Photo Credit: courtesy, Sharon Katz
Room of the Inquisition

The Nine Days began Thursday night, launching the start of the month of Av on the Hebrew calendar and the period leading up to Tisha B’Av (Ninth of Av) — the date of the destruction of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem, as well as the date of the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, among other tragedies on the Jewish calendar.

Relations between Israel and Spain have greatly deteriorated, to the point that Spain has been named by the Gatestone Institute as the European Union member “most hostile towards the Jewish state.”

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Despite the fact that 20 percent of Spanish residents have Jewish blood, descending from conversos and anusim (forced converts) of 14th and 15th century Spain, the Anti-Defamation League and Casa Sefarad-Israel both report that one-third of Spaniards “harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.”

According to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the majority of Spaniards feel Jews control the economy and mass media. A third of those polled said they disliked the Jewish religion, their customs or their way of life. According to Casa Sefarad-Israel, the legacy of Jew-hatred from medieval Spain has survived within popular culture, even though Spaniards had not been exposed to Jews from 1492 until the 19th century.

Last year’s visit to Spain by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin to mark 100 years of renewed Jewish presence in Spain since the Expulsion, also aimed to support today’s Spanish Jewish
community in the fight against anti-Semitism. The Pew Research Center, however, reports that negative opinions of Jews have risen dramatically in Spain.

Moreover, even though the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport announced in February that it would combat anti-Semitism through education, the rise of Podemos, a political far-left party, has caused the spread of anti-Israel sentiment and actions.

Municipalities and townships have cut off relations with Israel, cancelled Israeli and Jewish performers at cultural events and joined BDS boycott actions against Israel.

Meanwhile, interest in Spain has increased with the invitation by the Spanish government for Jews with Spanish roots to apply for Spanish citizenship, the development of Jewish heritage
tours throughout the country, and the awakening of millions of bnei anusim (forced converts) to their Sephardic (Jews from Spain) roots.

Interest in the story of Jewish survival during the Inquisition has prompted the Orthodox Union Israel and the Women’s Performance Community of Jerusalem to bring to the stage, “HIDDEN – The Secret Jews of Spain”.

Premiering November 11 in Jerusalem, “HIDDEN” explores the conflicts of a young priest, who on the day of his rise to Inquisitor of Madrid in 1715, discovers that his Jewish heretical family is alive and about to be killed by the Inquisition.

Playwrights Sharon Katz and Avital Macales have written and composed the new musical, set in Spain of 1692, two hundred years after the traumatic expulsion of Jews from Spain and the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition. The heroes of the story, Aguilar family, live outwardly as Christians and secretly as Jews, and struggle to survive this dark period in history.

The musical is based on the book “The Family Aguilar,” with permission from Feldheim Publishers.

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