Ruins of the Synagogue of El Transito (Sinagoga del Transito), a historic building in Toledo, Spain - by LouieLea, ShutterstockA Jewel in the Crown, a Spain Seminar

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Iberia served as the setting for one of the most remarkable chapters in Jewish history: that of Sefarad, embracing tragedy and great creative powers alike. The great poets, thinkers and statesmen of Sefarad help raise critical questions for us: When do Jews flourish? What ties do we have as a minority with the surrounding cultures? Join us for a deep exploration into major Judeo-Spanish communities including Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, Barcelona and more.

 

  • Day One: Monday

    WELCOME TO MADRID, KILOMETER ZERO

    • Arrive at Madrid International Airport.
    • Check into the hotel. (Official hotel check-in is from 3:00 p.m., if your room isn't ready upon arrival you can leave your luggage with the concierge.)
    • 2:00 p.m. Meet Haim, your Melton educator, and other group members in a designated room.
    • Why Spain? Orientation to the seminar with Haim, followed by a walking tour in central Madrid: Kilometer Zero (Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, and Plaza de España)
    • Opening dinner and meeting with a member of the Madrid Jewish community.
    • Return to the hotel.

    Overnight: Madrid


    Day Two: Tuesday

    SEGOVIA AND AVILA: UNIQUE AND YET SYMBOLIC COMMUNITIES

    • Breakfast at the hotel.
    • Depart for Segovia, a microcosm of the story of Jews in Iberia from Roman times until the Expulsion.
    • Visit Corpus Christi church and get a glimpse into the lives and dilemmas of Rab Avraham Seneor and Don Yitzhak Abravanel before the Expulsion.
    • See the Jewish cemetery on the slopes opposite Segovia.
    • Lunch on own, at leisure.
    • Visit Avila, center of mysticism for Spanish Christians as well as for Jewish Kabbala, for a glimpse into the world of Moshe de Leon and his circle.
    • Return to Madrid.
    • Free evening (Dinner on own).

    Overnight: Madrid


    Day Three: Wednesday

    TOLEDO, THE "JERUSALEM OF SEFARAD" – SYMBOL OF CONQUEST AND CULTURE

    • Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
    • Depart for Toledo, the center of which remains much as it was in the 16th century, and begin with a panoramic overview of the city.
    • Explore the city, including the San Roman museum, the Jewish Quarter, the Samuel Halevi Abulafia Synagogue (later a church known as Nuestra Señora del Tránisito), and the Santa Maria La Blanca Church (formerly the Grand Synagogue).
    • Lunch on own.
    • Depart for Córdoba, the capital of the Moorish Kingdom of al-Andalus.
    • Check into our hotel.
    • Dinner at Casa Mazal.

    Overnight: Cordoba


    Day Four: Thursday

    CORDOBA – “MY HEART IS IN THE EAST…” - AND WE ARE HERE

    • Breakfast at the hotel.
    • Early morning self-guided visit to Córdoba’s famous Cathedral-Mosque, La Mezquita, with its 1,000 colored columns.
    • Study session on site.
    • Visit the Jewish Quarter, including Plaza Tiberias and the Yehuda Halevi Square. Continue to the small Moorish-styled building known as the Maimonides Synagogue.
    • Visit Casa de Sefarad, dedicated to the history of the Sephardic Jews in Córdoba and Spain prior to the Inquisition and the expulsion of 1492. Meet with the people responsible for the creation of this private historical venture in the Jewish Quarter. Study session in the courtyard.
    • Boxed lunch from Casa Mazal.
    • Depart for Medina Azahara and explore the ruins of the vast, fortified Moorish medieval palace city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III, learning also about Hasdai ibn Shaprut. Study session on site.
    • Return to the hotel and remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
    • Dinner and evening free.

    Overnight: Cordoba


    Day Five: Friday

    SEVILLE- POINTS OF DEPARTURE – FOR JEWS AND OTHERS

    • Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
    • Depart for Seville, a city shaped by many cultural influences. Some traditions place Jews in Seville from its earliest days.
    • Visit Plaza de España, an impressive plaza built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
    • Tour the Alcazar, the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe and a superb example of mudéjar (The palace is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.)
    • Lunch on own.
    • Visit the Santa Cruz neighborhood, formerly Seville's Jewish Quarter, once known as La Juderia, with its winding alleyways and remnants of Jewish life found within the contemporary city.
    • Visit the Centro de Interpretacion, Juderia de Seville, a small private initiative created to preserve the memory and the heritage of the Sephardic people of Seville. Study about Hasdai Crescas and the great crisis caused by the pogrom of 1391, that broke out in Seville.
    • Visit the 12th century Great Cathedral, burial place of Christopher Columbus, and La Giralda, whose bell tower became the city's symbol.

    Check into the hotel.

    • Kabbalat Shabbat services together.
    • Shabbat dinner at a restaurant.

    Overnight: Seville


    Day Six: Shabbat

    SHABBAT IN SEVILLE | a day of rest

    • Breakfast at the hotel.
    • Free time to relax and explore Seville on own.
    • Late afternoon: study session, Havdallah and seuda shlishit.

    Overnight: Seville


    Day Seven: Sunday

    EXPLORING ANDALUSIA

    • Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
    • Depart Seville and drive to Lucena, a town that during the period of Muslim rule was known as “The Jewish city.” By the 12th century Lucena ("Eliossana") had become the cultural center of Andalusian Jewry.
    • Visit the Ancient Jewish quarter, the Jewish Cemetery, and the Church of San Mateo, on the site of what was once the ancient synagogue and subsequently a mosque.
    • Visit the Archaeological Museum of Lucena, which features the stories of some of the great rabbis of the Lucena Yeshiva, this "Pearl of Sefarad" in the 11th and 12th
    • Boxed lunch.
    • Depart for Granada, the last stronghold of the Moors before it fell to Isabella and Ferdinand in 1492.
    • Check into the hotel.
    • Optional: Attend a flamenco show to get a feeling for this typical Andalusian art form. (Cost not included.)
    • Evening free.

    Overnight: Granada


    Day Eight: Monday

    ‘GRANADA OF THE JEWS’ THROUGH 1492

    • Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
    • Tour of the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, truly magnificent World Heritage sites and the best known Islamic complex in Spain. Study session on Shmuel HaNagid and his poetry.
    • Free time to explore the Realejo, the former Jewish Quarter and the site of the original town bearing the name Garnata al-Yahud. (Lunch on your own, en route.)
    • Meet at the Palace of the Forgotten for our closing session.
    • Transfer to Granada airport for flight to Barcelona. Flight departure: 5:50 p.m.
    • 8:40 p.m. Arrive in Barcelona and check into the hotel.

    Overnight: Barcelona


    Day Nine: Tuesday

    BARCELONA, 2000 YEARS BACK... AND REVIVING, AFTER 500 YEARS…

    • Breakfast at the hotel.
    • Panoramic tour of the city, including Montjuic, site of the ancient Jewish cemetery of the city (hence its name, "Mountain of the Jews", and now a recognized heritage site. (Montjuic also is the location of the Olympic Ring, the main stadium of the 1992 Summer Olympics.)
    • Pass through Plaza España and Passeig Maritim with its Columbus monument, the world-famous Las Ramblas, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona’s main avenue and its Modernist houses designed by Antoni Gaudí, and complete the backdrop to our Jewish story at The City History Museum of Barcelona, covering the story of this astounding city from Roman times on.
    • Lunch on own at the Boqueria Market, and continue with:
    • A tour of the Call, the Jewish Quarter, and visit to the Medieval Synagogue.
    • We will then walk through the Gothic Quarter. According to archaeological evidence, there was a sizable Jewish community in Catalonia as early as the beginning of the Common Era. For centuries thereafter, the Jews of Barcelona managed their own local affairs and lived relatively well in their own Quarter.
    • Before our day is over, we will devote a session to Nachmanides, whose 1263 Barcelona Disputation with the Church is a fascinating – and well-documented - episode in the community's history, and to Rashba (Shlomo ben Adret), who led this community for the next fifty years, after his teacher left for the land of Israel.
    • Possible option to join the local Jewish community in celebrations of Israel’s Independence Day (if taking place).
    • Dinner on your own or together and evening at leisure.

    Overnight: Barcelona


    Day Ten: Wednesday

    JEWISH LIFE, AGAINST ALL ODDS, IN GIRONA & BESALU

    • Breakfast at the hotel.
    • Depart the hotel for Girona, one of the most important Jewish historical sites in Spain.
    • Tour medieval Girona which was famous for its Kabbalists. It was also the home of the great sage Nachmanides, about whom we learned yesterday. Visit the Jewish Quarter, which dates back to the 12th century, and its small museum.
    • Lunch on own.
    • Stop at Besalu, a picturesque medieval town that features one of the best preserved Mikvaot (ritual baths) in all of Europe.
    • Return to Barcelona.
    • Free evening.

    Overnight: Barcelona


    Day Eleven: Thursday

    SEFARAD, THEN AND NOW: FINAL THOUGHTS & FEELINGS

    • Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
    • Morning touring Barcelona including a visit to Gaudi’s unfinished Church of the Sagrada Familia, monument to the human spirit.
    • Closing study session in Parc Guell
    • Farewell lunch
    • Transfer on own to Barcelona International Airport according to flight schedules.
  • For more information, please contact us.