A Spanish news item caught my eye recently about a medieval conference in Zamora Province, and today the Jerusalem Post has reported on it in English, which you can read here. It’s a very exciting story!
What it boils down to is that some Jewish scholars challenged Spain on the way textbook history is taught here. (They’re a little less than forthcoming or accurate.) Cervantes was the focal point of discussion. The evidence so powerfully pointed toward his being of Jewish ancestry that no one could deny this long promoted theory any longer. Hooray!
In my own research and casual encounters, I’ve been no stranger to Spain’s refusal to engage in an honest, open dialogue regarding its Jewish history and identity, and the significant contributions of Jewish Spaniards to its rich cultural fabric. The manifestations of whitewash and denial alternate between pathetic, laughable or just plain disgraceful, making it nearly impossible for me to take the country, its pundits or its academics seriously on pretty much any subject, including its celebrated gastronomy.
There’s a city here I’ve wanted to challenge for some time on their official gastronomic history, just as they’ve now done with Cervantes in Zamora. My research, which figured in the investigation for my book, is long concluded and equally compelling, but I haven’t had the funds to make the trip. Which is a shame, because my findings rip the official story to shreds, and I’m not afraid to rattle a few cages – especially when the captive inside is a covered-up truth about my ancestors.
I may not know when I’ll be able to make that trip, but I am delighted to know that some other voices that challenge the status quo are at last being heard – and heeded – by those who need to hear them most: the Spanish. Mashallah!
I felt optimistic reading the JPost article, and I found myself envisioning this 500 year old conspiracy of silence breaking down at last, like the Berlin Wall. That came down because it no longer served any useful purpose. It grew outdated as a concept. My friend Ori was living in Berlin when the wall was torn down from both sides, first slowly, brick by brick, and then in the ensuing days with a sudden surge of joyful exuberance, when they realized nothing bad was going to happen. The East Berliners peered through the gaping holes with eyes wide and jaws dropping, astonished to see the very modern world on the other side. Many of them – scores? hundreds? thousands? – without any hesitation, stepped over the rubble, walked on through, and never looked back.
If I live to see the equivalent day in Spain, everything else I’ve endured will have been worth it.