The Foundation visited the medieval synagogue in Hijar in Aragon in Spain, which features in the Foundation’s highlighted Jewish heritage at risk projects.
Before the 1492 expulsion, Hijar had a thriving Jewish community and was a centre for Hebrew printing. The synagogue building has been used as a church since the expulsion and, being one of the smaller churches in the town, is now only used once a year.
The former Jewish quarter in which the building is situated is formally marked today, being a recognised aspect of the narrative of the town. Archaeological work has shown that the structure is essentially the original synagogue and, remarkably, wall murals have been uncovered showing Hebrew lettering and Jewish symbols.
This is the only synagogue in all of Spain to have such wall decorations making the site unique and of great importance.
Michael met with the Hijar Mayor Luis Marquesan, and Lucia Aguilar who has been the leading activist promoting the recovery of the site.
Their vision is to turn the synagogue into a Sephardi Heritage Centre presenting the Jewish life that was, while running educational programmes and cultural events for the town and wider region.