the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Last Supper

How do you say 'odd juxtaposition' in Spanish?

The plate in the above photo says "Pesach" (Passover) in Hebrew. Taken inside a Toledo store selling antiques and objets d'art, this is a sample of the odd juxtaposition of Christian and Jewish (and in many cases, Muslim and/or Middle Eastern) objects that I found throughout Spain.

I was surprised and kind of weirded out to see Jewish stars and menorahs in tourist shops all over the place. While it's true that Christian symbols are being marketed no less than Jewish and Muslim ones, the Christian ones at least have meaning to the people who live there. I found the ubiquity of the Jewish symbols to be startling because this was a country that kicked the Jews out and burned them at the stake, and to this day has little in the way of Jewish life - and yet, has no compunction about commercializing its Jewish past when it had once been so eager to obliterate its Jewish present.

It also seemed that in Spain, the Judaica was nothing but another cheesy tourist memento, like the flamenco-style aprons all over Andalusia shops and the mini knights scattered throughout Toledo. In Spain, the cross is the symbol of a religion that dominates the country; the Jewish star just looks sad and out of place in the Spanish stores, a marketable memory rather than a representation of the living glue that continues to hold a people intact.

Here's another example, also from Toledo:


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