The Board of the Fundación HispanoJudía (Hispanic-Jewish Foundation) marked yesterday the 530th anniversary since the Alhambra Decree of 1492, otherwise known as the Edict of Expulsion, by erecting a beautiful monument in the port of Cartagena, the last place in the Iberian Peninsula seen by Jews who departed Spain by sea.
The regional government of Murcia led by its President, Fernando Lopez Mira, and the Mayor of Cartagena, together with David Hatchwell, President of the Fundación and 30 members of its Board of Trustees from various countries were present at the inauguration of the monument.
The Fundación HispanoJudía commissioned the piece, El Abrazo (The Embrace) for the Jose Sacal Foundation as a gesture of the new relationship between the Hispanic and Jewish worlds. The renowned Mexican artist, Jose Sacal passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic and was proud of his Sephardic heritage.
On March 31st, 1492, the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, signed the infamous decree ordering the expulsion of practicing Jews from the Crowns of Castile and Aragon and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year. The decree was written as a way of disconnecting the forcibly converted Jews from the Jewish community.
Those who fled by sea created some of the most famous Sephardi communities in the Mediterranean and beyond, many of whom returned to the Land of Israel and created important communities in Safed, Tiberias and Jerusalem.
“The Decree was the last stroke of Antisemitism that ended one of the most magnificent Jewish Diaspora Communities in history,” said Hatchwell. “What occurred in the Iberian Peninsula over the following 500 years was the cruel and complete eradication of anything associated with Judaism. However, Spain is currently experiencing a revival of its Jewish Community.”
President López Miras’ said that this unique work allows Spaniards to pay homage to “all those who were forced from their homes and left their lives behind, but who, nonetheless, never gave up on their dream to return”.
“Cartagena is a port of cultures in its most pluralistic sense, because Spain is the sum of many rich and different identities, of all those that made this city, this region, and our country great.”
The Alhambra Decree was in effect until the Spanish Constitution of 1869 where Freedom of religion was officially granted. Ironically, Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco, a descendant of Jewish converts himself abrogated the Decree of Granada officially in 1969.
In recent years, Spain has made a series of critical gestures that include the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel in 1986, the visit of King Juan Carlos to the Madrid synagogue in 1992 and the passing of the 2015 law that gives the right to the descendants of the Sephardim to obtain Spanish citizenship.
The Fundación HispanoJudía was established in 2015 with the goal of building bridges of understanding through educational and cultural programs between the Hispanic and Jewish worlds. It is composed of a board of 80 leading philanthropists and an international board of 20 advisors, and has offices in Spain, Israel, Mexico, Argentina, Panama, Miami and New York. It will be opening a world class Museum in Madrid by 2024.