In the wake of the horrendous recent terrorist attack in my city, our chief rabbi declared that the Jewish community here is “doomed” and encouraged us to buy property in Israel. With all due respect to the rabbi, he is wrong.
I am 34 years old and have lived in Barcelona since I was 4. I attended the Jewish day school, the public high school and Barcelona University. During the past three years, I have been privileged to serve as director of the Jewish community of Barcelona.
I know this historic community and its people quite well. Next year we will celebrate the centenary of our community’s re-establishment following the expulsion of 1492.
In these past 100 years, Jews from all over the world have been attracted to play an active role in the life of our community: Turkish and Greek Jews who arrived during World War I; activists who participated in the Spanish Civil War; Jews fleeing European anti-Semitism; Moroccan Jews who arrived after the independence of their native country; Latin American Jews; and large numbers of Israelis who have fallen in love with our city.
Barcelona is a dynamic Jewish melting pot. We are religiously pluralistic, blessed with four synagogues each embracing a different approach to Judaism. Like Jews everywhere, we relish arguing among ourselves. Yet one of the things that unites us is our relationship with and love of the city.
And not without reason. Barcelona is synonymous with solidarity, welcome, peace and cultural diversity. It is a mecca for those interested in history, art, architecture, soccer and postcard landscapes. We proudly show our city to friends from abroad. Barcelona is truly an international city. It is no coincidence that those killed and injured in the terrorist attack came from 34 different countries.
We are experiencing a revival of Jewish culture. Last year, we organized the first Jewish Literature Festival. This year marks the 19th anniversary of the Jewish Film Festival of Barcelona.
The Jewish Museum and Study Center of Girona, not far from Barcelona, is a place to discover our Jewish medieval history, which includes the great Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman, the Ramban. Many municipalities participate in the European Day of Jewish Culture.
The goal of the terrorists is to make us afraid. Barcelona is not afraid. The Jewish community here is not afraid. This cowardly act of violence will only make us stronger in our resolve to stay and grow the Jewish community of this amazing city.
Victor Sorenssen is director of Comunidad Israelita de Barcelona, the Barcelona Jewish Community.