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The Sephardic Route Tortosa - Spain

In the early 13th century, the New Jewry was formed, between Calle Mayor de Remolins and the old medieval walls in Tortosa. The outside of the walls in Tortosa was reached through the Hierro Gateway, which was also known as the Jews Gateway. It is the only one that remains from the old Jewry in Tortosa today, and it leds to the Hebrew cemetery. Both the Old and the New Jewry have maintained their charm, with their maze-like street layout and many topographical features that serve to remind us of the longstanding presence of the Jews in Tortosa. In the 14th century, there were quite a number of eminent inhabitants of the call, such as the brothers Isaac and Jafudá Marçili or Abraham Mair, who were bankers that financed a number of the King’s enterprises.

The Tortosa Jewish quarter is well signposted and by following the signs, visitors can easily find the site of the synagogue, the early Talmudic school, the pottery, where Jewish hands carried on the Muslim tradition, or the bakery, where unleavened bread was baked for the Hebrew community.

The anti-Jewish revolts of 1391 were not as violent in Tortosa as elsewhere in Sephardic . Even so, to ensure their safety, the local authorities decided to confine the Hebrew community to the Castle of La Suda (now a Parador hotel), which stood on the city acropolis. The Tortosa Disputation, however, was famous throughout Spain and Europe. It was organized by Pope Benedict XIII, but initiated by his physician, a converso called Jerónimo de Santa Fe. Tortosa cathedral was the backdrop for almost sixty public meetings, which lasted until 1414, and were chaired by the Pope. They were attended by the wisest of Jewish scholars, who debated the issue of the coming of the Messiah, which was the main point of controversy between Jews and Christians. The outcome was that all those Jews who took part in the polemic, except two, converted. It was a foretaste of what was to come with the Papal Bull of 1415, which seriously restricted the freedom of Jews.

 


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