This is were my ancestors came from and were tortured killed by the Inquisitors in Spain

Spain’s Jewish ‘ghost towns’ seek a boost from living Jews

Historically Jewish towns in Spain look to Jewish tourism to revitalize their economies. But support for BDS may hamper those efforts.


 Old synagogue in the Spanish town of Ribadavia

Old synagogue in the Spanish town of Ribadavia

Cnaan Liphshiz

RIBADAVIA, Spain JTA – Overlooking the confluence of two rivers near the Spanish-Portuguese border, this small and picturesque town has more Jewish institutions than some European capitals.

In the historic Jewish quarter of Ribadavia, the sounds of nearby waterfalls echo among cobblestone streets featuring attractions that are found nowhere else in the northern region of Galicia, including a Jewish museum, a medieval synagogue, a kosher wine shop and even two Jewish bakeries.

Despite the municipality’s significant investment in its Jewish heritage sites, however, this scenic town is missing one crucial element that could make the effort financially viable: Jews, and Jewish tourists especially.

Located 43 miles from an international airport, Ribadavia, whose once-significant Jewish population disappeared centuries ago, is pulling in only about 20,000 tourists a year, most of them Spanish non-Jews. Even on sunny weekends its streets are often empty and its inexpensive street markets see few foreigners.

Part of Spain’s struggling Red de Juderias, a network of some 20 cities with Jewish quarters or major heritage sites, Ribadavia typifies both the potential for opening such culturally rich locales to wider audiences and the challenges that have obstructed plans to do so since the Red’s creation two decades ago.

A case in point is the synagogue, which was built in the 16th century by Jews who continued to practice their faith secretly after being converted to Christianity under duress during the Spanish Inquisition. Hidden inside the stone frame of the building’s only eastward-facing window is a cylindrical compartment where worshippers used to conceal their Torah scroll.

“This is a piece of their history, but it is also a piece of mine,” said Camilo Rodríguez Alonso, a non-Jewish lawyer, intellectual and Spanish aristocrat who bought the building to preserve it in 1982, some 15 years before the creation of the Red de Juderias.

The 80-year-old nobleman says he feared the building would be damaged in the real-estate free-for-all that followed the fall of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in 1975.

“Everything here is historically priceless,” he said of his office, which has massive wooden floors so ancient that lower stories are visible from above through fine cracks along the grain.

Alonso, a jovial father of three who following his recent divorce moved into a bachelor pad with friends near Ribadavia, renovated the building while preserving it. He even had welders add handcrafted Stars of David decorations to the perimeter fence “so that this synagogue, which always operated in secret, would be secret no more,” he told JTA during a recent interview.

Alonso’s deep emotional attachment to Jewish heritage is shared by many Spaniards who even today are pained by the post-Inquisition destruction of one of the world’s most illustrious Jewish communities. Towns like Ribadavia, which once was one-third Jewish, were gradually rendered Jew-free amid persecution that drove away or wiped out Spain’s population of Sephardi Jewry, whose name means simply “Spanish” in Hebrew.

While Alonso is eager to share his love for the building and accommodates special requests to view it, under his ownership the average visitor to Ribadavia has been largely unable to see the synagogue, which is by far the most remarkable Jewish heritage site in the town.

“In my advanced age, it’s difficult to come here and show it,” said Alonso, whose bad hip prevents him from climbing up to the floor housing the ark.

Despite his passion, Alonso’s failure to leverage the synagogue he owns into a tourist asset is typical of efforts to further develop Spain’s Jewish heritage sites, according to Marta Puig Quixal, the newly appointed director of the Red de Juderias.

An intermunicipal organization, the Red, or network, has an annual budget of approximately $500,000. That needs to cover work in 20 cities in a country with a cash-strapped economy that is only now emerging from an eight-year recession with an unemployment rate of 21 percent.

“Each mayor is vying for a slice of the pie,” Quixal said, “but if we divide the money we’ll end up with sums too small to have any impact.”

Budgetary disagreements complicate efforts to buy out private owners like Alonso and develop their heritage, said Quixal, who assumed the directorship of the network earlier this year “in order to try and change the current situation,” as she defined it.

Private investors have largely stayed away from bankrolling Jewish heritage projects in Spain, partly because of the financial crisis and also no one seems to have statistical data on the economic potential of such sites.

“The truth is we don’t have the statistics, we have no reliable market research to offer private investors,” said Quixal, who added that obtaining such data is a high priority for her.

Some 350,000 Jewish tourists from Israel alone visit Spain annually, though most are believed to stay in Barcelona and other large cities. Many Israelis in Madrid visit a former synagogue in Toledo that is among Spain’s most popular museums, with some 300,000 visitors annually, half of them locals.

More anecdotal data can be found even in Ribadavia at the town’s first Jewish bakery, Tafona da Herminia, which 77-year-old Herminia Rodriguez opened 25 years ago. A non-Jew, Rodriguez began baking Jewish pastries 25 years ago as per a special request by Spain’s Center for Medieval Studies. Her riverside bakery has been featured by national publications such as El Pais and even got a mention in The New York Times.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t get customers here, and not a week goes by without me getting some sort of Jewish recipe in the mail,” she said proudly in her dark bakery, where a menorah and an icon of the Virgin Mary share a single shelf. (“They’re together so they’re not jealous,” Rodriguez said, adding, “They’re neighbors after all.”)

Rodriguez has gained fame for making breads and cookies in the shape of a Star of David. Shoppers can choose traditional Sephardic pastries like date-filled maamuls and mostachodus – a clove and walnut crumble — as well as Ashkenazi cookies like kichelach and kupferlins, all baked in her stone oven.

“People want to connect to Jewish heritage, and food is the most immediate way,” she said in explaining her unlikely success.

In Hervas, a town located 230 miles southeast of Ribadavia, Israel-born Abigail Cohen is seeing a similar boom with Candela, the Jewish bakery that she opened four years ago.

“The pastries are selling well because they are Jewish; it’s clear to see that this is the reason for this success,” she said, adding that only 20-30 Jewish tourists pass by her shop annually.

Awareness of the Jewish heritage of Spain and Portugal is doing more than help sell cookies.

Last year, both countries implemented unprecedented legislation offering citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews in what some observers claimed was a bid to attract wealthy investors. Both governments said, however, that the law was the result of regret and guilt over the Inquisition. Some 5,000 Sephardim have already naturalized.

But disagreements over budget and politics continue to hold back the development of the sites connected to Sephardic Jewry, according to Quixal. Earlier this year, four cities from Catalonia, a region where separatist sentiment and politics are strong, broke from the network in a move that has affected its work adversely, she said.

And in a country that holds the European record for municipalities supporting the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement against Israel, some mayors are reluctant to work with Israeli businesses and tour operators because they find doing so “too politicized,” Quixal said.

“This is something that will have to change if we are to move forward from where the Red de Juderias is right now,” she said. “You can’t get Jewish tourists without working with the Jewish state. I mean, we can’t advertise Jewish quarters that don’t want any Jews.”


His leadership and television interviews have gone trough out the world, Luden Centeno Perez of Spanish Converso Marano Jewish background who's ancestors came from Spain during the Inquisition .Uriel speaks on terror related issues concerning Israel resides permanently in Jerusalem. His analysis of Middle Eastern events as they relate to Israel is regularly broadcast through internet radio and television through out the world. Luden has given close to 500 television interviews in Israel Jerusalem and broadcasts live from Jerusalem Israel on the radio.And once a month speaks to 147 nations via the USA radio. On his last 8 radio programs he has had over 500,00 listeners listening live from Jerusalem On one of our last video we had over 40,000 who watched live our video from Jerusalem. Our main goal is totell the world that Israel has the right to defend herself from any form of agression and terrorism that comes out of Ramallah and the occupied territories that belong to Israel. Israel faces many difficult challenges and dangers in the days and weeks and months to come mark my words see Psalms 83' . There is an unprecedented propaganda campaign initiated by the Arab League and many others to demonize, discredit and delegitimize the Jewish people and their state, within their own land! The efforts of the Arab League were recently seen in the UN Resolution 2334 text as follows, adopted by the UN Security Council at its 7853rd meeting, on 23 December 2016. Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008), guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice, condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions. In order to achieve their goals, the Arabs and many other countries have for more than 30 years resorted to a deliberate misinformation campaign. This propaganda campaign by the Arab League and many other nations – both in their own countries and for the last four decades exported to Europe and North America has caused Israel what would seem irreparable damage and indeed, it was the main culprit in the reawakening of dormant European anti-Semitism. Israel continues to suffer many attacks from terrorists within and should give in to any presure imposed by the USA, the EU. the Quartet, nor the UN. The former Obama administration and others have been working behind the scenes to get many UN Resolution passed against Israel as we see here on Un resolution 2334 to pass. even while allowing Iran to continue to develop their nuclear facilities by using John Kerry and others to fulfill their hidden agenda. On December 23rd 2016 the US abstained from exercising its veto to UN resolution 2334 which allowed it to pass. Then John Kerry immediately blasted Israel over the presence of Israeli settlements within Israel's own land. The Obama Administration's hidden agenda came to light. The former Obama administration was trying to force Israel to give up more land for false peace as we have seen in the past. Judea and Samaria and possibly the Jordan Valley were on the negotiating table. For perspective, if the so-called fake Palestinians obtained Judea and Samaria and possibly the Jordan Valley, Givat HaRoe’eh in the Samaria community of Eli, Ramat Gilad and Giv’at Assaf (also in Samaria), and Mitzpeh Lachish, near Nehogot outside Hebron. they could easily rain down rockets towards any city within Israel, leaving without defensible borders. We say NO to land for false peace as we have seen in Gush Katiff offered in the past. US President Barrack Hussein Obama had a hidden agenda against Israel and many other nations Israel will face many difficult days and months ahead (see Tehillim / Psalms 83) As we have seen what happened with Gush Katif where over 18,000 rockets have been fired towards Israel.Many Jews were forced out of their own Jewish land due to US pressure, now Bet El Almuna and Migron and Judea and Samaria face the same threat. More than 24,000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since Israel uprootedmore than 10,000 Jewish families. Over 24.000 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards the southern Israeli city of Sderot Ashkelon Tel Aviv by Islamist extremist whose end-game is the total destruction of my people Israel. Hamas terrorists are supported by Iran and now Hamas has joined hands with Fatah. The Iranian Lebanese proxy Hezbollah who also operate in Syria are committed to the total destruction of Israel. Now Al Qaeda and ISIS who are operating in Syria Egypt and the Sinai Desert will do anything in their power to destroy my people Israel and all Jews. Judea and Samaria (the heartland of Israel also known as the West Bank) face many challenges in the days to come as Abu Mazen will try to pressure the entire world and former US President Barrack Hussein Obama the EU and the Quartet into giving more land for false peace. We saw what happened after the Oslo Accords were signed, dramatically increasing Islamic terror against Israel. Abu Mazen the Palestinian Authority leader approached the United Nations in November 2012 and petitioned to be declared as a recognized nation within Israel's known borders. The time has come to tell the entire world the real truth about the enemies of Israel. We speak on the Quran using a Power Point video presentation. We have been aired on CNN, German TV, Finland TV, CCTV, China Al Jazera, Al Arabiya Turk TV and many radio stations on the current issues of Israel. Luden Centeno has a heart for his people Israel and will continue to inform the entire world the real truth as many News Media outlets throughout the world hold anti-Semitic views and won’t tell you the real truth. Centeno, a former police officer who studied Political Science at Temple University USA was born in the USA and currently lives in Jerusalem Israel, knowing karate and boxing having played semi-pro baseball. He has two children, a girl and a son, both born in Jerusalem. Centeno discovered in 2004 that there were possible Converso Marrano Jews from Spain whose ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism during the time of the Inquisition in 1492. The family names Centeno and Perez are registered in El Libro Verde De Aragon in Spain. The Roman Catholic Inquisitors maintained all the names of all Jewish families who were forced to convert to Catholicism during that horrible time period in Spain. Since 2004 Centeno has been flying intercontinentally to the USA speaking to the nations on the current issues of the the state of Israel (see Psalms 83′ as the nations gather against Israel.) He has spoken on Al Arabiya TV Al Jazeera, Dubai TV, Holland TV, German TV Finland TV and also on American Family Radio which links up with 700 radio stations. His goal is to educate the entire world that Israel has the right to self-determination and the right to defend itself from terrorism. The Moslem Arabs in that area started calling themselves “Palestinians” merely only 40 years ago. “Palestinian” refers to people who live in Palestine: Arabs (“Arabic speaking peoples”), Bedouins, Druze, Christians, and Jews lived in then the British Mandate of Palestine. No people or nation called Palestine ever ruled as a sovereign national entity on this land. There is no Palestinian language or culture in past history. Palestine, as a country does not presently exist. No Arab nation has their historical roots on the land and no one had laid claim to this territory other than the Jews. The Jewish rule of this land extended over a period of over 2000 years. Israel became a nation in the land in 1312 BC. God gave them the land in a covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20) and they lived there. See the following Quote from the Quran, "Death to the enemies of Allah! Those that make war against Allah and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter: except those that repent before you reduce them. For you must know that Allah is..." This is what radical Islam says about us Jews’ “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim) A letter from leading rabbis here in Israel ? 'You will be remembered in the history of the Jewish people' "We are privileged to be seeing the rebuilding of Jerusalem," wrote the rabbis. "'Children play in its streets' (Zechariah 8:4) and we are confident in the fulfillment of all the prophecies. The United States is privileged to be one of the first nations to support the establishment of the State of Israel. US presidents have had the privilege of being at Israel's side and being a partner in the fulfillment of the vision of the prophets regarding the return to Zion and the establishment of the State of Israel." They continued, "We are confident that you will be remembered in the history of the Jewish people as one who stood at the forefront fearlessly. May it be His will that God's promise to Joshua (1:9) should be fulfilled in you: 'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go'—amen, amen." "With this recognition, we see the fulfillment of another step in the completion of the prophecy of Isaiah that the nations of the world will recognize the centrality of Jerusalem," said Rabbi Eliyahu. "'For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your vindication' (Isaiah 62:1). We hope that other enlightened and believing nations will follow in the footsteps of the United States." Psalms Chapter 83 תְּהִלִּים א שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף. 1 A Song, a Psalm of Asaph. ב אֱלֹהִים אַל-דֳּמִי-לָךְ; אַל-תֶּחֱרַשׁ וְאַל-תִּשְׁקֹט אֵל. 2 O God, keep not Thou silence; hold not Thy peace, and be not still, O God. ג כִּי-הִנֵּה אוֹיְבֶיךָ, יֶהֱמָיוּן; וּמְשַׂנְאֶיךָ, נָשְׂאוּ רֹאשׁ. 3 For, lo, Thine enemies are in an uproar; and they that hate Thee have lifted up the head. ד עַל-עַמְּךָ, יַעֲרִימוּ סוֹד; וְיִתְיָעֲצוּ, עַל-צְפוּנֶיךָ. 4 They hold crafty converse against Thy people, and take counsel against Thy treasured ones. ה אָמְרוּ–לְכוּ, וְנַכְחִידֵם מִגּוֹי; וְלֹא-יִזָּכֵר שֵׁם-יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד. 5 They have said: ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.’ ו כִּי נוֹעֲצוּ לֵב יַחְדָּו; עָלֶיךָ, בְּרִית יִכְרֹתוּ. 6 For they have consulted together with one consent; against Thee do they make a covenant; God’s word says in Zechariah 8:23 "Thus saith the LORD of Hosts: In Those days it shall come to pass, That ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." 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