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Spanish City of Granada Founds Museum to ‘Lost’ Sephardic Jews

The city of Granada in southern Spain has announced the opening of a museum dedicated to the culture of Sephardic Jews who used to live there before the Inquisition.

The museum, which is called “The Palace of the Forgotten,” is housed inside the Santa Ines palace located in Albaicin — a neighborhood in the city’s old center where many Jews used to live before 1492, when they were forced to convert to Christianity or flee.

Historians’ estimates of the size of the Jewish population of Andalucia, the region where Grenada is located, ranged from 5,000 to 20,000, according to the late historian Haim Beinart of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Today, only a handful of Jews live in Andalucia.

The museum contains Judaica artifacts, archeological findings such as ceramic utensils, furniture, artworks and other valuables recovered from Jewish homes. The artifacts were donated to the museum by the Crespo Lopez family, according to a report Dec. 19 by the news site Grenadaimedia.com.

The museum will feature the restoration of a mikvah ritual bath from before the 15th century, which is among the few well-preserved mikvahs from that period ever excavated in Spain, according to a statement by the municipality.

In recent years, Spanish and Portuguese municipalities have invested millions of dollars in preserving their Sephardic heritage. This includes the inauguration and elaboration of a network of Jewish sites, financing for Jewish study centers and the opening of several museums.

Tourism bosses have described these efforts as having the potential to draw visitors from Israel and North America, while politicians and activists often describe these actions as owing to an emotional attachment and moral debt.

Earlier this month, Spain’s ruling party submitted a bill which would make Jewish descendants of Sephardic Jews who were forced into exile eligible for Spanish citizenship.

Portugal’s parliament unanimously passed a similar law in April.

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