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  • Day12

    Guided Tour of the Jewish Quarter

    July 9, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    We went on a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter at 5:30pm. The guide explained the reasons why the Jews lived so close to the royal palace and could be in the King's court in just one minute's walk. The Jews, prior to the Black Plague in 1350, were very popular with the King for two reasons: firstly, because they could lend money which the king often needed, and, secondly, they were the best doctors in Spain so they king called on them for medical treatment. However, when the Black Plague decimated the population of Seville, the Jews did not catch the plague. This led to accusations of various kinds, including the Jews poisoned the water, the Jews killed Christ and this is God's punishment on the Catholics for favouring the Jews in the city, and the Jews have all the money of the city and are causing the Catholics to suffer.

    This all led to an uprising of antisemitism which culminated in one night of massacre in 1391 when the people of Seville rioted and killed 4000 of the 5000 Jews living in Seville. This led to the remaining Jews to flee to other parts of the city and they had to convert to Christianity if they were to be saved. Why didn't the king stand up for them? Because he was so in debt to the Jews that he was thankful that the people had killed the people to whom he owed money. It was an easy way to wipe out a debt.

    The inquisition commenced here in Seville. It was designed to investigate first whether the Jews had really converted to Christianity or were they just doing so to save their lives and secretly keeping their Jewish rituals behind closed doors. The first hearings were held in a small square in the Jewish Quarter. There are two narrow streets going off the square very close together. One street is called Vide (which means life) the other is called Morte (which means death). If the inquisition found the accused innocent, they were taken down the street named life, if found guilty, they were taken down the other street to be executed. It is a chilling reminder of the cruel reality of the Catholic Inquisition. There is a museum located where the first headquarters of the Inquisition was located in Spain. It is here in Seville and we hope to visit it tomorrow.

    There is a square in Seville where a synagogue was located in Seville, but it was destroyed. There is a little Jewish symbol on buildings here wherever there is something of significance to the Jews. They are hard to find, but the guide pointed them out. For example, there is a small underground walkway where the Jews resorted to praying out of sight after the persecutions began. There is also a symbol in the square where the synagogue once stood in the 14th century.

    There are only about 150 Jews living in Seville today, not enough religious Jews to have a synagogue. The Jewish community has never really returned to Spain after they were so persecuted and then expelled in the 14th and 15th centuries.
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