How does a sepharadic synagogue look like? - Private walking tours in Toledo focused on jewish heritage -

The most important building in Sephardic architecture is the synagogue. The synagogue had become very important in Jewish life, after the destruction of the Beth HaMikdash in Jerusalem, as a meeting point of jewish worshippers.

During our Jewish Toledo Tour, you will notice that the two synagogues are the most important stops of our guided visit.

In the end of 14th century, the Christians attacked all Sephardic communities and destroyed almost all the synagogues, as well as the rest of Jewish life of Spain. Before their destruction, their had been hundreds of synagogues in Spain, but today only eighty remain. Of these, only three exist without major changes. There are two in Toledo, María la Blanca and La Sinagoga del Tránsito , and one in Cordoba. All of the synagogues these survived to the present day were were used for different purposes or converted into churches.

In María La blanca synagogue of Toledo, there the strange ring on the wall which is not compatible at all with the original architecture of the building and it is said that it was used by the soldiers of Napoleon to tie their horses.

When they were in use as synagogues, many of the buildings were ornamented with inscriptions in two or three different languages. The constitution of these synagogues, with a great hall, oriented towards Jerusalem and an arc, containing the Torah scrolls, is visible in contemporary synagogues of today.

Generally a common Sephardic synagogue can be described as fallows:

There is a grand hall, whose wall is positioned towards Jerusalem; an arc holds the Torah. In front of the Arc is an elevated reading desk, for reading the religious texts, which in the Sephardic tradition was usually in the center of the hall. Seats for the worshippers surround the reading desk and there is an oil lamp lit, at all times, somewhere. The women have a another, reserved space to worship, generally on an upper floor and covered by a latticework.

During our Jewish Toledo Tour you will be amazed by the fascinating wall of the Synagoga del Tránsito.

The Synagogue of Mary the White in Toledo also, is an autentical exemple of a sepharadic synagogue:

Even though it took almost century to be built, it was inaugurated in 1,180; and it is a beautiful example of Toledan mudejar style architecture.

It has five wings separated by twenty eight horse-shoe arches that fortify brick columns covered with cement and painted with limestone. The handcrftship was done of European larch, the altars are plateresc, the gates are mudejar, and the boards are of Berruguete's school.

The destruction and conversion of Sephardic synagogues symbolizes the end of Jewish welfare in Spain. Jewish life became insecure after 1391, and after the expulsion of 1492, all of their properties were confiscated either by the monarchy or the church.

To schedule a nevertobeforgotten private walking tour in Jewish Toledo with a shomer mitzvot jewish guide please send us a message via our contact form.

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Flamenco’s Deep Jewish Roots - Jewish Toledo Tour -

In this article I wanted to talk about the possible Jewish roots of spanish flamenco music. Olééé!

“Although not everybody finds Jewish overtones in the rhythmic dancing, the moaning style of songs, and the lush, sophisticated guitar playing,” esteem many music experts, “many believe that flamenco is closely connected to Sephardic schul music with its eastern influences and hidden tendancy of melancoly….

Let us take you in the intact streets of fascinating Jewish Toledo where you will still hear the whispering of the ancient jewish's not the jewish guide who sings, we promise hahaha::))

The word ‘flamenco’ supposedly derives from the Spanish word for Flemish. For what reason? One opinion is that the word came from the religious songs of those Jews who escaped the Inquisition by moving to the northern European land of Flanders.”

Flamenco in Spanish has two meanings, “Flemish” and “flamingo.” Most likely these are related. The Spanish had close contact with the Flemings, because Flanders, the Dutch-speaking area of what today is Belgium, was occupied by Spanish for nearly three hundred years until the French Revolution. Even earlier than that, however, flamenco in Spanish had taken on the sense of red-ckeeked or pale-skinned, the Flemings, like other northic nations, being lighter-complexioned than the generally darker southern nations like Spaniards. And because a reddish pink is the color of the flamingo’s under-wings, which appear for a short instant fabulously when the bird takes off and flies, it came to be called flamenco too.

Actually, as music experts have observed, flamenco is not so much related to Sephardic synagogue music as it is to Ashkenazi synagogue music, and specifically, to the chazanut or high cantorial style of Eastern Europe, whose technic can sometimes remind flamenco singing.

Does anybody know a chazzan to compose a songful melody for our Jewish Toledo Tour web page::))??

Not that close parallels to flamenco can’t be found in Sephardic music, too. There are Sephardic songs or romançeros, such as the well-known one called “La Petenera,” with its line “Dónde vas bella judía?” (“Where are you going beautiful jewish girl?”), that have cante jondo constituents. The fact that such a song was taken with them in their wanderings by Jewish exiles from Spain in 1492 indicates that it belongs to the earliest period of flamenco singing, whose known history does not go back much further.

Whether or not, as some experts have discussed, they go all the way back to the singing of the Levites in the Beth Ha Mikdash, or simply share a single eastern Mediterranean source with Arabic music, whose influence on flamenco was enormous too.

Please contact us to learn more about our private walking Jewish Toledo Tours with shomer mitzvot jewish guide. thanks you for reading us.

Do you know any important Rabbi lived in Toledo (Spain)? - Jewish Toledo Tour -

Recently, during my private jewish walking tour in Toledo, a customer of mine asked me information about some important rabbis who lived in Toledo, Spain. This article aims to share the information about only three of them in order to maintain their valuable memory.

Rabbi Yosef Karo was born in Toledo, Spain in the year 1488. In the year 1492, when he was only 4 years old he was forced to escape from Spain with his family and many other thousands of Jews. These people had lived for many hundreds of years leaving behind very strong jewish influence especially in Toledo.

After wandering from one city to another, Rabbi Yosef finally settled in Istanbul, Turkey.
I am sure the first think that he did was asking for a Jewish Tour guide:)

Already as a young man, he gained a reputation as a talented Torah scholar. He began by writing an explanation on the Rambam's Mishnah Torah. Later on, he wandered from city to city never finding proper peace of mind, in 1353 he began his travel to Israel. Besides being a authority of halachah, he was also well versed in the secrets of Cabbalah.

Rabbi Yosef Karo put much importance on the study of Mishnah which was constantly on his lips.
While he wrote many more seforim, none of them received the fame of the Shulchan Aruch.
Rabbi Yosef Karo passed away on the 13th day of Nissan in the year 1575 at the age of 87 and lies buried in the Tzfas cemetery amongst the many other great tzadikim.

Every step of our Jewish Toledo Tour along the cobblestone pavements of the city will impact you the same way it impacted the infancy of this great sage of the history.

Asher ben Jehiel- Ashkenazi or by the Hebrew acronym for this title, the ROSH
The Rosh was born in west of Germany and passed away in Toledo, Spain. His father Yechiel was a Talmudist, and one of his forfathers was Rabbi Eliezer ben Nathan (the RaABaN). Asher had eight sons, the most prominent of whom were Judah and Jacob, author of the Arba'ah Turim, a code of Jewish law. His primary teacher was the Tosafist Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, then in Worms. In addition to his studies, ROSH worked in economic issues, and according to his own statement, was independently wealthy.

After leaving Germany, he first settled in south of France, and then in Toledo, Spain, where he became rabbi. The idea who guided him to Toledo was perhaps our Jewish Toledo Tour....who knows??::))

Rabbenu Asher’s best known work is his abstract of Talmudic law. This work empahsises the final, practical halacha, not talking a lot about the the intermediate discussion and briefly formulating the final decision.

Judah Halevi, known as the "Sweet Singer of Zion" was a poet and philosopher who lived from 1075 until 1141. He was born in Jewish Toledo, Spain, lived much of his life in Cordoba, Spain, but passed away in Egypt, trying to reach the Israel. His principal occupation during his life was as a physician to the king of Spain. In his leisures he wrote magnificent poems, many of which were paeans to the Land of Israel and mourning the loss of the Land to Jews. If it was possible I would ask him to write a beatiful tag line for our Jewish Toledo Tour

...or an ode about his tour guide::))

In Halevi's day, Jews were caught in the ceaseless conflicts between Christians and Muslims for control of the Iberian Peninsula. Halevi became convinced that the safest and most appropriate place for Jews to live was in the Land of Israel where they could lead a full and meaningful Jewish life. Because of family attachments, he himself had to remain in Spain most of his life.
His poems praising the virtues of the Land of Israel remain a beautiful legacy, and in particular "Ode to Zion" is singed in many shuls on Tisha B'Av, to mourn the destructions of the First and Second Bet Hamikdash, on each summer. The poem speaks both of the poet's anguish over Yerushalayim's destruction and his hope for its resurrected future. The popular Israeli song "Yerushalayim shel Zahav" (Jerusalem of Gold), reminds us Halevi's poem by using the refrain "Halo le'chol shir-a-yich ani kinor" (I am a harp for your songs).

For more information about our tailored Jewish Toledo Tours, please get in touch with us!
Thank you for reading. wishes you a nice day!

Do You Know a Jewish Tour Guide in Toledo who arranges private walking tours?

Something funny happend to me last week and I want to share it with you. I was in vaccation in New York, and like any good frum guy, you must know the local synagogue wherever you are. So I went to pray to one synagogue in New York.

I meet there very cool people and started chating with them. When they knew that I was from Spain they suddenly became very interested in me. I wondered "why in the world would a newyorker be interested in a spanish person?".

As the conversation developed I knew that the person interested in me, has a travel to Israel scheduled next month, and he was doing a stop in Madrid for 24 hours. He was looking for something to do in Madrid, but cannot find some jewish guide.

I started to laugh because in fact I am THE jewish tour guide in Madrid/Toledo area. He was looking for some piece of information that will take him to the guide, but Hashem has put the guide himself in front of him... And he was frum! G-d loves this guy certainly! ha ha ha!
I told him who I am, and he started to tell me more details of his stop in Madrid, and we chat about visiting Toledo to know the old jewish quarter in the old city, and the Toledo Synagogues that are there today.

I spoke for an hour about the beauty of Toledo, in particular the Jewish Toledo, the old city sourrounded by the wall, the streets of the citadel that looks very similar (leabdil) to the streets of Old Jerusalem.

This funny story I am sharing with you let me think about the problem that american jews can't find the appropiate information about tours in toledo, so I started to set up this website in order to ease all american jewery that want to visit jewish Toledo from a jewish perspective with a Kosher Guide.

So, If you are reading this story and looking for Jewish Kosher Tour Guide in Toledo or Madrid, don't hesitate to read more about my work and service here in this site, and you can ask me wathever you need to know about this things, in this contact form.

I hope you enjoy this funny story that end up with this fellow jew schedulling a tour with me in both Madrid and Toledo next month.

Why in Spain all the restaurant and bars a hanged pig leg? -Jewish Tour guide in Madrid and Toledo-

Almost all my customers when they come to my Jewish Madrid Tour ask me the same question. This essay aims to clarify an unknown tradition of Spain and reveal its origins.

If you don't see with your eyes it's hard to believe the level of love of the spanish people towards pig meat. The manufacturing of pig meat is a huge industry in Spain. And to take advantage of every part they also manufacture some food additives with the rest of the animals. These additive are used communly in every fast consuming daily products.

Most all the bars in Madrid (and Spain) have a pigs leg hanging in them as if on display. This goes back to the Spanish Inquisition when all the Jews and Muslims where kicked out of the country. Having a pig’s leg displayed in your shop showed that you were not Jewish nor Muslim. Apparently, it has just stuck around all these years.

Suspended by a hoof on a hook, the pig legs hung down over the bar and tables. No one gets dirty by juicy pig fat drippings because each leg has a snowcone like object which avoids this kind of little annoying problems. We are in Madrid and jews don't like pork!

Let's analyse when and where everthing started...

Food was also one of the primary ways that Jews were pinpointed as dissenter heretics by cristian church authorities in Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. Cleaning meat by getting rid of the blood in water, eating meat during Catholic Lent, baking unleavened bread, and eating bitter herbs in the Spring (in honor of Passover), became the basis by which Jews could be distinguished by neighbors and jealous rivals. The consequences of being identified as an unrepentant Jew in one’s home, and in one’s heart, included expulsion (often to North Africa), or being burned alive at the stake.

Even today, in some crypto jew house (even in Madrid or Toledo) you can observe some "weird" traditions beeing practised almost unconsciously. These traditions have its origin back in those difficult days where jews suffered under an unmerciful authority. Jewish people strugelled to maintain their customs and even those who were less successful to conserve their identity, managed to transfer something to the next generations.

As I arrange special walking tour in Toledo from a jewish perspective, I always thought that this information is a very interesting detail to share with my customers and it makes my Jewish Toledo Tour more authentical compare to the other tours.

We travel to Spain and we would like to get some information about the kosher issue and a jewish tour guide for Toledo and Madrid?

The jewish comunity of Spain of today is not very big. I think there are less then 10 thousand jews in Spain and not all of them appears in the synagogues. Except the high holidays the shuls are almost empty. This situation reflects the low demand to the kosher products and services. If you stay close by to the main synagogue there are two little shops where you can find kosher products. As expected, the prices are much higher than the normal products of the streets. Most of these products comes from France where you have a much bigger comunity (half million of jews approximately in all over the country) and consequently kosher food production.

As for the shabat meals, in Madrid the jewish comunity arranges a dinner for foreign students who live in Madrid far away from there family. But this dinner is open for the tourist who dropps by Madrid for any reason. To participate this dinner you have to reserve place and pay for it in advance (before thursday) as the cathering company needs to know for how many people they need to cook.

Here you have some useful information for your kosher visit in Madrid (Spain):

Here is a list of hotels & hostels that are in walking distance to the main shule:

> HOTEL TRYP ALONDRAS [34]91-447-4000 ***3
> HOTEL BEST WESTERN TRAFALGAR [34]91-445-6200 ***3
> HOTEL MIGUEL ANGEL 91-442-0022 *****5
> HOTEL HESPERIA 91-210-8800 *****5
> HOTEL INTERCONTINENTAL 91-310-0200 *****5
> HOTEL CONDE DUQUE 91-447-7000 ****4
> HOTEL BRETON [NH GROUP] 91-442-8300 ***3
> HOTEL GRAN VERSALLES 91-447-5700 ****4
> APARTHOTEL TRIBUNAL 91-522-1455 ***3
> HOSTAL SIL & SERRANO 91-593-0993 FUENCARRAL, 95 /2-D
> HOSTEL NURIA 91-531-9208 / 91-532-9008 FUENCARRAL, 52
> TEL. 91-446-7847
> TEL. 91-445-5296
> C. GDK
> Gourmet Deli Kosher
> Avd. San Luis, 76 (Galería 31 y 32)
> Tel:913 818 453
> Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde, 79
> TEL. 91-418-8800
> BH
> Parcial Kosher list - Spain

And of course, I, a jewish guy who arranges private walking tours to Toledo and show the old part of the city to my customers from a jewish perspective. If you come from United Staes and travel to Israel and looking for an entertaining program during your long stop before you take your transfer flight, we offer you a great walking tour in the old jewish quarter of Toledo.
You can contact us by sending a message via the contact form of our web page.

I hope this information is useful for you.

What happened to the jewish property in Spain after the expulsion of 1492, Is there any jewish guide in Toledo who can show us the city from a jewish perspective?

I'd read in many books that Toledo (Spain) had a very very important role in the sefardic jewish culture. Jews start to settle there after the destruction of the second temple and co existed with muslims and christians until they expelled all of them in 1492.

In this year, the catholic kings (Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand) issued an edict against the jews where they were accusing them for desgenerating their faith. This document is known as the "Alhamra Decree". Alhamra is the name of a palace in a southern city of Spain called Granada. Today, in Granada there is a royal palace with its huge garden with tha same name and it's one of the most important touristic stops of Spain.

You can see a picture of that document in the main page of this adress. All you need to do is observe the slide show which will give youa general idea about Toledo from a jewish perspective.

As the aim of this page is to facilitate to contact me for customers who want special tours focused on the jewish past of Toledo I thought it was important to put a presentation.
If you wanna see it larger you just double click on one of the pictures.

Any way....let's get back to the main question!

After the jews were expelled from Spain without any property or money, the city's economy started to getting worse as the cristians were not allowed to practice any comercial business at that time. It's known that the biggest part of the jewelery business was controled by the jews. Even today, the street which was the center of jewelery business in that days, still keeps his original name; "Calle del Plata" which would be translated to english as "Street of silver".
Just after the deadline mencioned in the expulsion decree, the king gave the control of the jewish cementaries to the control of "nice and sweet" spanish inquisition, in other words to the churh. The inquisitors remove all the jewish tombstones and used them for constructional purposes. Especialy to built the entry of the buildings with a big and well-shaped marble stone.
Today we can see two archived examples of these stones in Toledo. One it's in Calle del Plata which we mentioned before and the other one is the main entry of a building called Corral de Don Diego close to the main square of Zocodover.

During my Visit Jewish Toledo Tour I show my customers both of these two stones who witnessed one of the most darkest period of the european jewish history.

I think that it's very important not to forget the unbearable sufferings that our ancestory lived in the hand of cruel inquisition after a golden age who flourished all the spanish culture.

During this terrifying days, tens of thousands of refugees died while trying to reach safety. In some instances, Spanish ship captains charged Jewish passengers unmerciful amount of moneys, then abondoned them in the middle of the ocean. In the last days before the expulsion, rumors spread throughout Spain that the fleeing refugees had swallowed gold and diamonds, and many Jews were knifed to death by reaver bandids hoping to find precious items in their stomachs.

If you wanna feel the ambiance of these day and visit Toledo from a jewish perspective please don't hesitate to contact us.

Do you know any jewish tour guide in Toledo, Spain?

A friend of mine was traveling from United States to Israel with a transfer stop of 12 hours in Spain. He asked me if I knew where to find a jewish tour guide who could pick them up from the airport and show them the most symbolic parts of Toledo, maybe Madrid from a jewish perspective, in a very quick tour.

As I lived there more then one year, close to the old jewish quarter of Toledo (Spain), I'd already learn the important role of the sefardic jewish culture in the history of Spain. Thanks to readings and useful lectures of my local friends I learned every corner of Jewish Toledo with its corresponding story.

Basicly, jews started to settle in Toledo after the destruction of the second temple and co existed with muslims and christians until they expelled all of them in 1492.
My friend explained me that before he consulted me, he occurred to him the idea to consult the local chabad house of Madrid or Toledo. Apparently in Toledo there is no chabad house but in Madrid yes...there is one. After a quick research in the internet, my friend send to the rabbi lubavitch an e-mail. The chabad rabbi replied him right away by recomending a shomer mitzvot guy in Madrid whit the name of Shlomo. It was me again.....what a coincidence::))!!

So my first experience in this job was was with a good friend of mine. Then I realized that organizing Jewish Toledo Tours could be a good oportunity to meet with new yehudim from every corner of the world. From United States to South Africa ... from Canada to Australia. The need for a presentable jewish guide for especial jewish customers pushed me to create this web site in order to facilitate them to reach me easily.

Later on, slowly slowly baruch H'm I started to have more custmomer thanks to the references of my previous customers. When you listen that cute "adios!" with a strong american accent there is no word to describe your profesional satisfaction after a long day of working.

Sometimes people ask me how can enjoy the same thing when yo do it repeatedly. In theory it's a good question. I have a good answer for this good question:

Basicly, I don't do the same think. The secret is the angle from which you see the things. Every person is a different world. When you become a good friend of your customer in a short period of time by sharing and interchanging the details of your life by means of cultural commun points, every moment of this "Jewish Toledo Tour" become a new and interesting experience. Each customer teach me something else about his comunity, their traditions, their shuls, their food, their piont of view in some particular matters, etc. etc.....

For whom who wants to have a general idea it goes like this:

Our "Jewish Toledo Tour" starts as follows:

At the beginning of the day I pick them up from the airport or their hotel with my car. Then we head to Toledo. After a trip of almost one hour we arrive the destination. We park the car and make a tour of the old city of Toledo on foot. This Jewish Toledo tour takes aproximately 4-5 hours.

Then we go back to Madrid for the dinner in the kosher restaurant of the city.
If the customer wishes also to visit Madrid, optionally I could arrange a tour the next day or within the afternoon of the same day.

Here is my web page:

I hope this information about the tour will be useful for everybody.
Hope to see you soon:)