CURRENT INFORMATION ON CASA SEFARAD ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH WORLD NUMBER 44 // SEPTEMBER 2011 www.casasefarad-israel.es
From 12 to 17 September, Madrid is hosting a series of activities to promote cultural, gastronomic and tourist exchanges between the two cities.
TEL AVIV PROPOSES TO SEDUCE MADRID
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Excitement and responsibility Dear friends, These are the first words I am writing as the Ambassador with a Special Mission for Relations with the Jewish Community and Organisations and the Director of Casa Sefarad-Israel, which will be published in September's Alef magazine and so reach many friends of Jewish culture. As I start to get to grips with this new role, I would first like to share a message of enthusiasm and responsibility with you. I am undertaking the honourable task of strengthening Spain's relations with Jewish communities and Judaism with gratitude to the public authorities for their faith in me and with a message of enthusiasm for my co-workers to work with creativity and imagination at a time of budget austerity. My mission is to establish Casa Sefarad-Israel as a reference point for everyone who sympathises with the Jewish world in all its expressions. I want the Palacio de Cañete to host an attractive ongoing programme of activities starting with the priorities of culture and education linked to the Shoah in this new stage in our development. And I am doing this with the objective of avoiding what Elias Canetti, with a degree of irony, forecast as an evil of the present: that history would stop being real. Furthermore, my objective is to make Spanish Jews feel at home here in Casa Sefarad-Israel, so that their presence here and offering of advice should be totally natural. Of course, our doors will remain open to Jewish people from all over the world whether living in Spain or just passing through, to Sephardic Jews who movingly proclaim their Spanish roots from the Diaspora, and to Israel as a brother country in both Mediterranean latitude and democratic convictions. The coincidence of my new post commencing at the same time as the appointment of the new Israeli Ambassador to Spain, Alon Bar, will inspire a new and continuing relation between institutions which are able to project the multiple values of the young Israeli state onto our society. Shalom Álvaro Albacete DIRECTOR GENERAL
> GOVERNING COUNCIL PRESIDENT Trinidad Jiménez VICE-PRESIDENT Esperanza Aguirre Gil de Biedma VICE-PRESIDENT Alberto Ruíz Gallardón > CASA SEFARAD ISRAEL GENERAL DIRECTOR Álvaro Albacete GENERAL SECRETARY Miguel de Lucas HOLOCAUST AND ANTI-SEMITISM Henar Corbí CULTURE Esther Bendahan EDUCATION Sonia Sánchez PRESS AND COMMUNICATIONS Úrsula O'Kuinghttons PRODUCTION Belén Reina MANAGER Ramón de Albert Meruéndano REPRESENTATIVE IN ISRAEL Manuel Cimadevilla > ALEF MAGAZINE Editor Úrsula O'Kuinghttons Opinion coordinator Fernando Martínez-Vara de Rey Assistant Esther Querub Photography Pepe Méndez, Samuel Grané and Atlántida Comunicación (www.atlantidacdp.com) News and design Atlántida Comunicación (www.atlantidacdp.com) Alef is a monthly periodical published by Casa Sefarad Israel and Sefarad Editores. All rights reserved. Casa Sefarad Israel is not responsible for the editorial content or opinions expressed by the authors.
A 7:30 p.m. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission
"Una isla llamada hogar" (An island called home), chronicles and nostalgia from Cuban Jews Cuba’s Jewish community now numbers around 1,000 people. A century ago there were around 15,000 Jews, most of whom were from Europe. Their original destination was the United States so they referred to the island as “Cuba Hotel”, although many of them decided to stay there. However, the triumph of the Cuban Revolution gave rise to the migration of 90% of Cuban Jews. Most of the 1,000 Cuban Jews who form part of today's community have a mixed identity, and often become Jews after marrying a Jewish spouse. Therefore, the determining factor is choice rather than transmission. These and other considerations appear in the pages of "An island called home", a book combining history, evidence, ethnography, and personal thoughts. Ruth Behar is the author of the book. She has also directed the documentary entitled "Adío Kerida" which tells the story of the pursuit of identity by a group of Sephardic Jews with Cuban roots. Ruth Behar was born in Havana and emigrated with her family to New York as a child. She is an anthropology professor at the University of Michigan (USA), a profession which she combines with the creation of poetry and essays. This Jewish-Cuban author will present her book "Una isla llamada hogar" (An island called home) at an event which will also be attended by Concepción Bados, professor of Spanish Language at the Autonomous University of Madrid.
A 12:00 noon S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission
XII European Day of Jewish Culture: piano and violoncello concert at the Palacio de Cañete Casa Sefarad, in collaboration with the Argentine group Aletheuein led by Cristina Beati, is hosting a chamber music recital to celebrate the European Day of Jewish Culture. A repertoire of music inspired by Jewish issues and composers will be performed by the pianist Perla Gonilski and the cellist Marcelo Bru, including Hasidic and Sephardic melodies and the works of Mendelssohn, Mahler, Bloch and Gershwin. Marcelo Bru was born in Tucumán, Argentina. When he was nineteen he was awarded a grant from the French government to study at the National Conservatory and L’Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. He performed with the Camerata Bariloche for many years. He was a founder and member of the San Telmo Trio which frequently toured Latin America, the USA, Canada, Europe and the ex-Soviet Union. He was a member of the “Nuevo Trío Argentino” and has been a soloist with the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra since 1983. Perla Gonilski was born into a Jewish family in Buenos Aires. She has frequently performed as a soloist in Argentina and Spain, and has been a member of many chamber music groups. She has been teaching the piano at the “Arte Musas” Teacher Training Institute since 1978. She is the Artistic Director of Aletheuein and plays the piano in all of its concerts. The concert will start with a number of pieces by Max Bruch performed by the
young Barnatán Trio: Darío Meta on piano, Andrea Oliva on viola and Benito Moreno on clarinet.
A 7:30 p.m. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission
“The concert”: Arthur Rubinstein. A programme dedicated to leading Jewish performers of classical music Professor Jorge Araoz Badí, a music critic and teacher who often works with Casa Sefarad, has led excellent workshops on classical music in our last two programmes. In our new four-month programme, Professor Araoz Badí will be hosting a programme on the main Jewish performers of classical music. These are not conferences but rather sessions which create a musical portrait of an artist with the opportunity to listen to some of their concerts. The aim is to highlight the important contribution to musical performance made by Jewish artists for over two centuries. With a different programme on each occasion, each session –which will last approximately an hour and a half- will be divided into two parts. In the first part, the performer and his/ her musical career will be described and illustrated with audiovisual examples including, in most cases, documentary and historical material. In the second part we will listen to a complete musical piece performed by each artist. The first session will feature Arthur Rubinstein, the eminent Jewish pianist born in Lodz (Poland) in 1887. The second session will be held on Monday, 10 October and will be dedicated to the violinist Itzhak Perlman.
12-23 >SEPTEMBER Summer Ulpan. Casa Sefarad-Israel's intensive Hebrew course In response to great public demand, Casa Sefarad-Israel will be opening its first intensive course in modern Hebrew at its headquarters for university students and the general public interested in taking up or improving their knowledge of the Hebrew language. The course has two levels: beginners and advanced. In both levels morphological, syntactic, grammatical and communication aspects of Hebrew will be covered, while focusing on comprehension and oral expression. The course will be taught by Racheli Peled, a native-speaker and lecturer of Hebrew as a foreign language at the Rutenberg School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Casa Sefarad Ulpan will follow the study methodology accepted in Israeli universities, based on the long tradition of the Ulpan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where Hebrew is taught in Hebrew with the aim of creating an atmosphere similar to the one students would experience in Israel.
A 7:30 p.m. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission
“Jerusalem: The Biography” by Simon Sebag Montefiore “My aim here is to write about the history of Jerusalem in the broadest sense for general readers, whether they are atheists or believers, Christians, Muslims
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// Agenda or Jews, with no political agenda, even in today´s strife. I explain the history chronologically, through the lives of men and women, soldiers and prophets, poets and kings, peasants and musicians and the families who built Jerusalem”. The author's intention is explained in the preface to this splendid book about an enclave which many have identified as the “centre of the Earth”. It is the reference point for the great monotheist religions, a land of mystics and warriors coveted by Empires through the ages and the cornerstone of definitive peace in the Middle East. Sebag Montefiore covers 3,000 years to reveal the landmarks and contradictions of Jerusalem from the Canaanite era to the events resulting from the birth of Israel. Jews, Christians, Muslims, Crusaders, Mamelukes and Ottomans give life to a neverending story. Simon Sebag Montefiore is the author of historical works, including Young Stalin and The Court Of The Red Tsar, which have been translated into 35 languages. The author comes from a Sephardic Jewish family of bankers and diplomats and was born in London in 1965. Sebag Montefiore will present his work “Jerusalem: The Biography” at Casa Sefarad.
12-21 >SEPTEMBER S Sofia and Plovidv
1st Global Erensya Platform Summit The founding document of Erensya was signed at an event promoted by Casa Sefarad-Israel in Toledo in 2009 which was attended by representatives of Sephardic communities from Sarajevo, Belgrade, Skopje, Sofia, Salonika and Istanbul. The ceremony was attended by the Presidents of these communities as well
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as some of their members who have made outstanding contributions to supporting Jewish-Spanish and other expressions of Sephardic culture. In 2010 communities from the Moroccan Diaspora joined; these are those communities which first set roots in North Africa and mainly emigrated to Latin American in the 20th century. In addition, contacts have been established with the socalled Hispanic-Portuguese Nation, communities founded on the Diaspora route from Spain and Portugal which arrived in Holland and England and then spread to several locations in the Caribbean. The Sephardic communities in Bulgaria, grouped under the Shalom Foundation, are to host a summit in which different parts of the Sephardic Diaspora will be represented. The three-day event features a number of cultural and institutional activities which will be staged in the cities of Plovdiv and Sofia. Casa Sefarad and the Tres Culturas del Mediterráneo Foundation are taking part in the organisation and funding of the Summit, while the Spanish Embassy in Bulgaria is actively collaborating in the preparation of the events and will present a concert by the Israeli Mor Karbasi as well as a reception at its headquarters.
A 7:30 p.m. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission
Presentation of the book "Gramática de Hebreo Moderno" (Modern Hebrew Grammar) by Juan Carlos Lara Olmo, published by Caparrós Editores
In this book the author offers a descriptive
and didactic grammar of Modern Hebrew in Spanish, adopting the terminology and classification used in traditional teaching books. Juan Carlos Lara Olmo, Hebrew professor at the University of Salamanca, has made available the first comprehensive Modern Hebrew grammar book in Spanish for a Spanishspeaking public, overcoming the limitations offered by existing grammar books in English, Catalan, French or other languages.
A 7:30 p.m. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). G Information and registration: araozbadi@ telefonica.net. The programme will continue every Tuesday
Classical music workshops Professor Jorge Araoz Badí, who is descended from a prestigious line of Eastern European musicians, is Jewish-Argentine and has extensive experience as a music critic. His classes are always accompanied by numerous audiovisual examples. This initiative is aimed at music lovers and no previous training is required. The new class programme for Casa Sefarad-Israel will kick off with the introductory session "The composer: how music is made". The three subsequent sessions will examine the works of Beethoven, followed by that of Schubert and then the Romantic composers: Weber, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Chopin, Schumann and Brahms. In January 2012, the course will examine the major styles, genres and trends from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, focusing on Debussy, Ravel, Mahler and others.
A 7:30 p.m. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission
Presentation of “Memorias de un judío sefardí” (Memories of a Sephardic Jew)
Sociologist Amando de Miguel, journalist Santiago Trancón, and musician Dan Kofler, will be taking part in the presentation of “Memories of a Sephardic Jew”, based on the life of Dan Kofler. Santiago Trancón is from León and a Doctor of Hispanic Philology from the UNED distance learning university. He has published numerous books and hundreds of articles on dramatic and literary criticism and analysis. He has worked as a drama critic for the Diario 16 and El Mundo newspapers. As a theatre lover, he has acted in professional companies, being directed by Alberto Miralles and Adolfo Marsillach. Dan Kofler is a Sephardic Jew born in Bucharest (Romania, 1946). As a musician known as Dino del Monte, he introduced the cimbalom into flamenco and has renewed traditional rhythms. He has also released the records The four elements, Twilight and In between times, and has composed Concert for cimbalom and orchestra and Concert for flute and orchestra.
S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). N Until 30 October
“Fierro”, the famous sculpture of Dino Barrocas Iron is the main material used by Dino Barrocas in his creative work. He creates monumental sculptures and small forged creations to produce a personal universe of shapes and textures. “Fierro” is the title given to an exhibit which will bring
“through both his small pieces and his large sculptures we can perceive an air of truth, a presence that, far from any affectation, through humbleness, allows us to get closer to the true essence of things”.
A 5:30 p.m. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission
together Dino Barroca's major works from the last threeyears, which has been strongly influenced by his stay in the Bolivian and Peruvian altiplano (high plain) region. We can perceive in his work a search for divinity and immersion in the different methods for interpreting the divine by the human, starting from the aquatic world and ending in the sun. Another permanent concept in his work is roots, which in their most physical manifestation inspire the use of wood and other natural elements which can be seen in the works exhibited in the Palacio de Cañete garden. Dino Barrocas is a Sephardic Jew, born in Uruguay into a family which emigrated from Turkey to Cuba and later to South America. Critics have described his work by saying
Lights of JudeoRomanian Culture As part of both the Year of Romanian Culture in Spain and the selection of Romania as the country of honour at the LIBER Book Fair in Madrid (5 to 7 October), under the slogan "Two Cultures, One Root", the Institute of Romanian Culture and Casa Sefarad have planned an event that will pay homage to the tradition of Judeo-Romanian artistic creativity. Among those invited to the event are Paul Cornea (Professor at the University of Bucharest), Joaquín Garrigos (Translator of Judeo-Romanian literature into Spanish), Alexandru Solomon (Film director and screenwriter of a film on Paul Celan), Radu Cosasu (Judeo-Romanian writer) and Xavier Montoliu (Translator of Paul Celan's works into Spanish). The order of events for “Lights of Judeo-
Romanian Culture” will be: • Presentation of the film, "Duo for Paoloncello and Petronome" (1994) by its director, Alexandru Solomon. • Screening of “Duo for Paoloncello and Petronome”. The 28-minute film depicts the strong friendship that developed between JudeoRomanian poets Paul Celan and Petre Solomon (the father of the director) in Bucharest between 1940 and 1947. In trying times and in a world scarred with conflict, Celan and Solomon formed a duo that was capable of transforming disappointment and anxiety into poems and literary games. • Conference by Paul Cornea: “Judeo-Romanian Authors Translated into Spanish: Max Blecher, Lena Constante, Mihail Sebastian” • Reading of excerpts from the work of Radu Cosasu. Born in the Romanian town of Bacau in 1930, Cosasu brings the qualities of essayist, novelist and editor together in the cultural magazine “Dilema”.
A 7:30 p.m.) S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission
Borges and the Bible “The moon of the night is not the moon Seen by the first Adam”.
A total of 110 biblical references can be found in Jorge Luis Borges’ ample body of work. The Argentine author used events and characters from the Bible as a source of inspiration, particularly for his poetry. Twenty-five years after Borges’ death, Vervuert Editorial has published an enlightening study entitled "Borges and the Bible". The book is by Gonzalo Salvador, a Pompeu Fabra University-educated Doctor of Humanities, editor, translator and literary critic. “Borges and the Bible” begins by mentioning the research that Anglophone academic circles have conducted on the connections between the Bible and literature before going on to analyse three authors whose work is inconceivable without considering biblical influences: Dante, Milton and Blake. In the second part, Doctor Salvador discusses Borges’ idea of a divinely inspired writing system and explains Borges’ knowledge of, and fascination with, the Kabala. In the final part, the book analyzes Borges' treatment of figures such as Adam, Cain and Qoheleth (the prophet of Ecclesiastes). Casa Sefarad will host the presentation of “Borges and the Bible” at an event which will be attended by the editor, Klaus Vervuert, as well as the Jewish Argentine author Marcos Ricardo Barnatán.
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// Activities in pictures 1
1 y 2 The Palacio de Cañete will be displaying the exhibition “Huellas Paralelas” (Parallel footprints) by Rosa Juanco from July to September. This artist from Madrid combines oil paint and photographs in her tour of Jewish Spain. 3 A group of Israeli educators visited the Palacio de Cañete and was received by Miguel de Lucas and Katy Saba. 4 The astronomy workshop promoted by Casa SefaradIsrael ended with a telescope observation exercise in the Palacio de Cañete garden. 5 Santiago Martín Bermúdez talks about Vienna in the 20th century in a new event in the “Mahler Time” programme. 6 The Centropa organisation, which is based in Vienna,
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organised a summer course for more than 50 teachers from all around the world focusing on the Jewish Diasporas in Europe and the Holocaust. Casa SefaradIsrael was represented by Henar Corbi in order to evaluate the educational content and study whether it could be incorporated into Spain through our network of teachers. 7 After visiting Vienna, Krakow and Sarajevo, Centropa's course ended with a reception hosted by Alejandro Alvargonzález, Spain's Ambassador to Bosnia Herzegovina. He is shown in the photo with Edward Serotta (Director of Centropa), Miguel de Lucas and Henar Corbi.
// Cultural promotion “Let others brag about the pages they have written; I am proud of those that I have read”. This is a famous statement by Jorge Luis Borges, a voracious reader who also once said that he had never left his father's library. Literature was a perpetual source of knowledge and inspiration for Borges the writer, and a constant in the form of events and characters in his stories, essays and poems. BY FERNANDO MTEZ-VARA DE REY Motivated by an exhibition dedicated to this Buenos Aires author, Spain's National Library compiled the names of all the authors and titles cited in Borges' work: this study found that the word “Bible” was repeated 110 times, which strangely enough is exactly the same number of mentions as “Shakespeare”. The frequency of such mentions is perhaps due to the comprehensiveness of the Bible and its range of styles from the lyric to the epic, its timelessness and the ubiquity of its message. However, Jorge Luis Borges's fascination with the Bible responds to the sublime idea of writing with a divine order, a text composed ex nihilo by God. In his conference “The Book”, Borges described “a universe as a system of symbols, in which all creation, including the stars, supposes a secret writing by God. In this book, nothing happens by chance: neither the number of letters, the quantity of syllables in each verse, nor the fact that we can play word games with the letters, from which we can take the numeric value of the letters”. In this work, Borges evokes the contribution by Francis Bacon that two books have been authored by God: the Book of Scriptures reveals His Will, whilst the book of creatures reveals his Powers. Borges' interest in the Kabala, in which the principles compare the universe to a system of symbols, shines through such ideas and references. For Kabalists, Scripture constitutes an
Borges found in this source an immense well of wisdom which also reinforced his love for the Jewish world. Borges' life and work is truly overflowing with Jewish culture. We know of his enthusiasm for the works of Spinoza; his sympathy for the state of Israel; his loyalty towards the "Crypto-Jew" Rafael Cansinos-Assens –the father of the Ultraist Movement, writer and translator of many languages; and his robust friendships with Argentine Jews such as Carlos Grünberg and César Tiempo.
BORGES AND THE BIBLE absolute text with a perfect order and infinite meaning. One of the seven conferences which make up the famous volume “Seven Nights” is dedicated to the Kabala, with the text containing expressions such as “an infinite intelligence has condescended to the human task of writing a book" and "the Scriptures are an absolute text, and in an absolute text nothing can happen by chance".
Borges himself based his knowledge of the Kabala on the approach in “The Golem” by Gustav Meyrink, his conversations with Gerhard Scholem (“I believe we really are friends”) and endless reading. The Kabala offers us a world of meanings, a cosmological order, a sacred game of words which veils the meaning of all things.
Despite admitting that he learned the Bible through his Protestant English grandmother -"in some way, I have the Bible in my blood"Borges always thought of the Bible as a Jewish creation. From this perspective, Doctor Gonzalo Salvador has published a brilliant essay for Ediciones Iberoamericana/ Vervuert entitled "Borges and the Bible” which examines his influences -such as Dante, Milton and Blake- and his fascination with the idea of an infinite text, further analysing Borges' recreation of characters such as Job and Adam. This article is based on his conclusions, which are all the basis for the presentation of the work which will take place at Casa Sefarad on 27 September, with the participation of Marcos Ricardo Barnatán. During this event I am sure that the author's admiration for the Bible, which we briefly glimpse in his pursuit of condensing the universe into a unique, multilingual universe, will be clearly demonstrated.
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// Cultural promotion The name Tel Aviv means “hill of spring” in Hebrew. People say (and they are not wrong) that it is the "city that never stops”. It is energetic and cosmopolitan. It vibrates throughout the 14 kilometres of its territory on the Mediterranean coast. It has lived a lot in its 102 year history. This is how Tel Aviv presents itself to the world: temperamental, buzzing. Endless nights and the beaches of your dreams. It can satisfy your every wish (even at dawn).
TEL AVIV PROPOSES TO SEDUCE MADRID Tel Aviv is coming to Madrid with this as its calling card. For the first time, from 12 to 17 September, Spain's capital will host a series of activities aimed at boosting cultural, gastronomic and tourist exchanges between the cities. The reason for these activities is to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel. The activities on offer range from conferences to a Kosher cookery master class. But let's start with a little history. Tel Aviv's history goes back to Yafo (Jaffa), a town with a history stretching back some 3,000 years to which it was joined in the south
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west during the Ottoman Empire. This area of narrow alleys and stone houses is today's artist's area. 66 families founded this area in 1909 which would over time develop into the city it is today. It adopted its current name one year later. And it was here that David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948. Half a century later, Tel Aviv wants to follow the path beaten by its host, New York and Berlin and become a "gay-friendly destination” (there will be a seminar on this issue). And this goal is not so distant. This can be seen from a glance at the local press. On 10 June last
Gastronomy is another of the city's rising attractions, and the terrace of the Hotel Occidental Miguel Ángel has been chosen as the venue for tasting this for six nights
year, one hundred thousand people took part in the city's Gay Pride parade. No one can remember such a large parade. Whilst some of the most conservative and orthodox parts of society objected to the event, the march exceeded all expectations. Representatives of the main political parties answered the call of the
homosexual community (as did five thousand tourists) to demonstrate to the world that Tel Aviv is a "tolerant and free city, where people can be gay without harassment” in the words of Mayor Ron Hulday, whose office has submitted an official application to host next year's International Gay Pride Parade. Gastronomy is another of the city's rising attractions, and the terrace of the Hotel Occidental Miguel Ángel has been chosen as the venue for tasting this for six nights. The menu has been designed by Nir Elkayam, the executive chef at the Dan Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv, in collaboration with Manuel Prats, his counterpart at the host hotel;
it features tapas such as “Cuba” consisting of Bulgur wheat with mushrooms; Falafel; lamb neck stuffed with rice; beef and chicken kebabs with thyme, garlic and sumac; Egyptian semolina pie with date filling; and a traditional dessert using "kadaif" noodles which are used for sweet things. The tasting menu will cost around 45 euros. The menu will not be strictly Kosher, but rather “kosher style” in order to attract the largest number of people possible without adhering entirely to Jewish religious rules. The Bodegas Golán will be taking part in this event with a public wine tasting of the most widely exported
66 families founded this area in 1909 which would over time develop into the city it is today.
Kosher wines, whilst other companies taking part include The Water Company (one of whose main products is Kosher Boylan soft drinks), Cervezas Brabante and Veta La Palma (which produces seafood sausages under the guidance of Cadiz chef Ángel León). The event is also being supported by institutions such as Casa Sefarad-Israel, the Chambers of Commerce of Madrid and Israel, the respective tourist offices and the Israeli Embassy. There will also be a second event. This will take place in Tel Aviv with Madrid as the centre of attention. The exchange has of course got to go in both directions.
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// Guest opinion
An island called home BY RUTH BEHAR Fragment of 'Una isla llamada hogar' (Barcelona. Linkgua Ediciones, 2010) â€” What, Cuba again? What did you lose in Cuba? That was what my grandmother Ester, my Baba, always used to say when we met in Miami Beach every time I wanted to go back to visit the island I had left as a girl. She said it in Spanish. Baba's mother tongue was Yiddish, but we always spoke in Spanish. She was born in Goworowo in Poland in 1927 and emigrated to Cuba. She was nineteen at the time and wanted to be a cabaret singer; instead she married my grandfather MĂĄximo -my Zayde- and worked with him
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selling cloth in order to bring the rest of her family to Cuba and save them before the start of the dark night of the Holocaust. Throughout the 1990s the airplane took me to gate G 9 and a little after midnight I would creep silently into her apartment with my huge worm-like bag. And that wasn't the only bag I had with me. I also had a suitcase on wheels and a rucksack. I could hear Baba snoring and thought to myself "Excellent, I haven't woken her up". And then Baba would appear, like a ghost, standing in the doorway to her bedroom. She didn't have her false teeth in; her hair was in a hairnet; she wasn't wearing any make up; and her skinny body was wrapped up in a long nightgown: she seemed like the grandmother of all grandmothers.
Baba's mother tongue was Yiddish, but we always spoke in Spanish. She was born in Goworowo in Poland in 1927 and emigrated to Cuba.
"Baba! Babita!" I shrieked as I hugged and kissed her. So, you've got here at last then. I thought you were never going to get here. I said sorry for having woken her but she looked at me artfully and stated that she hadn't been asleep. "But you were snoring," I said, though she denied it. Then she started with the reproaches. "But you've got even more bags than last time! How much can you carry? You'll give yourself a kile", which is Yiddish for hernia. My bags were full of books for writer friends; canvas and paints for my artist friends and things for Caro my old
nana and her family -clothes, aspirin, slippers, shoes and soap. I was Robin Hood, taking from the rich to share with the poor. "How many times can you go back to Cuba? I donÂ´t think you should go any more." "Baba, I can't explain. I have this need to go to Cuba. She made a gesture of disbelief with her head and the worried look in her damp eyes overwhelmed me. "But, mamale, shayne maydele, how can you carry all of this on your own?" A few days later it was time to say goodbye to Baba. I
had already said goodbye to my husband David and son Gabriel in the quiet university city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I worked teaching anthropology. David knew that there was no alternative but to accept my intense desire to return to Cuba. At first Gabriel cried and clung on to me but, as the years passed, he got used to seeing me set off for a week or two in Cuba and stopped crying. "Bye mummy, see you soon" he would say in an almost casual sort of way, and then it was me that would cry on the plane when he couldn't see me. I would also say goodbye to my mother who lived in New York. She would call me at Baba's house and was always careful to say "we love
you", with the "we" including my father who was against my trips and never said goodbye to me before I set off for Cuba. Out of respect for my father, my mother would never go to Cuba. However, before each of my trips, she would always happily go out to buy the things that people had asked for. She said she was doing it to help me "you are so busy, you work so hard". But I knew that it was her way of coming with me on my trip to Cuba. The hardest thing was saying goodbye to Baba. She would stay in the doorway to her apartment -number 401trying not to cry. Why on earth was I abandoning her? She needed me; she was
on her own with no one to keep her company; she had cataracts and suffered from migraines and insomnia; and she wouldn't be here for ever. Baba watched as I struggled to get all my bags into the tiny elevator and shook her head in disgust. Before the door closed I said goodbye to her for the last time. She lived in one of those gardened buildings which are so typical of Miami Beach, with a door giving onto an exterior hall. Whenever I returned to see her, when I breathed in deeply, I could smell the ocean. It was sixteen blocks from her building to the sea, but I could smell it. It was unmistakeable. The smell of endless voyages.
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// Views of Israel
// Literary opinion
Gilad Shalit, suffering in the centre of a storm BY FERNANDO MTEZ-VARA DE REY H fernando.mvaraderey@ sefarad-israel.es
25 June this year marked the fifth anniversary of the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a military action by Hamas. His prolonged imprisonment and the physical and psychological stress he is suffering, together with the astronomical figures being demanded for his release, has stirred the consciences of people around the world, who have taken to the streets of Madrid, Paris, Rome, Miami and Tel Aviv to demand his freedom. Gilad Shalit was nineteen when he was assigned to a combat unit on the border with Gaza as part of his military service. A group of Hamas guerrillas slipped over the border, killed two Israeli soldiers and took recruit Shalit hostage. Five years later, the Red Cross has declared that Shalit is not a prisoner of war. This humanitarian organisation has used the word "kidnapped" to describe his situation, as a result of him not receiving visits from his family or the Red Cross itself, and because of the ransom demanded for his return, consisting of the release of all women and children belonging to Hamas held in Israeli jails, plus the release of one thousand other prisoners. Shalit's parents meanwhile have to suffer the agony
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of the situation, which they are not allowing to be forgotten. A year ago they erected a tent outside the Prime Minister's residence from which they denounce the situation as a "war crime" whilst promoting protest actions against the Israeli government. In general, no layer of Israeli society is immune to this cruel episode: they receive frequent and varied expressions of support, with the debate in the media and the street now focussing on whether the Government should pay the onerous ransom demanded by Hamas, as any military rescue operation is deemed unviable. The Israeli security services know who is holding Shalit and where he is being held, but they also know that any rescue operation would probably result in his death and that of the soldiers sent to rescue him. There is also an argument that the publicity from this event favours Hamas, whose leaders fully understand the pressure that the "Shalit case" is putting on the Israeli government and public opinion. As a result, Gilad Shalit interminable captivity is continuing against a background of strategic vacillation and endless discussions. Irrespective of all political and territorial aspects, his release is an absolute cause of human rights. Let's hope that his captors discover a whiff of clemency amid their convictions.
‘Barney's version’ • Mordecai Richler • Sexto Piso “Barney's version” is back in bookshops as a result of the release of the feature film “The world according to Barney”, which is faithfully based on the novel by the Jewish Canadian writer Mordecai Richler. “Barney's version”, which many consider the writer's masterpiece, narrates with biting comedy the slippery life of Barney through the prism of his own memory. The spark is a book written by his worst enemy revealing the worst episodes of his life, and even insinuating that he was involved in the death of his friend Boggie. Barney responds to this work with a detailed riposte which safeguards his honour and innocence, whilst at the same time revealing his weaknesses and excesses. Barney's story is based on three events relating to his successive marriages to three Jewish women: the stormy Clara, the insubstantial Sara and the unselfish Miriam, who he surprisingly falls in love with during his second wedding. The comic elements of his story are tinged with black humour which overflows into the drama: his addiction to alcohol and his excessive selfcenteredness which have distanced him from his wife and children do not cloud the reader's sympathy for the character so skilfully created by Richler. ‘Juan de Dios, saint and Jew’ • Ángel Ballesteros • Dilesa, Historic Novel In his first novel, Ángel Ballesteros, an eminent surgeon from Leon has recreated the life and work of Granada’s Juan Ciudad,
who was canonised in 1690 as Saint Juan de Dios. Following a life as a pastor, soldier and wandering salesman, Juan Ciudad was confined to a lunatic asylum and subjected to the violent methods of the time; in response to this, he dedicated the rest of his life to caring for the sick and the poor. Eighteen years of painstaking research and fourteen hours a day of effort over one and a half years have borne fruit in a splendid novel which recreates the social landscape of Spain in the 17th century. In the author's own words “this is not the biography of a saint, but rather a portrait of poverty, adversity and social injustice”. The author's devotion to Juan Ciudad, his calling and the history of Spain which form the background to his life, shines through the 800 pages of “Juan de Dios, Saint and Jew”. The historical background, including the campaigns of Carlos I in Flanders; the death of Felipe III; and the reign of the “Planet King” Felipe IV, provides cohesion and context to the story. Building on this historical basis, the author creates dialogues and characters, and introduces reasonable conjectures such as the Jewish ancestry of the future Saint Juan de Dios. w Fernando Mtez. Vara de Rey
// news 12th European Day of Jewish Culture in Spain The 12th European Day of Jewish Culture will be held on 4 September this year. This year 27 countries will simultaneously celebrate this day which aims to make the general public more aware of Jewish cultural heritage. In Spain, this day will be celebrated by the 21 cities in the Network of Jewish Quarters, in addition to Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Tui, Lucena and Castelló d’Empúries. The special programme prepared for this day features over 150 activities, including guided tours, exhibitions, concerts, workshops, conferences, fairs and craft markets, film screenings, food tastings and exchange trips. IN SPAIN BILBAO Works by Agam in the Guggenheim The Israeli artist Yaacov Agam is exhibiting his work at Bilbao's Guggenheim gallery as part of the temporary group exhibition ‘Pictorial Abstraction, 1949-1969’. This exhibition explores the most important currents in European and American painting in the 1950s and 1960s, and also includes works by Jackson Pollock, Antoni Tàpies and Piero Manzoni.
One of Agam's works in the Bilbao exhibition.
GETXO Ackerman at Getxophoto In August, the Begihandi Collective and the Mayor of Getxo, Imanol Landa, opened the Getxophoto International Photography Exhibition which will run in September under
the slogan ‘In praise of the elderly’. The exhibition features the work of Michael Ackerman (Israel), who will be offering his vision of old age from 1 to 30 September.
Germany but have different backgrounds and experiences. The exhibition features installations, videos and films, photographs, paintings and engravings. Boltanski with one of his works at
MADRID The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in the Auditorium On Wednesday 21 September, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will perform at Madrid's National Music Auditorium conducted by Zubin Mehta. The programme features pieces by Webern, Liszt and Tchaikovsky. The following day, the Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by the pianist Javier Perianes to perform works by Albéniz, Falla, Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov.
a recent exhibition in Paris
Leon Golub in the Palacio de Velázquez The exhibition of paintings by Leon Golub organised by the Reina Sofia Art Gallery in the Palacio de Velázquez will remain on display until 12 September.
ROTA 1st Jewish Film Season in Rota Tarbut Villa of Rota is organising its first Jewish Film Season, which runs until 16 September. Some of the films being screened include ‘Life is beautiful’, ‘Unfair competition’ and ‘The counterfeiters’.
OVIEDO Exhibition by Mihal Ronnen Safdíe The Israeli artist Mihal Ronnen Safdíe presents the photographic exhibition ‘The Western Wall’, consisting of 26 pieces which illuminate the mystical heart of Jerusalem. It will be on display from 15 August until 6 September in the Exhibition Hall at the Príncipe Felipe Auditorium. PALMA DE MALLORCA Christian Boltanski in Es Baluard The Es Baluard exhibition centre is hosting the exhibition ‘Signatures’ by the French-Jewish artist Christian Boltanski until 25 September. The artist's work rescues the faces of the Holocaust from being forgotten as he strives to recover memory. He achieves this using personal
objects such as clothes and toys, discovering the perturbing presence which they retain of their owners. RIBADAVIA The finest Jewish patisserie Until the end of the year, Ribadavia Council (Ourense) invites you to discover and enjoy the tastes of Jewish gastronomy at the Tafona da Herminia, an oven used to prepare traditional Jewish pastries from their original recipes.
TOLEDO Jewish literature course The School of Translators of Toledo is offering an "Introduction to Jewish literature (based on the original texts)" which will run from 29 September to 24 May. The conferences will be led by Rahel Peled, a qualified teacher of Jewish Studies and Hebrew as a foreign language. ABROAD GERMANY Questions on the nature of being German The Jewish Museum of Berlin is holding the exhibition ‘How German is it? The notion of home of 30 artists’, which will run from 16 September until January next year. The exhibition features the work of thirty artists who live in
UNITED STATES Exhibition on Ezra Jack Keats The Jewish Museum of New York is holding the exhibition ‘The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats’, on the life (1916–1983) and work of the award winning author and illustrator of unforgettable children's books. The exhibition runs from 9 September to January next year. FRANCE Meeting with David Grossman The Paris Museum of Jewish Art and History is holding a meeting with the Israeli writer David Grossman on Tuesday, 6 September, to mark the publication in France of his novel ‘Une femme fuyant l'annonce’ (Seuil, 2011). ISRAEL Helmar Lerski at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem The Israel Museum of Jerusalem is hosting an exhibition of photographs from the 1940s by Helmar Lerski entitled ‘Working Hands’. Lerski achieved dramatic results during his photo shoots by using old mirrors to light his models. Despite not being well known to the general public, he is considered to be one of the most important portrait photographers of the last century. MEXICO The Jewish origins of Christianity On 1 September, Mario Sabán, a Doctor of Philosophy and president of the Tarbut Sefarad Jewish cultural network, will be hosting a conference on ‘The Jewish origins of Christianity’ at the Anáhuac Norte University (Mexico City).
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// interview When David Broza was a teenager he used to collect things from his house and set up stall on one of the pavements in Madrid's Rastro market. He used to sell paintings and things to the people who visited one of the most traditional sites in Madrid. This is just one of the memories that one of the most recognised of Israeli artists treasures from his time in Spain. Today, he sighs when he remembers images of the concerts he has performed in this country. He does not want to lose contact. Neither will he stop supporting initiatives launched by the public to produce a path to lasting peace in the Region. It may sound utopian, but this composer is overflowing with faith and hope.
You have just released a disc in Hebrew, how important is this in your artistic career? It is called "La tercera lengua" (The third language) and consists of new songs. I wrote the words and music. It has been produced entirely over the Internet, which is a unique approach in the music industry. I am just about to start a project in Spanish, English, Arabic and Hebrew. I hope to be able to record it in eight months. What is the inspiration for your music? I am a singer-songwriter and a troubadour; I am really curious about the roots of rock, blues, jazz, flamencoâ€Ś My music is a fusion of the sounds of Israel and various styles, American folklore and Spanish rhythms. In summary, it has a bit of everything. But you have a very close relationship with flamenco? I admire it and I am curious about it. Today everything is so open that you can add some flamenco touches whilst at the same time playing a country song. What is David Broza inspired by? Most of the poetry and the songs I sing talk about the relationships in my life. Some of them are related to the situation in Israel and the Middle East or are poems
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DAVID BROZA “We should not pay so much attention to politics, but rather, to the beat of our heart”
My music is a fusion of the sounds of Israel and various styles, American folklore and Spanish rhythms by American or Spanish authors relating to social problems. I am involved in the peace process in the Region and, even though I sing love songs, the people who hear them often think that they are related to political issues despite being songs about personal stories. You are permanently involved with the most vulnerable groups affected by the situation, particularly the constant violence. What have you got from these experiences? I have always believed that human beings are evil because they want to protect things that they do not understand; when you understand them, you can confront them. Despite being so sad, these contacts enable me to see things with a degree of optimism and faith. What is the route for achieving peace? Working with people, not taking the political path but getting the general public involved. You have to make an effort to find a partner for anything you do. You have to start to build personal relationships to see with the eyes of the other and to feel their heart. The person we call the enemy is just another human being. We should not pay so much attention to politics, but rather, to the beat
You have to start to build personal relationships to see with the eyes of the other and to feel their heart
of our heart and the blood that courses through our veins. Your song “Things will get better” has mobilised thousands of people in Israel… What do you think of these demonstrations, the largest in history? There are many songs which inspire: this is a popular song which brings everyone together, both left and right. It evokes sensations of hope. And this is a revolution which is so dignified, so honest… Those chosen to govern the country every four years have given their service, and the public needs to monitor them. That is our duty. What is the key to change? There will only be results if people meet, discuss and prepare a plan, but you can't achieve this just with two weeks of demonstrations. Those in power cannot just stay in their Palaces, they need to get back in touch with the people. Change is not going to happen by chance.
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CURRENT INFORMATION ON CASA SEFARAD ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH WORLD SEPTEMBER 2011 www.casasefarad-israel.es
// the quotation
Every beginning has its charm. Johann Wolfgang Goethe
// The profile
AMOS OZ RELEASES THE HILL OF EVIL COUNSEL IN SPAIN
In order to understand more deeply the history of Israel we need to immerse ourselves in the work of a writer who was a tremendous chauvinist as a child. This writer is Amos Oz, whose roots are Russian and Polish. In the 1930s, his family entered an enormous refugee camp called Karem Abraham. He misses it, but it does not interest him, as he stated recently in an interview with El País. Today it is an ultraorthodox religious area. The critics consider his autobiography, “A tale of love and darkness”, to be his masterpiece. In it, he talks about his childhood against the background of the British Mandate, the war and the suicide of his mother. We have to go back to 1974 to discover that in the latest book to be published in Spain, as in all his texts, he talks about the relationship with the other. The Hill of Evil Counsel is a collection of stories based around the relationship between the Jews and the land of Palestine, and with the Europe from which they have fled and the Arabs who surround them. His books have been translated into 37 languages. When he was awarded the Príncipe de Asturias Prize,
the jury highlighted his contribution to making "the Hebrew language a brilliant instrument for the literary art and for the accurate revelation of the most urgent and universal realities of our time, paying particular attention to defending peace between peoples and denouncing all manifestations of fanaticism”. He is the most widely read Israeli author in the world, but the same thing is happening to him as happened to the last winner of the Noble Prize for Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa. He is always in the running for the award from the Swedish Academy, but the Prize is always out of reach of the eternal candidate. Today, Oz has become one of the supporters of the largest social protests ever seen in Israel. In an open letter published in the Haaretz newspaper, the writer warns that among the protagonists there is “humiliation at the indifference of the Government to the people, the discrimination against working people and the destruction of social solidarity”. It would seem that polemics are never far from his life.
About us.Casa Sefarad-Israel is a Spanish institution established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Madrid Regional Government and the Madrid City Council. Our objectives: To promote relationships of friendship and cooperation between Spain, Israel and Jewish communities all over the world by carrying out activities in the political, economic, social, scientific and cultural fields.Where to find us? C/ Mayor, 69. Madrid / Tel.: + 34 91 391 10 02. www.casasefarad-israel.es E-mail: email@example.com -).)34%2)/ $% !35.4/3 %84%2)/2%3 9 $% #//0%2!#).
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