The Synagogal Anniversary

Synagogues did not exist in Mallorca between 1435 and 1987. The island’s Jewish community had been banished and eradicated twice, first in 1391 and then in 1544, had been massacred, persecuted, chased away, burned at the stake, killed, executed, exiled, expelled or forcibly converted.

In 1987, the first Mallorcan synagogue for 550 years was consecrated. Last week, the Jewish Community in Mallorca celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of the synagogue in Palma. The ceremony was attended by various local authorities as well as the President of the Balearic Parliament, Pere Rotger.

Yehei shmëh rabba mevarakh lealam ulalmey almaya (May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity).

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 2nd, 2012. The time was 11:25:16. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of and the photographer, Guillem Bosch.

Muchas gracias.

The Synagogal Anniversary

Feeding the Starved

Pa de Sant Antoni

This may not be the image that the Mallorca Tourist Board would want to see highlighted, but there you go.

Ever since unemployment rose to unprecedented levels here in Mallorca, almost four years ago, more and more families and single mothers with children find it increasingly difficult to feed themselves. In a sometimes really difficult situation hundreds of destitute people depend on the help of charitable organisations on the island, such as the Catholic Church, the Lions Club, banks such as Sa Nostra Solidaria and Caixa de Colonya, the Salvation Army or ONGs such as Comedor Zaqueo and Projecte Home Balears.

Every weekday morning, the Frailes Caputxins in the Convent dels Caputxins (Capuchin monastery) just off Plaça d’Espanya hand out a sandwich to up to 400 hungry and impoverished souls. The convent has a door in Carrer Bastió d’en Sanoguera where a bocadillo and a piece of Ensaïmada is handed out for free without any questions asked bar your name. In addition, every Monday afternoon, you can see dozens of shopping trolleys parked outside the Puerta de Pa de Sant Antoni, ready to carry home warm food which is offered for about 300 families (see photo top). On Saturdays, warm food is offered to more than one hundred old age pensioners.

The Comedor Zaqueo in Plaça Mercadal is offering breakfast to some 150 homeless, and evening meals to 300 hungry souls (see photo bottom). Demand for food and shelter is on the increase; the Associación Zaqueo is also offering a bed to over 5,000 homeless residents every year.

Mallorca is not just all sun and sea and chill-out parties. Some find the going quite tough. Perhaps you can spare a thought.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 27th, 2012. The time was 10:37:15. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of and Zaqueo.

Muchas gracias.

Feeding the Starved

The European Day of Jewish Culture 2012

Next Sunday, September 2nd, the European Day of Jewish Culture 2012 will be celebrated in Europe, in Spain as well as here in Mallorca. This year’s event will be under the theme of The Spirit of Jewish Humour. According to the German poet Heinrich Heine, German humour is as heavy as German beer, English humour is misty like whiskey, French humour is light, fizzy and shiny like Champagne, whereas the Scots are deprived of any sense of humour (quoted from the jewisheritage website). Heine was born into a Jewish family, but later converted to Christianity in 1825, age 28.

In case you want to learn something, a Shofar (photo top) is a traditional Jewish blowing horn made of a mature ram’s horn, used as an instrument for religious purposes. And the photo (bottom) shows USA Rabbi Joseph Wallis, centre, at the site of a former synagogue in Palma in 2011 which had been replaced by a Roman Catholic church during the 16th century.

A concert will be given by Ana Alcaide at Castell de Bellver on September 1st, 21h00, as part of the European Day of Jewish Culture. The synagogue in Palma will hold a day of Open Doors on September 2nd, 10h00 to 14h00. There will be guided tours through Palma’s Jewish Quarters on the same day at 10h00 (Catalán and English), 11h45 (German and Spanish), 17h00 (Catalán and German) and 18h45 (Catalán and Spanish), starting from Plaza de Cort. A documentary about the fate of the Chuetas will be screened at Teatro Xesc Forteza, at 20h30.

There will also be a Ciclo de Cine Judío. The following movies will be shown at the Teatro Municipal Catalina Valls in Palma (Passeig Mallorca), quite possibly in a Spanish dubbed version:

04/09/2012: El mundo según Barney/Barbey’s Version (Richard J. Lewis, Canada/Italy 2010).
13/09/2012: Judíos en el espacio/Jews in Space, or Why Is this Night Different from All Other Nights? (Gabriel Lichtmann, Argentina 2005).
18/09/2012: Te quiero, Alice B. Toklas/I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (Hy Averback, USA 1968).
27/09/2012: El Rabino y el Pistolero/The Frisco Kid (Robert Aldrich, USA 1979).

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 7th, 2008. The time was 13:08:55. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of and the International Herald Tribune. Many thanks also to the photographer, Marta Ramoneda.

Thank you very much.

The European Day of Jewish Culture 2012

Slumbering Beauties

I have occasionally been asked about, or sometimes even been criticized for, my intermittent reporting on matters of the Catholic church. There were suggestions that my blog entries on monasteries in Mallorca, on churches, chapels and the Cathedral, or on festivities related to saints and saints’ days amount to promoting the Catholic religion or something to that extent. I keep explaining that an exhaustive blog on the subject of Mallorca would be flawed if it did not include references to matters of church traditions in a country as deeply entrenched in the Catholic religion as Spain was and still is. No, I am not a Catholic, I never was and I never will be. If I did a blog on Japan, I would certainly have to include topics of Shintoism or Buddhism quite frequently, don’t you think?

Every time, I point out that I continuously aim to give equal attention to other religions such as Islam, Sufism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Mormonism or Jehovanism. After all, there has been a time in Mallorca when Catholicism, Islam and Judaism coexisted in perfect harmony for a few hundred years, or so it is sometimes claimed.

Okay, I have never reported on Scientology and I am not sure that I will ever consider it relevant.

Allow me to talk about the Virgin Mary once more, on occasion of the recent Festivitat de l’Assumpció de La Mare de Déu (Ascent of Virgin Mary). The celebration is also called Dormició de Maria (Dormition of Virgin Mary).

I have visited a number of church exhibitions of the Slumbering Beauties over the last number of years and this year, was all intent on filling in the gaps that I might have missed in the past. Easier said than done. When I was in Palma last Friday, I approached six churches plus the Cathedral but, I found myself locked out in all of them but two. Saturday and Sunday, the same happened in the pueblos. Of seven churches, only three were open for visits at the time of my arrival. For your perusal, I am offering you reclining Mare de Déu Dormida examples taken in – from top to bottom – La Seu (Cathedral) and Sant Miquel in Palma, and Campos, Felanitx, Santanyí and Porreres in the Part Forana (the hinterland). I was told that the most beautiful Virgin Mary statue was laid out in the parish church of s’Arracó (Església de Sant Crist), but I did not get there before time and the display there is now no longer on view, until next year.

This year, some installations will be on display until August 22nd. The parish church in Santanyí will show its sleeping beauty (above) until August 21st, the parish church in Muro, until August 23rd, and the church in Alaró, until August 25th. In Palma, the exhibition at the Església de Sant Francesc comes to a close on August 22nd, as will the one at La Seu de Mallorca. An exhibition Mostra de la Mare de Déu d’Agost will be open at the Monestir de la Puríssima Concepció until August 23rd. A Funeral Procession of the Ascending Virgin will be held on August 22nd at 19h00 at the Església del Monestir de la Concepció.

The photos were taken, from top to bottom, in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 17th, 2012. The time was 15:28:09 and 13:34:54, Campos, August 18th, 2012, at 11:05:14, Felanitx, August 15th, 2012, at 11:56:02, Santanyí, August 18th, 2012, at 12:09:45, and Porreres, August 19th, 2012, at 20:28:38.

Slumbering Beauties

Fra Juníper Serra, the Mallorcan Missionary

Fra Juníper Serra was born in the village of Petra on November 24th, 1713. Padre Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25th, 1988.

Mallorca is currently busy preparing commemorative acts for his tricentennial birthday, next year. Padre Serra left his natal Mallorca age 36 as a Franciscan missionary for the “New Spain” in Mexico and never returned to his native island. In the Americas, he founded missions in Alta California such as San Diego de Alcalá, San Gabriel Arcángel, San Francisco de Asís, and San Juan Capistrano, which eventually would become the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

Amongst a number of projects, a cinema film is presently in a phase of preproduction, launched by the Mallorca Film Commission, in collaboration with the Cluster Audiovisual de Baleares and the Mallorcan IB3 television channel, aiming to portray on-screen the life and vocation of the Mallorcan missionary. Let’s hope they can raise the finance. Michael Douglas once said, years ago, that he would be interested in bringing Juníper Serra’s biography to the screen.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 7th, 2012. The time was 15:11:01. The photo (bottom) was added as a postscript. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 22nd, 2012. The time was 12:40:00.

Fra Juníper Serra, the Mallorcan Missionary

Monthly Lunchtime Organ Concerts in Palma’s Cathedral

One of the finest organs in Mallorca can be found in Palma’s Cathedral. Sadly, there are not many opportunities to hear the sound of this instrument. For the last ten or twelve years, a Festival Internacional de Órgano en la Catedral de Mallorca was celebrated during the four Sundays in October. There is a possibility that this Festival may have to be suspended this year. La Crisis.

Tomorrow, however, there will be a chance to listen to the Gothic organ at the occasion of a series of lunchtime concerts performed by Bartomeu Veny Vidal, the Cathedral’s organist. These half-hour concerts will be given every first Tuesday of the month at 12h00, with the exception of December and January. The concerts will be given for free, but there is an admission charge to the Cathedral of 4 €, unless you are a resident with proper documents in which case admission is granted free of charge.

The organ in Palma’s Cathedral was built in 1477, rebuilt in 1795 and restored in 1993; in 2006 it was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural (Cultural Heritage).

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 12:29:48 and 11:04:23, respectively.

Monthly Lunchtime Organ Concerts in Palma’s Cathedral

Twelve Olives at the End of Sant Jaume

The Festes de Sant Jaume are celebrated every year on July 25th. Sant Jaume is the same as San Jaime in Spain and Santiago or Santo Xacobeo in Galícia. In Mallorca, the saint is acclaimed in pueblos such as Alcúdia, Algaïda, Binissalem, Calvià, Portocolom, Santanyí and Sa Pobla. In most of these places, festivities start a week or so before the saint’s day and they might conclude a few days after.

Last night, the town of Santanyí celebrated the end of its Festes de Sant Jaume with an act called Tic-Tac which was dedicated to the young population of the municipality, starting at 23h00. At the stroke of midnight, Sant Jaume‘s celebrations were concluded with everybody present eating 12 olives to the strokes of the church bells.

The custom dates back a few hundred years when everyone in Mallorca ate 12 olives at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Olives were a staple food here on the island, as they still are to this day. The customary 12 grapes at midnight had not cottoned on here as it had in mainland Spain or as it has now.

To my knowledge no other pueblo in Mallorca upholds the old tradition of eating 12 olives, neither at the occasion of New Year’s Eve nor at Sant Jaume‘s. Should you happen to know better, please let me know.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 28th, 2012. The time was 18:33:28.

Twelve Olives at the End of Sant Jaume