Spanish city gathers descendants of Jews named after it


(JTA) – In a bid to reconnect with its Jewish history, the city of Marchena in southern Spain organized an international reunion for foreigners named after it.

The two-day gathering will begin Friday in the city of about 40,000 residents near Sevilla. Organizers assume that foreigners whose last names contain the city’s name are predominantly descendants of Sephardic Jews who left the area during the Spanish Inquisition to escape that campaign of religious persecution by the Church, the news site ABC reported Thursday.

A nonprofit called Sepharad-Legado Sefardí organized the event, “First Journeys for the Jewish and Sephardic Memory of Marchena,” along with the municipality. It was advertised on social media and in Spanish-language news sites.

Among those who accepted the invitation was Kenneth de Marchena, a Dutch Jew who was born in the Caribbean island of Curacao, ABC reported.

“How beautiful it is to be back in the city with our family name,” he wrote on Facebook about the trip. Kenneth de Marchena has spent years researching his ancestors’ life in the city, according to ABC.

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