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Community origins

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The Jewish Community of Madrid, since its foundation in 1917, is the main Jewish institution of the Autonomous Community of Madrid and one of the pillars of the development of Jewish life in contemporary Spain.

After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, a long historical hiatus opened during which the Jews could not live in Spain.

In the middle of the 19th century, the first Jewish families settled in Madrid, mostly from Western Europe.

With the outbreak of the First World War, many Jewish refugees temporarily settled in Madrid. Among them the prominent Zionist leader Max Nordau and Abraham S. Yahuda, then a Hebrew professor at the Central University of Madrid (today Complutense), who promoted the creation of the Community.

In 1917 the first synagogue in Madrid, Midrás Abarbanel, was inaugurated a few years before the Community was constituted as such and approved its first statutes (1920). In those same years the Community managed to define its own enclosure in the Civil Cemetery. The Community was consolidated around a small number of families that settled in the city in a stable way and, under the hand of its first president Ignacio Bauer, acquired a greater presence in the social and cultural life of the city.

Civil war

In 1938, as a result of the Civil War, the only synagogue in Madrid was closed. The ceremonial objects are transferred to the Provincial Museum of Murcia. The Civil War and the first years of the Franco dictatorship determined the temporary closure of the Community, and the cessation of all forms of public Jewish life in the city.

Starting in 1947, at the hands of some families established in the city for decades and some recently arrived Jews from various European countries, the Jewish Community was re-founded. In 1949 a new synagogue was inaugurated, the Lawenda Oratory. A decade later, the Community moved to a larger floor to house the new synagogue, Betzión on Pizarro Street, and other facilities. From the 50s, especially in the 60s, the Jewish population of Madrid began to grow, mainly due to the successive migratory waves of Jews from the old Spanish protectorate in Morocco and Tangier. At present, this continues to be the majority within the Community. The creation of the Council of Israelite Communities of Spain (1964), the inauguration of the Ibn Gabirol School (1965) and the construction of the communal center on Balmes Street that houses the Beth Yaacov synagogue (1968) are three outstanding milestones in the recent history of our community.

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As a consequence of the military coup in Argentina, a considerable number of Argentine Jews settled in Madrid as of 1976. The successive Argentine economic crises, especially the one that worsened in 2001, have attracted another important wave of immigration to our Community. In these years, numerous families from other Latin American countries, Israel and Europe have also settled more or less permanently.

With the end of the dictatorship and the promulgation of the 1978 Constitution, the longest period in the history of Spain of full religious freedom and equality for all citizens began. All this, together with the consolidation of the Jewish community institutions in Madrid and in other cities of Spain, made possible, on the one hand, the signing of the agreement of the Federation of Israelite Communities of Spain with the Spanish State, and on the other, the various agreements of the Jewish Community of Madrid with the Autonomous Community of Madrid, thus establishing a legal and social framework for the life of Jews in Madrid, in accordance with their historical roots.

Books about the Jewish Community of Madrid and Spain:

Los judíos en España (1789-1902)

Author: Jacobo Israel Garzón

Madrid: Hebraica Ediciones, 2019. 765 p.

La España contemporánea y la cuestión judía: retejiendo los hilos de la memoria y de la historia

Author: Danielle Rozenberg

Madrid: Casa Sefarad-Israel; Marcial Pons Historia, 2010. 374 p.

La Comunidad Judía de Madrid: textos e imágenes para una historia, 1917-2001

Authors: Jacobo Israel Garzón, Uriel Macías Kapón

Madrid: Jewish Community of Madrid, 2001. 129 p.

Ledor Vador: 100 años de vida judía en Madrid

Madrid: Nagrela, 2017. 265 p

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