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                     Mysticism, Scholarship and Culture
                                      May 15-23, 2024
          led by Prof. Shalom Sabar and Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller

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Catalonia, notably Barcelona and Gerona, was the scholarship seat in Kabbalah and Rabbinics.  Some of the most outstanding scholars of the Middle Ages were Catalan: Nahmanides, R. Jonah Gerondi, the Rashba, R. Nisim Gerondi, the Ribash and R. Hasdai Crescas.  This short list indicates the centrality of Catalan Jewry in medieval Jewish culture.  The seminar examines the background, the direction, and the vibrant literary product of a Jewish culture that has since become an integral part of Judaism.

During our trip, we will walk through the narrow streets of the medieval Jewish quarters and visit sites where great scholars, as well as simple Jews, lived, studied, and prayed, leaving behind them a legacy of paramount importance. We will understand how Catalonian Jews fit into the wider experiences of Iberian Jews and analyze their encounters with the Church as it increased in power in the later Middle Ages and early modern period.




May 15       Arrival in Barcelona, a city with a very distinct character and turbulent history, filled

Wed           with wonderful art and spectacular architecture.  City sightseeing by bus.

                   Orientation is followed dinner in a vegetarian restaurant.                                    BARCELONA


May 16       Lecture: The Defining Characteristics of Catalan Jewry, K. Aron-Beller

Thu            Lecture:  The Beginnings of Jewish Presence in the Iberian Peninsula – Between

                   Myth and History, S.Sabar    

                   Visit the Museu d’Història de Barcelona located in the Gothic Quarter. The museum

                   offers a unique opportunity to visit the underground Roman city.

                   Tour the call of Barcelona, including different sites such as the sinagoga mayor,

                   other synagogues, the houses of some of the leading rabbis, including the house of

                   R. Shmuel HaSardi, a 13th century scholar. The call of Barcelona, very well 

                   preserved, has some 13th and 14th century buildings. It was here where some of the

                   greatest yeshivot produced some of the finest scholars.

                   Visit the Cathedral to view an exhibition of Barcelona’s Jewish past .                  BARCELONA                                                                                                                        


May 17       Visit the Archivo de la Corona de Aragon. This is one of the richest medieval  

Fri               archives and from the Jewish point of view, it is the most important archive after the

                   Vatican. There will be an exhibit of manuscripts and documents related to the

                   Jews of Catalonia.

                   Visit the Picasso Museum, to view Spain’s best collection of the work of its major

                   modern artist.                                                                                                    

                    Shabbat services followed by Shabbat dinner.                                                       BARCELONA                               

May 18        Shabbat services followed by Shabbat lunch.

Sat               Walking tour of some of the modernista architecture and especially the buildings by

                    Antoni Gaudí. 

                    View the Casa Batiló, one of Barcelona’s gems with its façade with bits of blue,

                    mauve and green tiles.  

                    Visit La Pedrera (once known as the Casa Milà) to see the roof with its giant

                     chimney pots looking like multicolored medieval knights.                                      BARCELONA                                                                                                                                       


May 19       Lecture: Rabbis, Mystics and Jewish Women in Medieval Catalonia, K. Aron-Beller

Sun             Lecture: Between Romans and Muslims: Jewish Art of Catalonia and its Environs

                   from circa 300 to 1000, S. Sabar

                   Depart for Tarragona to tour the Jewish Quarter. Visit the Museu d’Historià de

                   Tarragona which consists of the famous Roman archeological sites.

                   Continue to Santa Coloma de Queralt to visit the Jewish Quarter where 30-50 Jewish

                   families lived and whose story has been preserved in the medieval notarial registers

                   from the 13th and 14th centuries.                                                                                BARCELONA      


May 20:     Lecture: The Barcelona Disputation in 1263, K. Aron-Beller

Mon           Lecture: Hebrew Manuscript Illumination in Medieval Spain – Between Islam and

                   Christianity, S. Sabar

                   Visit the Familia Sagrada.

                   Travel to Gerona, an important Kabbalistic center with an impressive medieval center. 

                   Walking tour of Gerona and visit the Cathedral to see the 11th century tapestry of the

                   creation of the Old Testament.                                                                                          GERONA                              

 May 21:       Lecture: The Long Fourteenth Century, K. Aron-Beller

Tue              Lecture: Haggadah Illustration in 14th Cent. Catalonia: Aspects of Biblical, Religious and Daily Life                           vis-a-vis the Dominant Christian Culture, S. Sabar

                    Depart to the very picturesque medieval village of Besalú, where we visit the mikve and the

                    Jewish Quarter.  The medieval miqve discovered some years ago is one of the best preserved

                    in Europe. View the village across the 11th century Pont Fortificat (fortified bridge), with its

                    two tower-gates.

                    Depart to Figueras, the town where Salvador Dalí was born to visit the extraordinary

                    Teatre-Museu Dalí. Return to Gerona.                                                                             GERONA                                

May 22       Lecture: Expulsion, the Spanish Inquisition in Catalonia and Secret Jews, K. Aron-Beller

Wed            Lecture: Between Persecution and Efflorescence: The Last Phase of Jewish and Culture

                   in 15th Century Iberia, S. Sabar

                   Visit the Jewish Museum and the Nahmanides Center.

                   The Museum has some very important medieval tombstones from the local Jewish        

                   cemetery in Montjuic.

                   Visit the call (Jewish Quarter) of Gerona, one of the best preserved in the Iberian peninsula.      

                   It was there that the medieval Kabbalah in Catalonia emerged. 

                   Farewell vegetarian dinner.                                                                                                  GERONA                          

May 23       Early transfer to the Barcelona airport for departure                           


                                                                 PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE      


Lecturers: Prof. Shalom Sabar (Emeritus), Dept. of Folklore/Dept. of Art History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

                  Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller, Lecturer in Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem & Tel Aviv University


Price for land arrangements only:  Euro 3695 per person in a double room

          ***EARLY REGISTRATION UNTIL FEB 15, 2024: Euro 3645 per person in a double room***    


Single supplement (Double room for Single Occupancy): Euro 1070

                Price is based on minimum participants


Price for airfare from Israel (Tel Aviv- Barcelona-Tel Aviv)

                          USD 590 (Based on airfares in effect at time of publication and subject to change)


                          People joining us from abroad should meet us in the hotel in Barcelona or at the

                          Barcelona airport at the arrival of the El Al flight from Israel.


Deposit:  Euro 900 with registration (non-refundable).

     Remainder of payment is to be paid by March 1, 2024.   Please register promptly as our trips fill quickly.                                                         


Cancellation fees:                                                                    

      March 1- 31, 2024………….……65%

      April 1 -Departure.………...……100%    

      **One should purchase travel insurance which will cover cancellation fees prior to the tour’s departure           


 Trip includes:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

  •   Lectures by Prof. Shalom Sabar & Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller

  •   JHS Tour escort                                                                                                                                      

  •   Local English speaking tour guides                          

  •   8 nights accommodation in 4 star hotels with daily buffet breakfasts.

  •   Meals according to the itinerary                               

  •   Local transport by bus

  •   Entrance fees according to itinerary    


Not included in the price:                                     

  • Obligatory health and cancellation travel insurance

  • Tips Euro 90                                         


Program subject to change:  All rights are reserved by Jewish Historical Seminars to make staff substitutions

if necessary and/or make changes to the program and conditions as required by force majeure,

including cancellation of the trip at any time due to drastic changes in the situation.

Participants are reminded that weather conditions cannot be predicted and cancellations or changes to

visits may be unavoidable.


Further information:


Contact Debbie:   Tel: 972.2.534.5191, Cell: +972.54.2212503   Fax: 972.2.5700005


                              The trip is run in conjunction with Ayala Travel and Tours, Jerusalem

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