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Urban Cultours in the Media




Jewish Heritage Europe Conference in Krakow
Linda Jimenez
07/17/13


 

RADIO SEFARAD, English Corner

When and where was Jewish Heritage Europe founded?

Dominique Tomasov is an architect based in Barcelona where she is an active member of Reform Congregation Atid and a founder of Center Zakhor of Barcelona, an organization which is specialized in the protection and transmission of Jewish Heritage.

She recently attended a Seminar in Krakow, Poland, that was organized by Jewish Heritage Europe. The title of the seminar was Managing Jewish Inmovable Heritage in Europe, a working seminar on projects, challenges and strategic thinking.

link to interview


Jewish News ONE world's Jewish-interest news channel
07/09/13

Standing over the city of Barcelona is the medieval resting site of up to thousands of Jews, Montjuic. Currently a plan is in place to try and mark out the exact area of the site so as to stop further construction from happening on top of the graves.

To try and date the origin of the cemetery, Dominique was advised to search through property records to find the first time the hill was referred to as Montjuic, which means Mount of the Jews in old Catalán, the language spoken in Catalonia.

 

Medieval Jewish cemetery in Spain
Paul Walsh


Re finding Jewish roots


 

RADIO TELEVISIÓN ESPAÑOLA
Jordi Vila for Antena 2 · 11/09/08

Is one of the pioneers explaining the history of the Jewish Call in Barcelona. In fact, the "Count's City" has caused Dominique Tomasov to re find her roots.
She is also one of the promotors of Center Zakhor of Barcelona,
specialized in the protection and transmission of Jewish heritage.

link to interview (starts on min. 15:17)


Barcelona METROPOLITAN
the city's magazine in English - October 2008

In an effort to gain acknowledgement, the Jewish community united and petitioned to have the Generalitat officially recognise the cemetery,
and prevent future construction on the site. Due to their efforts, in 2007 Catalunya recognised the cemetery as an official landmark.

We are not interested in vying with the city”, explained Dominique Tomasov Blinder, an architect and Jewish heritage advocate. “We want to work together, adding our expertise as consultancy, to acknowledge the importance of this place to the Jews and the city.”

 

Barcelona's Jews
Roi Ben-Yehuda


The Jews of Spain
Janet Levin


Jewish Renaissance

link to article

 

JEWISH RENAISSANCE
quarterly magazine of Jewish culture, UK - July 2008

WHOSE HERITAGE?
Jewish heritage is now a major industry in Spain. Cities cooperated to form a network of Jewish quarters –Caminos de Sepharad– conservation is taking place and many festivals and lectures are held, often without any Jewish participation and sometimes with doubtful authenticity.

"I want to give a Jewish voice to the explanation of the Jewish past – and to connect it with the Jewish present. Many in Spain cannot see any connection."

Dominique told me that a campaign she had mounted with Israeli architect David Stoleru had born fruit. A medieval Jewish cemetery in the town was to have had a public toilet built over it. “It is hidden from view but there are bones still there.” There were petitions and much
pressure from the Jewish Communities and finally the Catalonian government agreed that the site should have the status of a landmark.


National Geographic TRAVELER
December 2007

Still, I couldn't forget that Barcelona hadn't always been a lovefest. There was the matter of the Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews in the 1400's. I'm not a very observant Jew, but when I travel I gravitate to the ghettos and eerie pockets of once flourishing-communities where crumbling remains offer starck reminders of all that was lost. So I met up with a Jewish architect, Dominique Tomasov Blinder, who started Urban Cultours to give an inside look at Barcelona's former Jewish quarter, or Call.

As we explored the tangle of streets in the Call, it became clear that Blinder was on a mission. "This was one of the most important centers of Jewish life until the late 14th century. I believe the memory must be kept alive and given a voice after 600 years of oblivion." She pointed to Hebrew inscriptions in the wall of a medieval building. "These tombstones were taken from the Jewish cemetery and used for construction after the Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism or flee the country." The streets of the Call felt barren, more numbing abscence than presence.

 

Barcelona two perspectives
Hugh Delehanty & Barbara Graham



Barcelona restoring Jewish quarter -
but local Jews say they feel ignored
Reuven Friedman
December 14, 2006


 

JTA, Global news service of the Jewish people

Dominique Tomasov, also an architect and a founding member of the Reform congregation, independently began giving a Jewish voice to guided tours of the neighborhood in the late 1990s.She tells visitors the history of Barcelona Jews while tying it in to the re-emergence of a living community. Tomasov spoke of fruitless efforts to build some sort of partnership with the city around the renovation project.

What upsets me most about this is that Judaism is a living culture,” she said. “It has a presence in Barcelona, and we could bring Jewish authenticity to the project.”

Various sources, including those in City Hall, said anti-Israel feeling has affected the city’s attitude on some level.


Let us take a look into the life of Dominique Tomasov: we will have a better perspective of Judaism and Barcelona. Born in New York,… almost immediately (her family) returns to Buenos Aires, where she grew up and studied architecture… We now have Dominique settled in Barcelona (since 1991), following perhaps a mysterious mandate by Yaveh.

Being Jewish did not take a prominent place in her life. But one day…
"I was invited to a family Shabbat… I liked it and repeated the following Friday, and the next. In my case, there was a happy coincidence between reconnecting with my roots, participating in community life and discovering the Judaism of Barcelona… Step by step I got more and more involved, I studied, until it was time when I knew that I had to tell the Jewish story of this city from my personal perspective as a Jewish woman in Barcelona".

 

Jewish Barcelona
Sergio Makaroff
EL PAÍS. Spain
September 23, 2005

Jewish Barcelona


Sepharad in Barcelona
Antonio Baquero
El Periódico de Catalunya. Spain
September 5, 2005

Sepharad in Barcelona

 

A route in the Call becomes the “star of the European Day of Jewish Culture”: "We are here to explain a history common to all of us, Barcelonians and Jews." Thus opened Dominique Tomasov the visit "to the story of the Call", Barcelona’s Jewish quarter.

This woman, who combines her architecture profession with the Hebrew heritage, lead the participants through the lights and shadows of Sephardi Barcelona.

Her description and Catherine Favret’s story telling turned the walk into a real discovery. The route was the main course of the European Day of Jewish Culture, celebrated yesterday in Barcelona for the third year and organized in 26 European countries the same day.


The walks in the Call, the website and the study, take a lot of her time; but Dominique Tomasov Blinder does not mind it “because it gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

“Some time ago, Jewish North American visitors gave me this advice: tell us the Jewish history of Barcelona, do not allow this heritage to be lost….”

“I then realized that there was a very rich Jewish past here but, on one hand the local Jewish community was shy and introverted for a long time, and on the other the conversions had left very deep scars… It is about not forgetting all of this.”

 

Our own Barcelona
Mariano Slutzky
NIW. Niew Israelitisch Weekblad, Holland
January 21, 2005

NIW


Back to Sepharad
Robert Rosenblatt
JUDISK Kronika. Sweden
November 2004

Back to Sepharad

 

Dominique Tomasov Blinder found a Jewish Barcelona that changed her life. Today, more than ten years after her departure from a secularised life in New York, she is one of the leader's of Spain's liberal Jewish community and has an opinion in a lot if issues when it comes to Jewish culture.

The municipality of Barcelona is in a process of renovating the old Jewish quarter and excavating the old Jewish cemetery on the Montjuic (mountain of the Jews). However, the local Jews has not been informed about any of this. “Our culture is taken as something of the past, to be displayed in cases as interesting objects for tourists.”

Jewish life in Spain is everything but free of problem but seems to be on its way back again after more than 500 years of exile and will probably give the country an additional attraction above the beautiful churches and the dried ham.


In 1871, only 21 identified Jews were resident of Spain and very few lived in Barcelona. As intermarriage is at least 50%, ATID liberal congregation is the only place where a Jewish person can participate with a non-Jewish partner. With the occasional support of visiting Rabbis of the WUPJ, ATID was founded in 1992 by a dozen of young families who had been holdings services and activities in the houses.

ATID became involved in the restoration of the historic synagogue seven years ago, when Miguel Iaffa, a friend of the congregation, bought the basement of a building identified as the mayor synagogue in XIV c. documents. Thanks to a website launched by Dominique Tomasov Blinder –member of ATID– and to her assistance, the first bar mitzvah was celebrated there after 600 years.

“We really want to put Atid on the map for Jewish people all over the world, so that they can share their experiences with us” says Rabbi Edery. “Come and see us, meet our family of congregants.”

 

Rebirth in Barcelona
Schelly Talalay Dardashti
REFORM JUDAISM. USA
Spring 2004

Rebirth in Barcelona


Barcelone - the - Jewess Ann-Eve Fillenbaum

 

REGARDS. Revue du Centre communautaire laïc de Belgique
Newsletter N° 3 - 4; fall 2002

Barcelona is grand, vibrant and multiple. Under the deviled rhythm of a city that never sleeps, centuries of history are found, days of human tragedies, specially so when we evoke the Jewish community, kicked out of these walls like of the rest of the country since the Inquisition.

… Dominique Tomasov Blinder is one of the instigators of the rediscovery of the Jewish past. Architect by profession, she started Urban Cultours, from scratch, thanks to her passion for architecture and her new home city, stimulated by the promise she made to her mother of not breaking the chain of memory. Little by little, the Spaniards also join interested in this part of their history.


The Sophisticated Traveller, The New York Times Magazine
Andre Aciman's visit to Barcelona had a deeper reason: “… to look for remnants of my Jewish ancestry in Spain …” Physical reminders of Jewish life from 1000 years ago being scarce*, he is unfortunately unsuccessful in his quest. As he participates in one of Urban Cultours’ visits, he catches himself, while standing outside of an alchemist’s house …

… looking for what I imagine every Jew secretly hopes to find. I am not a believer, and there is something verging on kitsch in the gesture, but with my hand I feel the right jamb of the door in the hope of touching a telltale indention marking the spot of an absent mezuzah. I know that my guide has seen and understood my gesture, but is tactful enough to say nothing. I know-she-knows- I-know-she-knows … I grew up with such converso antics.

* the oldest synagogue remains have been restored

 

BARCELONA
Andre Aciman,
November 18, 2001

Donated in 2002
New menorah in the
oldest synagogue,
artist Ferran Aguiló


BEAUTIFUL BARCELONA

Dominique with group

 

Lisa Alcalay Klug, travel writer
The Jewish Week, for the Jewish community of greater New York
October 26, 2001

Lisa Alcalay enjoyed the Urban Cultours routes, and also had the chance to meet other visitors as well as community members, participate in morning services and have lunch at the Chabad with more tourists. She had very kind words about us.

Multi-lingual guides such as Dominique Blinder Tomasov of Urban Cultours help make a visit worthwhile, however. I appreciated her expertise during a recent visit hosted by the Spanish Board of Tourism and several Catalan organizations.


AURORA, Israel - October 2001

If you want to know the Barcelona Jewish Call better, says Mario Weinstein, then you really need a guide.

… If you visit the Museo de la Ciutat in the Plaça del Rei, and you climb downstairs to visit the archaeological remains, ranging from the roman times to the Middle Ages - check this as you meander through this fascinating museum: near the exit, at the point where you have to make a left turn, look up and you'll see a stone wall; some of the stones bear inscriptions - look closely you'll see its hebrew.

… I wouldn't have found it, had my guide Dominique Tomasov Blinder not alerted me …

 

DISCOVERING JEWISH BARCELONA
Mario Wainstein,
Chief editor

Discovering ancient hebrew inscriptions


JEWISH BARCELONA
Silvia Riu,
Chief Editor
Barcelona PLUS
Nº 15, Fall 2000

The small, narrow streets of the Barcelona jewish Call

 

Silvia Riu and photographer Dani Codina visited the Call with Dominique Tomasov, (Urban Cultours project) before writing this very detailed account of the history of the Jewish quarters. This article is the first, after many years, to feature Catalonia’s Jewish heritage again in the local press. Riu’s article makes very enjoyable reading:

… The small, narrow and labyrinthine streets of the old Call – the layout of the streets has changed slightly since then – form a dark area, which entices you into it. It is said that in the very narrow streets, during times of maximum population density, a small living area was built from façade to façade – forming tunnels in the lower part to allow access – so as to provide shelter for any new members who entered the community …


SPAIN and BARCELONA TO BILBAO
George Semler for FODOR Guides
Random House Titles (current editions, 2002)

… Walking Tours For the best English-language walking tour of anything from Gaudi's Sagrada Familia to the medieval Jewish quarter. Contact Dominique Tomasov Blinder at Urban Cultours.


 

A mission to rescue Barcelona's jewish past


 

JOURNEYS IN THE PAST AND PRESENT TENSE
Companion to Jewish travel and sites in Europe
Jeremy Leigh for UJIA Guide, London (in press, 2001)

… Visitors in search of Jewish sites in Barcelona, and elsewhere in Spain, should be aware that Urban Cultours specializes in Jewish tourism offering an excellent service and high quality tours. This project is designed by Dominique T. Blinder, Barcelona.


Trudie Trox for
MERIAN Classic, Culture with genius: Barcelona. 2002
Hidden testimonies of an important culture: the Call, Barcelona's Jewish quarter

… The streets are not narrower, the houses are not grander nor poorer than in other areas of the Gothic quarter. Barcelona's Jewish quarter (Call) housed about 4000 persons in the middle ages …

… The Jewish traces in the Call are today less than meager. Urban Cultours offers special visits (in Spanish and English) with very high cultural and historic content.

 

A mission to rescue Barcelona's jewish past



 
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