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Cemetery facelift ‘reparation’ for expulsion, Spanish Jewish leader says

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(JTA) — Two ancient Jewish cemeteries were rededicated in Spain, both paid for by the municipalities.

The ceremonies on Sunday, the European Day of Jewish Culture, were held at the Jewish cemeteries of Lucena in southern Spain, dated to the 10th century, and in Avila near Madrid, which was in use in the 12th century.

Isaac Querub, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, said in Avila that the rededication constituted some “reparation” for the expulsion of the Jews from Iberia in the late 15th century during the Spanish Inquisition.

“This is Avila assuming its identity as a city where Jews, Muslims and Christians lived – part of a reparation for an injustice of historical proportions,” the news site Avilared.com quoted Querub as saying at the ceremony.

The report did not say how much the municipality spent on rededicating the cemetery. Lucena spent $160,000 its rededication. Spanish officials were on hand for the rededications.

Meanwhile, Portugal announced Sept. 28 that it will allocate $816,000 toward creating tourist routes dedicated to its past Jewish population — its contribution to a $6.1 million project co-funded by several European states, according to Lusa, the Portuguese news agency.

The money will go to adding 25 routes to Portugal’s Rede de Judiarias, which was inaugurated two years ago – 16 years after the creation of a similar initiative in neighboring Spain.

Municipal bosses in Spain and Portugal have said they hoped to attract Jewish tourism against the effects of a blistering financial crisis. In parallel, both countries have seen non-commercial gestures aimed at honoring the memory of their former Jewish communities.

Earlier this year, Portugal passed a law aimed at granting citizenship to Jewish descendants of Jews that fled the country in the 16th century.

Portugal and Spain have fewer than 50,000 Jews combined, according to the European Jewish Congress.

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