Week-long festival to honor the Jewish journey in Spain and the Americas
By Schelly Talalay Dardashti
“Resiliencia! The Experience of Jewish Communities in Spain and the Americas” is a week-long event set for Thursday, May 16 to Thursday, May 23, 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It highlights the extraordinary journey of the Jewish people in Spanish-speaking countries, and focuses in part on the US Southwest.
Co-sponsored by the Instituto Cervantes, CasaSefarad@Nahalat Shalom, Festival Djudeo-Espanyol and the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the cultural festival offers a full week of film, music, food, exhibits and lectures.
Highlights include an opening art exhibition, "Women of Valor" by New Mexico native, Natalie Trujillo Gonzalez on Thursday, May 16, at Nahalat Shalom. A Sephardic Shabbat Dinner takes place on Friday, May 17 (extra fee, limited to 75 attendees).
Saturday, May 18: following a Sephardic Shabbat morning service at Nahalat Shalom, Dr. Sara Koplik of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico will speak on a pioneer of the New Mexico Crypto-Jewish community, Loggie Carrasco, followed by Havdalah, and a screening of “Challah Rising in the Desert,” a documentary celebrating the history, influences and people of New Mexico’s Jewish community. Director Isaac Artenstein and producer Paula Amar Schwartz will do a Q&A.
Sunday, May 19: Schelly Talalay Dardashti will speak on “DNA and New Mexico: There are no secrets” focusing on Sephardic DNA research, followed by Rabbi Dr. Jordi Gendra Molina’s program on the commonalities of Sta Teresa de Avila and Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi. The evening concludes with a concert, Neshama del bosque, with Cantor Beth Cohen and Ensemble.
Monday, May 20: Exhibits opening including “Shalom Sefarad,” the story of immigrants from the Ottoman Empire to Seattle, Washington; “Discover Sefarad,” a photo exhibit of 18 Spanish communities where vibrant Jewish communities were located, with Marta Puig, managing director of the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters; and “Persecuted and Saved,” the story of thousands of Jews who crossed the Pyrenees into Catalunya, Spain, fleeing persecution in Europe, with history professor Dr. Josep Calvet of the University of Lleida (Catalunya, Spain).
Tuesday, May 21: Two films will be screened. “Persecuted and Saved,” the documentary illustrating how 5,000-7,000 Jews reached the Spanish border by crossing the Lleida Pyrenees. It honors the memory of those who fled persecution and those who helped make it possible. Directors Daniel and Jaume Serra will be present for Q&A. The second film, “The Last Suit,” is the story Abraham Bursztein, 88, who runs from Buenos Aires to Poland to find a friend who saved him from death at the end of World War II. Argentine Director Pablo Solarz will do a Q&A.
Wednesday, May 22: Singer Lara Bello and Ensemble will perform “Juderias,” a concert of folkloric Ladino songs from around the world sharing memories of the Sephardic community still alive in the traditions of Spain today.
Thursday, May 23: A roundtable with Fernando Vara de Rey, director of the Instituto Cervantes in Cracow, Poland, and with attorney Luis Portero, will speak on the relationship of the State of Israel and efforts of the Instituto Cervantes and the Government of Spain to promote and preserve Jewish culture. This will be followed the screening of “The Caborca Jew. A Mexican Story,” a documentary inspired by the narrator’s grandfather, a Polish immigrant trying to get to the US but instead finding himself in Caborca, a small town in Sonora, Mexico. Narrator David Chait will do a Q&A. A Cocktail Reception will follow and close the week-long Resiliencia!
A special, discounted pass including all activities (except the Sephardic Shabbat Dinner) is available at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Box Office (505-724-4771; www.njccnm.org). Paid reservation for the catered Sephardic Shabbat Dinner is via Congregation Nahalat Shalom (505-343-8227; nahalatshalom.org).
Congregation Nahalat Shalom is the venue for the Art Exhibit, the Sephardic Shabbat Dinner, and Saturday morning Shabbat services. All other activities are at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Bank of America Theater and at the Instituto Cervantes, except for Sunday, May 19, when activities will be held in the Grand Hall of the Pete V. Domenici Bldg, adjacent to the NHCC main building.
The event was organized in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico, the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, Centro Sefarad-Israel (Spain), Red de Juderias de Espana (Spain), Diputacion of Lleida (Spain), Latin American & Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico, Consulate General of Israel (Houston), Jewish Federation of New Mexico, ADL Mountain States Region, New Mexico Humanities Council, and Century Automotive/