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When Spain Paid Homage to Maimonides ...
The Words and the Music

- Abstract

When the riots broke out in Morocco two years ago, I thought of my Jewish friends from Marrakesh and Safi, and wondered how they had fared. Of course these were anti-French riots, but Jews often get roped into these things for good measure; and sure enough I read that large numbers of Jews had been singled out for attack, and killed or wounded, all over Morocco.

It was just twenty years since I had met them, at a strange Spanish-Jewish celebration in Cordova. It was 1935, and I had gone to Spain in search of history. The government of Spain—the Republican government—was putting on a fiesta for the Jews in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the birth at Cordova of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides. How can one explain what a celebration of this kind meant to a young Jew conscious of history? Spain, to a Jew, was the land of the Golden Age—and the land of the Inquisition. Had the moment now come when all these ancient quarrels could be resolved? Was there something in the air of Spain—the new Spain—which would let us breathe easily now—there and everywhere?

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