Some 1,000 Christians from 50 countries staged a massive act of repentance in Toledo last week for the edict that expelled Jews from Spain 500 years ago.
They made public petitions signed by thousands of Christians worldwide calling for the restoration to Jewish administration of an ancient Toledo synagogue, Santa Maria la Blanca.
The imposing 14th-century synagogue, which later became a church, is now a museum under the Spanish Ministry of Culture.
In an address to the gathering, former Israeli president Yitzhak Navon said he was moved by the “sympathy and affection” which brought together Christian friends of Israel at the initiative of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.
“We wanted the Jews of the world to know that although Spain and most of its people brushed off the 500th anniversary of the expulsion in order to concentrate on the Expo, the quincentenary of the discovery of America, the Olympics and Madrid Cultural Capital, there are others who do care,” said Samuel del Coso Roman, the Embassy’s representative in Spain. Del Coso said King Juan Carlos of Spain fell short last March in seeking reconciliation with the Jewish community on the 500th anniversary of its expulsion from the country.
The king participated in a ceremony at a Madrid synagogue honoring the Jews, but failed to tear up the royal edict that expelled them in 1492, said del Coso.
By failing to cancel the decree, the king let slip a chance “to break the curse” that had so long hung over Spain.
Del Coso said he went to Israel for the first time in 1988 feeling “a little guilty” about his country’s treatment of the Jews. There he met people from the Christian Embassy who asked him to be their representative in Spain.
The Embassy was created in 1980 as a response to the Arab boycott and to the Israeli annexation of Jerusalem, which caused most national embassies to move to Tel Aviv. It brings thousands of non-Jewish supporters to Israel annually and has supported a number of philanthropic projects in Israel.