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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sephardic Heritage Trip to Spain 2014/5774: Day 3 - Seville

Our third day in Spain was spent entirely in the picturesque town of Seville. We began our excursion at the Real Alcazar, the Royal Palace. This breathtaking architectural gem is still a functioning residence for the king and queen of Spain. Adorned with mosaics, carved plaster, and exquisite woodwork, the palace was truly royal. We also walked through the palace's spacious gardens which included walking paths, pavilions, and a garden maze.
We moved on to the Jewish quarter of Seville which was nestled alongside the palace walls. This town was the home to Jewish greats such as the Ritba and Don Abarbanel. Although no Jews live here anymore, this was once a proud community of over 500 families. As we walk through the winding narrow streets of Seville, we heard how the Jewish community was decimated by the decrees of the Spanish Government and the Catholic Church. Any synagogues that were built were converted into churches and all Jewish land was confiscated. 
After a brief stop for lunch on the bank of the Guadalquivir River, we took a relaxing ferry ride (minus those who got seasick). We used the ferry time to bond with one another, as we saw beautiful views. We then took a short stroll to the castle which was the main base of the Spanish Inquisition. We walked through the ruins of the fortress that was used to imprison and torture those who practice Judaism in secret. We continued on to Plaza de Espania, which is a crescent shaped building surrounded by parks and a canal. Some of us strolled through the park, others travelled by horse and buggy around town, and still others rode boats in the canal. One of the highlights of the day was a race between Rabbi Beyda's boat and Mrs.Wielgus's boat. In a fierce competition, Rabbi Beyda's boat with Ralph Gindi paddling, Muriel Safdieh and Gail Mosseri cheering, the boat came from behind and edged out Mrs. Wielgus's boat in the last yards of the race. 
After a sumptuous dinner by Seuda, we experienced Spanish cultural art by visiting a Flamenco production. We were thrilled by the power and feeling of the dances, which are a traditional part of Spanish heritage. We ended the day by wishing Chloe Dweck a happy 18th birthday. We are looking forward to Shabbat in Gibraltar! ~Sarah Cohen