The Spanish town of Ribadavia is preparing to hold its first Passover Seder since 1492. The event has been organized by the municipality’s tourism department in partnership with the Center for Medieval Studies, an organization that researches the history of Iberian Jews prior to their expulsion during the Spanish Inquisition that began in 1492.
The project is aimed at increasing tourism to Ribadavia and “breathing new life into its old Jewish quarter.” These days, only two Jewish families live in the town.
I’ve visited the Jewish quarter of several Spanish cities and towns. I always get the same impression — that Spain’s expulsion of Jews left a huge hole in the country. Has the hole ever been completely filled?
Whether this sentiment reflects mere chauvanism on my part is a question I’ll leave to scholars like those at the aforementioned Center for Medieval Studies. Either way, I’m happy that Ribadavia is bringing to life the ditty/parody my mother used to sing around this time of year:
In a little Spanish town, t’was on a night like this;
All the Jews were eating Matzohs and gefilte fish.
Sadly, though, gefilte fish may not be on the menu, as this undoubtedly will be a Sephardic Seder.
JOHN adds: Ribadavia may not have many Jews anymore, but it has a stunningly beautiful Jewish Quarter: