Sephardic SIG #Sephardim Visit to Majorca/Mallorca #sephardic

William Yoffee

Visit to Majorca/Mallorca

My wife and I are planning a trip to the Spanish Island of Majorca during
Passover. We have arranged to participate in the Jewish Community's seder on
the first night, and we will try to make contact with the Xueta community.

For those who are not familiar with the history of the Jews of Majorca,
there are indications of Jews present in the Balearic Islands as early as
the 2nd Century C.E., and Jews lived there since the earliest occupation by
Arabs beginning in 902 C.E. The Jewish community became especially important
to the island's economy and foreign trade after the conquest by King James I
of Aragon (King James I of Majorca) in 1229-30. The community thrived until
all Jews were forcibly baptized in 1435, well before the expulsion of Jews
from Spain in 1492. These Conversos, also known as New Christians, were so
discriminated against and virtually quarantined that they formed a separate
community known as Xuetas (pronounced chu-eh-tas) and were not permitted to
integrate or marry within the Old Christian community. Consequently, for
over 500 years the families of the Xueta community prayed in a separate
church and intermarried exclusively among themselves. Recently, some of this
community's members appealed to rabbinical authorities in Israel for
permission to convert to Judaism, but were determined to already be Jewish
and therefor did not need to formally convert.

There are fifteen existing family surnames that are considered to be of
original Xueta families. While my surname is not one of them, Jaffe, or some
variation appears frequently in the early Aragon records concerning Majorca.
For example, in 1238, King James rewarded a number of the Jewish soldiers,
including one named Jaffia, who participated in his conquest of the island
with land grants on the Island of Majorca. He also afforded the Jewish
community special protection.

We would appreciate any information or advice >from anyone who has visited
the Island of Majorca or had contact with the Jewish Community or the Xueta
community. You may communicate directly with me at the email address below.

Bill Yoffee
Co-Administrator of the Xueta DNA Project of Family Tree DNA
Administrator of the Jaffe Surname Project of Family Tree DNA

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