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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sephardic Heritage Trip to Spain 2016/5776: Day 1

Students outside the Royal Palace in Madrid
Twenty two Yeshivah of Flatbush seniors embarked on a week-long Sephardic Heritage and Spanish Culture Trip to Spain and Gibraltar with Rabbi Joseph Beyda and Ms. Mica Bloom. This trip will give our students the opportunity to explore both the story of Sephardic Jewry as well as contemporary Spanish culture in some of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in Europe. Throughout the trip student will share their reflections about their experiences:

Today, we arrived in Toledo and toured the Jewish quarter, where many of the medieval synagogues used to be. We went to the Santa Maria la Blanca, an old synagogue, which was converted to a church. We also visited the Museum of Sephardo, a former private shul that is now owned by the government. In both shuls the ceilings were high and the architect was very detailed and precise. Even though many of the Jews no longer live in the city, there are many Jewish symbols that demonstrate that Jews have left their mark on the city such as images of a menorah in the floors.

We then returned to Madrid where we toured the Royal Palace.  We strolled through 24 of the grandest rooms we've ever seen, including a dining room table for 140 people!  We also saw the King's crown and scepter and a room with the most expensive Stradivarius violins in the world.  The palace took 26 years to be completed and each room is more ornate than the next. The rooms are filled with clocks and magnificent chandeliers. Throughout the palace there were clocks that were collected by Carlos the 13th. We also visited the armory which had an extensive display of medieval armor.
Next, we went to Plaza Mayor, a town square notorious for rigged trials during the Inquisition. We had time to check in to our hotel and shower before dinner. We had a catered dinner and prayed Arbit. We were surprised to find that the son of one of the local congregants had just married a young woman from Rabbi Beyda's congregation.  What a small world it is!

We are absolutely wiped from the long days and the travel, but we are eager to go out again tomorrow and continue this journey.
~Ruthie Gindi, Pam Cohen, and Rabbi Beyda
Toledo Synagogue