Translation of Lectura 4 - "España, un país judío"

Spain, a Jewish Country

At present, Jews are divided into two groups: Ashkenazi (Germans) and Sephardics (Spaniards). Sefarad was the Hebrew name for Spain.

The Jews lived in Spain since very ancient times. According to a tradition, they came with the Phoenician merchants, in Biblical times. They considered Spain to be a historically Jewish country.

During the Visigothic period, after the disappearance of the Roman Empire, the Jews suffered discrimination and repression. Desiring religious freedom, the Jews invited the Arabs to conquest the country. They (the Jews) collaborated with them (the Arabs).

Under the Arabic domination of Spain, the Jews prospered. Jewish culture reached heights unknown since Biblical times. The Jews were physicians, scientists, lawyers, statesmen, and philosophers. The most famous physician and philosopher was Maimonides, but there were many others.

It was in Spain where the Heberw language was used for the first time for secular poetry. In Spain, Biblical scholarship began. Jewish wise men prepared the first Biblical dictionary. The two authors of the book of Isaiah were identified.

Jews in other parts of the world recognized Sefarad as the center of Judaism. The mysterious and very rich kingdom of Granada was at the beginning a Jewish kingdom.

Queen Isabel the Catholic exiled the Jews in the year 1492. The Jews suffered a lot. They went to Holand, Italy, and especially to the Ottoman empire. Some emigrated, later, to the New World.

They conserve the Sephardic identity until today (in the present). In Israel there are currently newspapers in Spanish, written with the Hebrew alphabet.

Many Spanish Christians were converted Jews, or descendents of them. Américo Castro discovered the Jewish ancestry of many famous Spaniards: Cervantes, Loyola, Saint Theresa, and many others. Spain's great Catholic culture has a Jewish origin. It shares with Judiasm, in part, an attitude toward the world.