On tiny Mallorca, Limmud learning festival aims to spark a Jewish revival


(JTA) — The Spanish island of Mallorca held its first Limmud program, a festival of Jewish learning.

Some 85 participants out of a Jewish community of up to 200 participated in the daylong Limud Mallorca, which offered 18 sessions on Jewish topics in Spanish, Catalan and English, including for children and teens.

“We see Limud Mallorca as an engine to grow the Jewish community,” Dani Rotstein, a Limud Mallorca co-chair, said in a statement that used the local spelling of the international network of learning festivals.

Rotstein is a New Jersey native who in 2014 moved to Mallorca, where he produces television commercials.

“For starters, inspired by Limud, we hope to launch a Jewish film series, Jewish cooking classes, book clubs, a hiking club and sharing Shabbat dinner in each others’ homes,” he said. “We also hope to create prayer spaces for each stream of Judaism.”

The Jews on Mallorca come from Argentina, France, Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States and Turkey. British Jews established the local synagogue in the 1980s. There is also a functioning Jewish cemetery on the island.

In the 1300s, the Inquisition forced Mallorca’s Jews to convert or live in Palma’s Jewish ghetto as crypto Jews until the end of the 17th century. Their descendants became known as Chuetas. Some 20,000 people with Chueta last names live on the island. Some have converted back to Judaism and are among the most active Jewish community members.

Presenters for Limud Mallorca came from Barcelona, Madrid, Germany and Switzerland, as well as locals. Limmud, which was founded in the United Kingdom in 1980 to provide Jewish learning opportunities to communities, has spread to 84 communities in 44 countries on six continents.

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