Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Yesterday turned out to be a very busy day. I was up early so that I could be at Neo Gym for my evaluation. I was introduced to one of the trainers, Enrique, and he did my take-in evaluation. After ascertaining my height and weight, he took my blood pressure and then proceeded to do a thorough evaluation of my joints to assess if I had any physical limitations when it came to exercise. We finished the hour session with me doing a gentle ten minute ride on the reclining bike and his taking my blood pressure at several different intervals during the exercise and, finally, after two minutes of rest. He will use the information he has gathered to design an exercise program for me.
I had breakfast when I got home and soon thereafter Susan and I headed out to the market. We picked up a few vegetables, some ham and a couple of filets that we would have for lunch on Wednesday. From the market we went in search of curtains for the living room and found a lovely pair of gray and white striped curtains and added them to our shopping bag. When we got home we put away the food and then proceeded to take down the old curtains in the bedroom and the living room and put up the new ones. Thankfully, it was a rather easy task. With our mission accomplished it was time for lunch.
Our destination was La Fórcola because when we passed by on our way home from the market we liked the menu of the day. Susan and I both chose the salad with mussels and the pasta Bolognese. The salad with mussels was made up of a variety of lettuces, cherry tomatoes and green pepper with three mejillones a la vinagreta. Mejillones a la vinagreta are mussels that have been steamed and then covered with a mixture of chopped onions, tomatoes and green pepper that have been marinated for a while in vinaigrette. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the meat sauce was quite tasty. I had a glass of wine with my meal and Susan opted for water. For dessert Susan had cheesecake and I had the tiramisu. We finished the meal with a coffee and went back home.
It was a little after 5:00 when I headed out again to look for a store called Kosher Tov to see what they had available so that Rachel would have lots of food options when she comes to visit in the spring. The store itself is quite small and is about a fifteen-minute walk from our place. I found the street – Calle del Doctor Gil y Morte – and then I found number 11. I entered and met the owner, José Estrugo, known to his friends as Yossi. Little did I realize how much I was about to learn about the Jews of Valencia from him.
The Jews were expelled from Valencia in 1382. The Jewish ghetto was attacked and in the process 450 Jews were killed and 5,000 Jews were forcibly converted to Catholicism. The church took control of all the properties that belonged to the Jews and, to this day, retains ownership of 75% of them. In addition to houses being confiscated all the contents of the synagogues were confiscated, too. The church still retains ownership of all scrolls, books and adornments that were part and parcel of any synagogue. Before the expulsion the number of Jews approached 30,000 and made up ten percent of the population. Today in the area of the province of Valencia and its surroundings there are some 2,000 Jews.
The Jews controlled the salt trade. That privilege was given to them by King Jaime I and they set up shop in the plaza in front of the cathedral. If you look carefully at the stained glass windows of the cathedral you will see one with the Star of David placed there so that the merchants could see it on their way to and from work. The judería was located in an area that is comprised today of the Calle del Mar and the Jewish cemetery was located in front of what is now the Corte Inglés on Calle Colón. There is one remaining Jewish house standing from that era and the Lubavitch Jews are attempting to buy it to turn it into a museum and a study center. They are in the process of looking for a generous donor to foot the bill.
I spent close to an hour with Yossi and he offered to give Rachel a tour of Jewish Valencia when she gets here. I took a last look around the store and bought four bagels that would end up being today’s breakfast. Before I left he gave me his business card and the names and addresses of the Rabbi, the Chabad House and the synagogue. My walk back home was rather leisurely and it was about 7:30 when I walked through the door.
The evening was very relaxed. We had a light supper around 9:30 and spent the remainder of the evening reading and relaxing. I was in bed by 11:00 because I had a 10:00 AM appointment at Neo Gym to begin my training and I did not want to be rushed in the morning.