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!