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    The Jews of Medieval Catalonia: Mysticism, Scholarship, and Culture


                                                 January 30-February 7, 2023

                         Led by Prof. Shalom Sabar and Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller

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Catalonia, and particularly Barcelona and Gerona, were the seat of scholarship in the fields of Kabbalah and Rabbinics.  Some of the greatest 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 very rich 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 fitted into the wider experiences of Iberian Jews, and analyze their encounters with the Church as it continued to increase in power in the Later Middle Ages and Early Modern Period.




Jan 30        Arrival to Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. Transfer to Gerona, an important       

Mon             Kabbalistic center with an impressive medieval center.

                     Orientation followed by dinner.                                                                           GERONA


Jan 31         Lecture: The Defining Characteristics of Catalonian Jewry, K. Aron-Beller

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

                    Myth and History, 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.  Visit the

                     archive to see the Hebrew manuscripts discovered in the bindings of ancient registers.

                     Afternoon session in the Nachmanides Center.                                                 GERONA    


Feb 1            Lecture: Rabbis, Mystics, and Jewish Women, K. Aron-Beller

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

                     Christianity, S.Sabar

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

                     and the Jewish Quarter.  The medieval miqve which was discovered some years ago is

                     one of the best preserved in Europe. View the village across the 11 century Pont Fortificat

                     (fortified bridge), with its two tower-gates.

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

                     Teatre-Museu Dalí.

                     Continue to Castellón de Ampurias where we visit the Jewish Quarter.           GERONA


Feb 2            Lecture: The Barcelona Disputation of 1263, K. Aron-Beller

Thu              Lecture: Haggadah Illustration in 14th C. Catalonia: Aspects of Biblical, Religious

                     and Daily Life vis-a-vis the Dominant Christian Culture, S. Sabar

                     Depart for Barcelona, a city with a very distinct character and turbulent history, filled

                     with wonderful art and spectacular architecture.  City sightseeing by bus.                                                         Visit the Picasso Museum, to view Spain’s best collection of the work of its major

                     modern artist.                                                                                                   BARCELONA             


Feb 3            Visit the Archivo de la Corona de Aragon. This is one of the richest medieval archives

Fri                 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 Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.                                                                                                       Shabbat services followed by Shabbat dinner.                                           BARCELONA                 

Feb 4             Shabbat services in the synagogue followed by Shabbat lunch.

Sat                 Afternoon walking tour of Barcelona.  View 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             


Feb 5             Lecture: Anti-Judaism and the 1391 Massacres, K. Aron-Beller

Sun                Lecture: The Ketubah in Medieval Spain and its Continuation in the “Sephardi 

                       Diaspora”, 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       


Feb 6             Lecture: Expulsion, the Spanish Inquisition in Catalonia and Secret Jews, K. Aron-Beller

Mon               Lecture: Between Persecution and Efflorescence: The Last Phase of Jewish Art

                      and Culture in 15th Century Iberia, S. Sabar

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

                      offers a unique opportunity to visit the underground Roman city.

                      In the afternoon visit the Ethnology Museum of Barcelona.

                      Farewell dinner.                                                                                                   BARCELONA


Feb 7            Transfer to the airport for departure.


                                                        PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE



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 and Tel Aviv University

Price for land arrangements only:  Euro 2895 per person in a double room

          ***EARLY REGISTRATION UNTIL SEP 13, 2022: Euro 2845 per person in a double room***    


Single supplement (Double room for Single Occupancy): ­­­­Euro 525

              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 Girona or at the

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


Deposit:  Euro 850 with registration, of which 350 is non-refundable.

     Remainder of payment is to be paid by November 22, 2022.   Please register promptly as our trips

     fill quickly.                                                         


Cancellation fees:                                                  

                    Nov 15, -Dec 10, 2022.……..........................30%

                   Dec 11, 2022-Jan 11, 2023…...…….……….50%

                   Jan 12, 2023 -Departure.…..…….......…..…100%                


Trip includes:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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

  •   JHS Tour escort                                                                                                                                      

  •   Local English speaking tour guide                          

  •   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 (which also covers Covid)                                                        

  • 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.


Each participant needs to be vaccinated against COVID.


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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