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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Sephardic Heritage Trip 2019/5779: Day 1

On Wednesday night, fourteen seniors took off for Spain, Morocco, and Gibraltar for the Yeshivah of Flatbush Sephardic Heritage trip along with Mrs. Wielgus and Rabbi Avi Harari.

Day 1 of the Sephardic Heritage was off to an amazing start! After a great flight with lots of empty seats aboard, we landed in Madrid and met our tour guide Moses. We went straight to the Plaza Major where we learned about the persecution of Jews in the Spanish inquisition and saw the exact spot where they were burned in the Auto-da-fés.
Next we explored the magnificent Royal Palace - the biggest palace in Europe! - and some of its 3,000 plus breathtaking rooms.
We then traveled south to tour the city of Toledo - one of the most important cities for Jews in Spain. We had fun zip lining over the Tagus river and took in the beautiful sights of this medieval city while we ate lunch. After lunch, we learned about the ultimately tragic history of the Jewish community of Toledo from Moses and our own Stanley Cohen. We toured two magnificent synagogues that had been turned into churches but were now museums. We also saw ancient Jewish tombstones that testified to the existence of Jewish communities for hundreds of years in Spain. Another highlight was praying mincha in the El Transito Synagogue of Shmuel HaLevi Abulafia - it reinforced for us that although we had been persecuted and ultimately thrown out of Spain, אנחנו פה! We are still here -while the descendants of Ferdinand and Isabella and the inquisitors vanished from history. We then visited a jewelry and sword making workshop and then took one of the world's longest escalators down to see a panoramic view of the city.
Finally, we traveled back to Madrid and caught a high speed train to Malaga in the South where we will spend the night before traveling to Gibraltar for the weekend. We can’t wait to meet the apes of Gibraltar tomorrow!
~David Tawil, Class of 2019