statue in Columbia marks 530 years since the expulsion of Jews from Spain | JNS

The board of trustees of the Hispanic Jewish Foundation (Fundación HispanoJudía) erected a monument in the port of Cartagena in Colombia to mark 530 years since the Alhambra decree that forced the expulsion of Jews from Spain.

The foundation said it commissioned the piece, “El Abrazo” (“The Embrace”), for the José Sacal Foundation “as a gesture of the new relationship between the Hispanic and Jewish worlds.” Mexican Jewish artist José Sacal has died during the coronavirus pandemic.

The location of the monument is also important because the port of Cartagena was the last place on the Iberian Peninsula that Jews saw before leaving Spain by sea following the anti-Jewish decree.

The inauguration of the monument was attended by the regional government of Murcia, led by its president, Fernando Lopez Mira; the mayor of Cartagena; Hispanic Jewish Foundation President David Hatchwell; and 30 members of its Board of Directors from various countries.

On March 31, 1492, the Catholic monarchs of Spain, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, signed a decree ordering the expulsion of observant Jews from their kingdoms by July 31 of that year. Those who did not leave or convert to Christianity were sentenced to death.

The Alhambra Decree was in effect until the Spanish Constitution of 1869 officially granted freedom of religion. By then, hundreds of thousands of Jews had fled Spain.

“The executive order was the latest blow of anti-Semitism that has ended one of the most magnificent Diaspora Jewish communities in history,” Hatchwell said. “What happened in the Iberian Peninsula over the next 500 years was the cruel and complete eradication of everything associated with Judaism. However, Spain is now experiencing a revival of its Jewish community.

López Mira said the statue honors “all those who were driven from their homes and left their lives behind, but who nevertheless never gave up on their dream of coming back.”

Spain established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1986. In 2015, a law was passed that gives descendants of Sephardic Jews the right to obtain Spanish citizenship.

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