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First Jewish leader to visit Spain since 1492

Tue 7th Jun 2011

Granada has become the first Spanish city to welcome a Jewish leader in more than 500 years.

Shlomo Moshe Amar, the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, visited the city last week to visit the place where the expulsion edicts for Spanish Jews was drawn up in 1492.

The Jewish community in Spain is estimated to be as little as 25'000, a tiny percentage of the 47 million population, but was believed to be significantly higher before the Jews fell from favour.

The rabbi gave an address at the Town Hall where he spoke of the need to draw a line under the past and move forward with relations, looking to a positive future. He complimented Spain on now allowing cultures to live in harmony and hoped that many South American jews would be drawn to the country for an easier way of life.

However, elsewhere in Spain the Federation of Jewish Communities have criticised the Spanish authorities. A Barcelona court last week overturned a ruling against 4 men for distributing material denying that the holocaust happened. The court found that the men had simply distributed the literature through their bookshop and had not incited people to commit criminal acts fuelled by Nazi propaganda.

A study undertaken as recently as 2008 estimated that a general feeling of anti-semitism existed in 46% of the Spanish population, however negative feelings had fallen to 34% by 2011.

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