Spanish towns plan mock wedding at Sukkot Judaica festival

(JTA) — Two Spanish towns are preparing a two-day Judaica festival featuring a mock wedding to celebrate their lost Jewish heritage.

The Sept. 28-29 event, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, is being co-organized by non-Jews from San Juan and Rio Jerte in the province Extremadura in northwestern Spain. It also will include a Judaica market and songs, according to festival coordinator Antonio Gil.

“This is a local event for the local population so that people who live here know that part of our history,” Gil told JTA.

Gil added that the idea for the festival came last year from Maria Dolores Marin of San Juan and is not geared toward attracting tourists.

In planning the event, Gil and Marin consulted Avigail Cohen Komer, an Israeli Jew who owns a shop in the nearby village of Hervas, where a Jewish festival is held every year.

Northern Spain had a Jewish population of hundreds of thousands  before the Spanish Inquisition, which began in the late 15th century and drove countless Jews into exile. Others were forcefully converted to Christianity, though for decades many of the converted secretly practiced Judaism.

In recent years, municipalities across Portugal and Spain have been spending millions of dollars renovating Jewish heritage sites. Gil said the festival’s organizers will decorate some homes that used to belong to Jews.

The municipality of Zamora, some 130 miles north of the two towns, also announced its own Jewish project earlier this month in which it will post plaques near its places of Jewish historical interest, according to the daily La Opinion-El Correo de Zamora.

Zamora’s head of economic development, trade and tourism, Francisco Javier Gonzalez, told El Correo that the city has “a historic debt” to its Sephardic ancestors, who were forced to leave the Zamora and Castile and Leon.

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