Spain, which recently announced it would offer citizenship to Sephardic Jews who could prove their Spanish ancestry, is also rediscovering its rich Jewish past — a past long ignored.
After expelling its long-established Jewish community more than 500 years ago, it is not only inviting the Sephardic Jews’ descendants back, but also making it easy to learn about their ancestors. One such sign of this is the Red de Juderías de España, the Network of Jewish neighborhoods, a non-profit association founded in 1995 that highlights the Jewish architectural, historical, artistic and cultural heritage of 24 Spanish cities, from Avila to Tudela. That city was the home of noted world traveler Benjamin of Tudela who wrote of his far-flung visits in the 12th century that may have taken him as far as China and India.
The project, called Caminos de Sefarad (Spain’s Jewish Streets), allows users from around the world to visit and tour the cities of Spain’s Jewish past on the Web. It was unveiled Dec. 19 at the Centro Sefarad-Israel in Madrid.
Caminos uses Google Maps technology so viewers can click on a landmark to reveal historical information about each site, and it enables a 360-degree view of the different locations, thanks to Google’s street-view technology. An intuitive search panel presents Jewish heritage sites by category, type, geographic zone and date. In total, 523 sites, 910 dates and 1,667 pictures are displayed.