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