Spanish city opening museum on its ‘forgotten’ Jews

(JTA) — The Spanish city of Granada will open a museum dedicated to the culture of Sephardic Jews who lived there before the Inquisition.

The Palace of the Forgotten, as the museum is called, is scheduled to open on Jan. 2. It is housed inside the Santa Ines palace located in Albaicin — a neighborhood in the southern city’s old center where many Jews used to live before 1492, when they were forced to convert to Christianity or flee.

The museum contains Judaica artifacts as well as archaeological findings such as ceramic utensils, furniture, artworks and other valuables recovered from Jewish homes. The artifacts were donated to the museum by the Crespo Lopez family, according to a report Dec. 19 by the news site Grenadaimedia.com.

The museum will feature the restoration of a mikvah ritual bath from before the 15th century, which is among the few well-preserved mikvahs from that period ever excavated in Spain, according to a statement by the municipality.

Estimates of the size of the Jewish population of Andalucia, the region where Granada is located, ranged from 5,000 to 20,000, according to the late historian Haim Beinart of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Today, only a handful of Jews live in Andalucia.

In recent years, Spanish and Portuguese municipalities have invested millions of dollars in preserving their Sephardic heritage.

Earlier this month, Spain’s ruling party submitted a bill that would make Jewish descendants of Sephardic Jews who were forced into exile eligible for Spanish citizenship. Portugal’s parliament unanimously passed a similar law in April.

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