in the Media
Re finding Jewish roots
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.
to interview (starts on min. 15:17)
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
and prevent future construction on the site. Due to their
efforts, in 2007 Catalunya recognised the cemetery as an official
“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.”
Jews of Spain
quarterly magazine of Jewish culture, UK - July
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.
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.
Hugh Delehanty & Barbara Graham
restoring Jewish quarter -
but local Jews say they feel ignored
December 14, 2006
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
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".
EL PAÍS. Spain
September 23, 2005
El Periódico de Catalunya.
September 5, 2005
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.
woman, who combines her architecture profession with the Hebrew
heritage, lead the participants through the lights and shadows of
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
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.”
NIW. Niew Israelitisch Weekblad,
January 21, 2005
Back to Sepharad
JUDISK Kronika. Sweden
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
Barcelone - the - Jewess
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.
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 alchemists house
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 grew up with such converso antics.
* the oldest
synagogue remains have been restored
November 18, 2001
New menorah in the
artist Ferran Aguiló
Lisa Alcalay Klug,
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
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
Nº 15, Fall 2000
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 Catalonias Jewish heritage again in the local press. Rius 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.
JOURNEYS IN THE PAST AND PRESENT TENSE
Companion to Jewish travel and sites in Europe
Jeremy Leigh for UJIA Guide, London (in
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,
Trudie Trox for
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