Preserving the Legacy of the Jews of Murcia

Last month, the autonomous region of Murcia, located in southeastern Spain, signed an agreement with a Jewish organization to take steps to preserve the legacy of its Jewish history. The Jerusalem Post reports:

The agreement was signed . . . in the old synagogue of Lorca, unique among synagogues throughout Spain in that it was never converted into a church. Lorca is a city that served as the frontier town between Christian and Muslim Spain in Middle Ages, where Jews frequently served as intermediaries between the two communities.

Murcia had a rich and active Jewish past, with several notable Jews residing there, including [the 13th-century statesman] Moses ibn Turiel. Many of the port city’s Jews were historically involved in the maritime trade. It is speculated that these connections were ultimately important when the majority of Jews who fled overseas during the Expulsion from Spain in 1492 used the ports in the region to travel to other parts of the Mediterranean and beyond.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Jewish history, Medieval Spain, Spain, Spanish Expulsion, Synagogues

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform