-arts-and-crafts-fair/[/caption]
From Tel Aviv, head over to the Holy City of Jerusalem just in time for Shabbat. You’ll want to make sure to stop at the famous Machane Yehuda market to see the pre-Shabbat hustle and bustle, and taste the fresh halva, nuts and tahini from the local shops. There are also several restaurants located in or nearby the market where you can grab a bite to eat. Once Shabbat has started and the sun has gone down, take a walk to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and Kotel; you’ll find a very peaceful atmosphere that you don’t usually get with all of the tourists who visit during the week. Don’t forget that public transportation doesn’t run on Shabbat, so you may want to find a hotel near the old city.
After a relaxing weekend, you will be ready for the annual international arts and crafts festival, known locally as the Hutzot Hayotzer Fair. The festivities begin on August 9th in one of Jerusalem’s most iconic locations, the Sultan’s Pool, an ancient water basin located in the valley of Hinnom on the west side of Mount Zion. Wrapped in the pines of Jerusalem underneath a sky of stars, visitors can peruse an eclectic variety of handmade goods and art from hammocks to paintings. This is also a spot to catch some of the hottest rock and pop stars in the Israeli music industry. You can also catch dance performances and scheduled workshops.
[caption id="attachment_27640" align="alignnone" width="600"] Band playing at the annual Safed Klezmier Festival - Credit: https://www.secrettelaviv.com/tickets/safed-klezmer-festival-2016[/caption]
From the Jerusalem Central Bus Station you can hop on a bus to the mystical birthplace of Kabbalah, Safed, where the 34th annual Safed Klezmer Festival invites patrons to experience three nights of Klezmer performances starting on August 17th featuring dozens of Israeli and international bands. During the festival, performances are held throughout the alleyways and roads of the Jewish Quarter and Artist’s Quarter beginning at 9:00 and going until midnight. During the day we recommend attending the festival's numerous workshops and activities that include glass blowing, ceramics, tours of the city, or visit the artisans selling their art in the crisp summer air. If you need a bite to eat during the festival, be sure to check out our recommended restaurants, and make sure you visit Safed’s other must-see sites.
[caption id="attachment_27641" align="alignnone" width="770"] Jerusalem International Film Festival - Credit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/international-film-festival/[/caption]
After you’ve had your fill of Klezmer and Kabbalah, make your way back to the Holy City just in time for the 38th Jerusalem Film Festival on August 24th. This festival screens a number of Israeli cinematic masterpieces as well as films by internationally acclaimed directors and actors with past contributors including Wong Kar Wai, Tsai Ming-Liang, John Sayles, Jim Jarmusch, Stephen Frears, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jane Fonda, and Robert Dinero; the star-studded list is endless. The opening event will also be held in the Sultan’s Pool with the remaining screenings to take place around the city in the presence of 5000 viewers with 200 films from 50 different countries.
[caption id="attachment_27642" align="alignnone" width="640"] The Old City of Jerusalem[/caption]
In case you missed taking a guided tour of Jerusalem or visiting one of the city’s many unique museums, archeological sites, historic cemeteries, and synagogues, now that it’s not Shabbat you will have the opportunity to do that. You will find that you could spend weeks in Jerusalem alone so you may have to save some of the sites for your next trip to Israel.
There is no better way to end your summer than with a trip around Israel exploring some of the country's top cultural events and sites. Whether you’re a local or thinking of making Israel your post-pandemic vacation destination, don’t hesitate to attend any one of these festivals to experience Israeli culture, creativity, and love of life.
The Jakab and Komor Square Synagogue in Subotica is a Hungarian Art Nouveau synagogue in Subotica, Serbia. It is the second largest synagogue in Europe. It was built in 1901-1902 during the administration of the Kingdom of Hungary (part of Austria-Hungary), according to the plans of Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab replacing a smaller and less elaborate synagogue. It is one of the finest surviving pieces of religious architecture in the art nouveau style. It served the local Neolog community.
In 1974 the synagogue was designated a Monument of Culture; in 1990 it was designated a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia.
The synagogue has long been plagued by conservation issues, though a decade-long partnership between the government and World Monuments Fund that ended in 2010 rendered the building watertight after years of water infiltration. Work on the restoration of the facades is the next phase of work on the synagogue.
The synagogue of Subotica is the only surviving Hungarian art nouveau Jewish place of worship in the world. Erected by a prosperous Jewish community of some 3000 souls between 1901 and 1903, it highlights the double, Hungarian-Jewish identity of its builders, who lived in a multi-ethnic, but predominantly Catholic city, which was the third largest of the Hungarian Kingdom and the tenth largest of the Habsburg Empire.
The community hired a not-yet established tandem of Hungarian art nouveau architects from Budapest, Dezső Jakab and Marcell Komor, who would later make a great imprint on the architecture of Subotica and Palić, the resort town near the city. The architects were ardent followers of Ödön Lechner, the father of Hungarian art nouveau style architecture, and later partisans of this movement, which unified Hungarian folklore elements with some Jewish structural principles and sometimes even Jewish motifs.
Besides lending the synagogue a distinct double identity in architectural terms, Jakab and Komor created a new space-conception of synagogue architecture in Hungary and deployed modern steel structure as well as an advanced technique of vaulting. Unlike period synagogues in Hungary that featured a predominantly basilica-like arrangement with a nave and two aisles, with or without a dome, this synagogue achieves a unified, tent-like central space under the sun, painted in gold on the apex of the dome. The women’s gallery and the dome are supported by four pairs of steel pillars covered with gypsum with a palm leaf relief. The large dome is a self-supporting, 3-5 centimeters thin shell-structure, formed in the spirit of Hungarian folklore. While many other synagogues have utilized light structures, they usually mimicked traditional arches and vaults. The novelty of this synagogue is the sincere display of modern structure and modernity in general, of which Jews have been important advocates and generators.
The synagogue was fully renovated in multi-million renovation project financed mainly by Hungarian and Serbian government and opened in march 2018.
Along with the opening of Art Gallery boutique, Hajinsky’s house obtained a new life; Belonging to the history of national culture, the works of Azerbaijani fine art classics, exhibited in our hotel, also received a new life through improvisations of young contemporary local and foreign artists, who interpreted the subject of classical works of past in modern art pieces.
Famous artist Romero Britto created several exclusive artworks for the Hotel. Another popular master, sculptor Julian Voss-Andreae constructed unique Spannungsfeld Female Figure. Other than that, the Hotel owns an Invisible restaurant with a possibility to dine and Sattart Café with indescribable beauty of the paints of a famous Azerbaijan artist Sattar Bahlulzade that will immerse you into the world of art.
Perfectly located in historical part of the town, the hotel is 1 block away from Maiden Tower with Fountain Square and is in front of the Seaside Boulevard. What is more, it shares the same block with Dior, Tom Ford, Zilli, Bvlgari, Tiffany and other high-end stores.
The Renaissance Palace Baku has 60 luxury rooms and suites, all decorated with a European theme. Each room comes with an air conditioning unit, high-speed Internet access, cable TV, a safe and a minibar.
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