First Limmud in Mallorca:
“Engine to Grow the Jewish Community”
Mallorca, April 23, 2018: The first Limmud in Mallorca made a big splash, drawing 85 participants – in a community of 150-200 – and coverage in Ultima Hora, the leading daily in Palma, the capital of the island of Mallorca located in Spain, which has a Jewish history dating back centuries.
The day-long Limud Mallorca – as it is spelled in Spanish – offered 18 sessions in Spanish, Catalan and English, and included a track for children and teens.
“We see Limud Mallorca as an engine to grow the Jewish community,” said Limud Mallorca Co-Chair Dani Rotstein, a New Jersey native who moved to Mallorca in 2014 and produces TV commercials in his day job. “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. We also hope to create prayer spaces for each stream of Judaism.”
The Jews on Mallorca hail mostly from Argentina, France, Germany, Israel, the UK, the US, and Turkey. The local synagogue was established in the 1980s by British Jews. There is also a functioning Jewish cemetery.
In the 1300s, the Inquisition forced Mallorca’s Jews to convert. They had to live in Palma’s Jewish Ghetto as crypto Jews until the end of the 17th century. Their descendants became known as Chuetas, or Xuetes in Catalan. Roughly 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. Indeed, several sessions focused on Chueta history, culture and identity.
A six-person steering committee brought together a compelling program, with presenters from Barcelona, Madrid, Germany and Switzerland, along with people from the island. Among the more widely known to present were local novelist Miquel Segura, who publishes and teaches about Chueta history; renowned local chef Toni Piña, who travels the world speaking about kosher and Mallorcan cuisine and its roots in Jewish history; flamenco artist Leilah Broukhim, a prominent performer and expert on flamenco and its Sephardic influence; and, celebrity Swedish novelist Jens Lapidus, who has three bestsellers-turned-movies about the Swedish underworld, and spoke about contemporary Hasidic life.
“This was an amazing experience,” said Karen Kochmann, a Steering Committee member and part of the children’s programming team. “Seeing so many different people getting together and enjoying themselves was priceless, something worth being a part of.”
“Limmud is proud of our volunteers and partners in Mallorca for launching our newest Limmud community,” said Limmud Chief Executive Eli Ovits. “It is another milestone in Limmud’s growth in the Spanish-speaking world, with a special emphasis on Sephardic culture. We support their aspiration to expand Jewish culture in all its forms, taking wing from this exciting festival.”
Limud Mallorca is the newest Limmud community, one of 89 spanning 42 countries.