MADRID (JTA) — The standard menu at Xerta, a Barcelona restaurant that acquired a coveted star from the Michelin Manual, reads like a haute-cuisine treyf banquet: non-kosher dishes this kind of as lobster, squid and oysters.
Nonetheless the restaurant has turn out to be a hotspot for Barcelona’s compact quantity of kosher-retaining Jews. Which is due to the fact with a very little progress see, Xerta will prepare food items in accordance to Jewish dietary legal guidelines in a independent kitchen area, below the supervision of a local Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi.
The cafe pursued kosher certification, which will make Xerta the only Michelin-starred kosher cafe in the globe, mainly to attract Barcelona’s increasing figures of Jewish visitors. But until finally just lately, no vacationers had come.
“At the moment, we can’t account for a [kosher] provide-need relationship, but we consider it is due to the fact of the problems introduced by the pandemic,” Irene Montagut, Xerta’s push officer, told the Jewish Telegraphic Company in May. “We’ll have to wait around and examine what occurs from now when tourism resumes and the country’s travel freedom increases.”
Now, a hectic summer months journey year is underway, with pent-up wanderlust main to packed planes and airport chaos. For Spain’s Jewish tourism market, the journey mayhem could not have come faster, as Xerta is considerably from alone in counting on Jewish people, and it is not the only establishment creating adjustments to woo them.
Barcelona is rolling out a red carpet for Jewish and Israeli site visitors, launching two strategies — “Shalom Barcelona” and “Barcelona Connects Israel” — to model the city as a location for Jews intrigued in checking out their heritage.
The strategies stick to a push to attract site visitors to Girona as perfectly, yet another Catalonian metropolis in northern Spain that is observed for possessing a single of the finest-preserved and most picturesque Jewish quarters in the Iberian Peninsula.
Alexandra Marcó, advertising and marketing director of Barcelona Turisme, said her team had noticed a 4% progress in tourism from Jewish travelers in 2019, just ahead of the pandemic floor world wide journey to a halt. Although the numbers ended up compact, the effects of those tourists was major, she stated.
“These are lifestyle-seeking, large-spending vacationers,” Marcó said. “Given the importance of the city’s Jewish heritage, it appeared a pity not to have a precise tourism offer for this industry, which is specially fond of this cultural heritage.”
To devise its campaigns, Barcelona’s metropolis council sent a delegation to Tel Aviv in March for Israel’s biggest tourism good. There they met with Talma Vacation, Israel’s premier vacation company, and the Issta Lively team, which has about 60 offices in the course of Israel, to promote what they are contacting a new Sephardic marketplace, a portfolio of tourism features highlighting Spanish Jewish tradition past and current.
The tourism campaigns come about at a time of reckoning in excess of the agonizing background of Jewish Spain, 1 that neighborhood leaders say has too typically been advised about Jews, rather than by them.
“In Spain, Jewish heritage has long been marketed as a tourism solution devoid of historical and educational rigor,” said Moises Hassan-Amselem, a lecturer at the Pablo de Olavide College and Jewish tour information who has been a longtime critic of “heritage” attempts in Spain. “Jewish communities have not even been approached to be portion of these tasks.”
That technique appears to be shifting, with both equally bigger Jewish involvement in shaping historic places for holidaymakers and additional emphasis landing on the modern day Jewish practical experience in Spain.
In a single distinguished case in point, site visitors who stop by Casa Adret, the oldest household in Barcelona, will do so on a road freshly renamed right after Salomó ben Adret, a 14th century Barcelonian Talmudic scholar. Till 2018, the road experienced been named in honor of the assault that killed hundreds of neighborhood Jews and resulted in the forcible conversion of countless numbers of other people such as Astruch Adret, the Jewish businessman who was compelled to provide the assets in 1391. The name modify in 2018 was the consequence of an extended campaign by the area Jewish neighborhood to flip the house into a Jewish cultural centre, with the intention of restoring agency around Spanish Jewish background to residing Jews in Spain.
“What historical heritage seeks right now is citizen participation that area communities choose possession and take part in conservation and restoration assignments,” explained Victor Sorenssen, director of the European Affiliation for the Preservation and Marketing of Jewish Society and Heritage, who was one particular of the leaders of the Casa Adret initiative.
“It should really not be up to tourism to lead it ought to be a cooperative venture from the commence,” Sorenssen added.
Customers of Barcelona’s Jewish neighborhood, estimated at about 20,000 folks, are optimistic about prospective buyers of the city’s new tourism efforts to raise Jewish lifestyle, lifestyle and meals for locals.
“As very long as they are performed with regard, all of these cultural jobs aimed at engaging and boosting consciousness of Jewish life in Barcelona are a good point,” stated Jacob Daniel Benzaquen, cultural director of the Israelite Group of Barcelona. “It’s significant to do this function for the reason that, in typical, the relevance that Judaism experienced and has in Barcelona and Catalonia is mainly unidentified, not only to the city’s populace but also to the group.”
Marcel Odina, director of Mozaika, a Jewish cultural centre housed at Casa Adret, states the local community is flourishing with new assignments and ordeals for readers and locals each and every year. He cited Sefér Barcelona, the Jewish literature festival, and Toldot, a foodstuff good that draws on numerous Jewish culinary traditions, as illustrations.
“We observe a good deal of vacationers, equally foreigners, and locals, who are astounded by the Jewish vibrancy of youthful persons lively in the community, performing on projects, and getting a thriving cultural lifestyle in Barcelona. This is also accurate amongst non-Jewish Barcelonians, who consider that Judaism and Jews are a medieval phenomenon an ancestral tribe that once existed,” he explained.
The kosher dining expertise at Xerta is possibly the most prominent case in point of present-day Jewish daily life to be on check out for the very first time to the throngs of travellers coming to Spain this summertime.
The restaurant, which obtained its kosher certification all through the pandemic, joins Barcelona’s a few kosher-licensed restaurants together with a handful of caterers and Chabad centers serving kosher foods. In contrast to individuals dining establishments, which serve conventional Jewish and Israeli food stuff, even so, Xerta delivers a menu that displays neighborhood Ebro River delicacies.
The restaurant has served up its specialties — which consist of dishes like artichoke cream with marinated fish — at community Jewish events over the very last two yrs. Now, its operators — and town officials — are hoping that visitors see it as putting Barcelona on the map as a flourishing Jewish spot, also.
“One component that has been commonly misrepresented in the vacationer narrative is the portrayal of cities like Barcelona or Girona as owning a abundant Jewish heritage, but just as past record,” Sorenssen claimed. “Barcelona’s Jewish neighborhood has been in this article for about a century, and this 20th-century heritage is equally fascinating and fascinating, and it really should be shared with the broader general public.”
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