The concept of time, according to Jewish thought, is not the one of a flow in a single direction. Time is a process in which past, present and future are bound to one another, not only by bonds of cause and effect, but also like two movements that are interlaced, the one forwards and other backwards, in a cyclical structure. Time is like a spiral, or a helix, that turns incessantly from the time of creation. There is always a return to the past: the past is never a state that has disappeared and will never be again. (Translation of the text of Adin Steinsaltz: La Rose aux 13 pétales, Albin Michel, p. 88).
Archaeological excavations are once again taking place in the Jewish quarter of the Puente Castro district, which is also known as Castro de los Judios (Castle of the Jews).
The digs are lead by professors Jose Luis Avello and Jorge Sanchez-Lafuente. The abandoned area has been the object, for several years, of a systematic excavation by a team from the University of Leon. The City Council of Leon has provided the human, material and economic resources necessary to carry out the work. The work done, up until now, has made it possible to glimpse the great possibilities - scientific as well as dissemination of the patrimony - that come together at the site. Being aware of this circumstance, the Council of Patrimony, in collaboration with Culture and Tourism, has decided to make a clear commitment to the social, cultural and tourist possibilities of Castro de los Judios, remembering that the best way to raise public awareness on the defence and protection of the patrimony consists in making it known so that it is valued, protected and enjoyed, which will make this patrimony an educational and cultural resource for a certain part of the community.
One of the first results of this collaboration will soon be the signing of a collaboration agreement between the City Council of Leon (Council of Patrimony) and the University of Leon for the purpose of establishing the conditions that regulate the development of the archaeological excavations.
Likewise, within the strategic plans of this council, an Archaeological Classroom and a Interpretation Centre will be created in the old church of Santo Tomas de Canterbury, located in the city centre of Puente Castro. In this way, there will be a suitable exhibition area in which to develop a route of the history, society and Hispanic-Jewish culture, its implantation in the city of Leon (Aljamas of the district of San Martin-Santa Ana and Puente Castro) and in the rest of the province where there are up to 23 known Jewish quarters (Sahagún, Astorga, Valderas, Cea, etc.), as well as in other Hispanic kingdoms.
Information will also be included on the Sephardic world, and the importance of the Way of St James will be remembered and special emphasis placed on the relevance that it implied for Puente Castro and Leon.
As part of the project of dissemination of information about the municipal patrimony, the Council of Patrimony of the City Council of Leon has recently published a triptych entitled: The Jewish Route. It covers the area occupied, in the Middles Ages, by the Jewish quarter in Leon. The quarter was located to one end of the medieval town and founded outside of the old Roman walled enclosure; it was inhabited mostly by members of the nobility and church. Unfortunately, no buildings from the area have survived, although its mark can be followed these days with clarity in the layout of its streets and the naming of some places (Prado de los Judios, meadow of the Jews, and Postigo de los Judios, gate of the Jews). We trust, however, that the archaeological excavations that are being carried out in the area will soon provide remains pertaining to this Jewish quarter.
On 30th April, the magazine entitled Entrelineas will be presented in this city. It will be published in Israel and coordinated by the writer of Sephardic origin Margalit Matitiahu. This publication is distributed all over the Spanish-speaking world and on this occasion it will be dedicated to the writers from Leon, in tribute to the Leonine origin of this writer.
In addition, the cookery book La cocina judia (Jewish Cooking) by Uriel Macias will be presented on 15th April at 7:30 pm in the Cervantes Bookstore in Oviedo.
From 27th February to 6th May a new exhibition by Anny Berman can be seen in Girona. The Chilean artist, now living in Barcelona, has designed and created a journey through the main celebrations of the Jewish calendar, from the Sabbath to Succoth using images and objects. It is foreseen that this exhibition will travel to other cities of the network, beginning with Cordoba in autumn.
On a similar note, the lectures of the cycle Judaism, between worship and tradition continue being held on Thursdays this spring. Ariel Edery will take part on 22nd April with the title Exodus and the Promised Land: the meaning of Pesach in the contemporary Judaism and on 13th May, Paloma Diaz-Mas will speak on the Sabbath in the conference entitled: Buena semana mos dé el Dio: Sabbath and holidays in Sephardic romances and songs.
A walk through Jewish holidays and traditions ends in May coinciding with the 49th exhibition of courtyards entitled Girona, temps de flors (from 8th to 16th May 2004).
The festival Music for Peace will be held in Leon from 17th to 23rd May as part of the activities included in JACOBEO 2004. Soloists and musical groups from the three cultures, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, will participate. Participants from the latter will include: Sheva, a modern music group, Emil Zrihan, who plays religious music, and the Classical Orchestra of Nazareth.
Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters is a non profit public association with the goal of protect urbanistic, architectonical, historical, artistic and cultural Sephardic Heritage in Spain.
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