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Their absence lasted for centuries, until a modest number began returning in the mid-19th century.
SOME 4,000 Jews who reside in Barcelona today are served by several synagogues, including Chabad, Comunidad Israelita de Barcelona (Orthodox) and Comunitat Jueva Atid de Catalunya (Reform).
In 1263, Barcelona was the site of a famous disputation presided over by King James I of Aragon.
Nachmanides, whose familial link to Barcelona, Catalonia’s largest city, traced back to his grandfather, Isaac ben Reuben, was called to defend Judaism against Pablo Christiani, an apostate, who had worked vigorously to force the Jews to convert to Christianity.
In 1263, following Nachmanides’ distinguished participation at the Barcelona disputation, King James I reputedly visited this synagogue.
Indeed, one of Barcelona’s – and the synagogue’s – longest-serving leaders was Rabbi Shlomo ben Adret (the Rashba), a former student of Nachmanides whom he succeeded as rabbinical authority over the Jews of Catalonia.
However, in the high middle ages, Montjuïc was the site of a Jewish cemetery, after which the mountain was named.
Recently discovered tombstones are now stored in the Provincial Archeological Museum.
Long before the tumultuous expulsion of the Jews in 1492, Jewish culture thrived throughout the Iberian Peninsula.
Montjuïc (Catalan for “mountain of the Jews”) remains a towering presence over the city.