Urban Cultours project was created in
1997, as a way of connecting to a very rich yet almost forgotten part
of Jewish heritage. It is also about recovering for and from Catalonia
a piece of its own culture, dating as far back as the ninth century.
Here, where our ancestors lived, a remote past and a lively present
meet. The oldest synagogue in Barcelona, dating back to the ninth century
or even earlier, was identified in the last decades of the twentieth
century, just as a new congregation, Atid, was born from an ember.
My programs and tours focus on all aspects of
Judaism in Barcelona and Catalonia. Urban Cultours is actively involved
with current Jewish issues and with the local Jewish community as well
as with Heritage initiatives.
I will take you along an emotional journey where you will share, understand
and enjoy the uniqueness of Jewish past and present-day life in Spain,
in a combination of history, current affairs, opinions and personal
Together, we can keep this story alive.
On a personal note
My grandparents arrived in Argentina from
Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century. My parents married
in Buenos Aires and went to New York, where I was born. Soon after
they returned to Buenos Aires, where my sister was born.
My strongest childhood Jewish memories are the family reunions for
High Holidays, and my grandma's cooking: gefilte fish, chicken
soup, knishes, latkes, blintzes. All those delicious recipes
which I learned and still cook today.
In the late 70's, already an architect, I spent a couple of years in Europe
and then decided to move to my native New York City where I lived the
next 12 years.
As I frequently traveled to Spain
to visit family, I became very attracted to its culture and lifestyle,
and moved to Barcelona in 1991. Four years later I met a group of Jewish
families who gathered on Friday evenings for kabbalat shabbat and to celebrate
the High Holidays. In the beginning, nothing was very familiar; nothing
related to my childhood memories. Soon, however, I felt very comfortable
in that atmosphere and joined them in their efforts to make an old project
come true: founding a congregation of progressive orientation.
Traveling Jews, surprised at the news that there was a new synagogue in
Barcelona, came to visit. We invited them to commented walking tours through
what had once been the Jewish Quarter in the Middle Ages, and I was called
upon to translate the explanations into English or French. This is how
it all began back in 1997.
So it is in Barcelona, of all places, where I explore the local Jewish
history and our common roots. I believe that our memory must be kept alive,
brought back after 600 years of oblivion. And this is my contribution
to it. I've had a lot of support in my project, and I'd like to thank
my family, friends, colleagues and clients for their unwavering enthusiasm,
trust, and always useful feedback.
I trust that you will enjoy these visits as much as I enjoy sharing what
I continue to learn about our heritage.
Hope to see you soon!
Dominique Tomasov Blinder
Urban Cultours project