My Search for the Lost Jews of Formentera ,Spain

My Search for the Lost Jews of Formentera ,Spain
Yesterday i was looking at local colorful ceramic plates to buy and i spoke to the woman who owned the shop.
She is one of the few “Payus” (local) people that speaks a great english.
I asked her ,pointing to a tile with a 6 point star on it
“What does this mean?
She replied” This is the symbol of the Jews.”
“Why do you carry this ?” I pressed on,barely able to contain my excitement…
“Because this island and Ibiza and Mallorca once had many Jews”
” I know ” ,I finally stated,”I am a Judio (Jew) and one of the very few on this island.”
“There are others” she smiled cryptically.
Then ensued a conversation where i told her all i knew about the history of the Jews on the island and she was astonished.
“All our history has been erased “<she said sadly.”In school they took away our language of Catalan and we could only speak Spanish and learn things Spain but not of this island.”
I asked her if she knew about the concentration camp i discovered on the island.
Her eyes grew big and she said ,”Oh yes we cried many times over that .People we knew starved to death.”
I told her i went there and recited Hebrew prayers for the dead a few years ago.
I asked her about the practice of the farmers who would not go to church on Sunday and instead would till their fields and yet not work on Saturday and perhaps i opined this hinted at the presence of “Secret Jews ”
She shook her head,”No they never took interest in religion or the church and did their own thing and minded their own business.”
Then why did they not work on Saturday? I pressed.
She admitted she didn’t know,”Maybe because they wanted to enjoy themselves after working all week.”
“Where are the Jews buried,I asked for this is my biggest question.”jews lived here for 2,000 years but i can find no burial ground”
“i don’t know” she said somewhat ruefully.”perhaps they were buried secretly or in the sea”
She talked about how hard it was during the Civil War when Franco punished this island and for many years after and how it was forgotten until the hippies came.
I told her i was one of those hippies in 1973.
“Where did you learn your English? I asked.
Her family was friends with an Englishman an this daughters and he taught her English during the day and then she would play with his daughters in English after.
She was proud of this.
Her mother’s family traces their roots on this island to the 17th century.
These pictures were taken at the Concentration camp ruins i discovered on the island.There were 1700 prisoners here awaiting execution mostly from Mainland Spain,free masons and anarchists and communists ..Hitler took an especial interest in this concentration camp that ran from 1936 to 1941…
From this island Franco’s war planes would take off to bomb civilian populations on Valencia accompanied by Nazi German Luftwaffe.
The Nazis came to Ibiza in 1941 and the Jews fled ending an ancient community on both islands. There are Jews or rather persons with Jewish roots possibly scattered around but they keep these secret and are close mouthed.
I am one of a few Jews i know of on the island ,one other being a longtime resident who is an Israeli and artist..Another person i know of Jewish origin asked me not to tell anyone of her roots expressing fear of consequences i suppose. For me if someone asks i declare it with impunity and pride .I don’t give a damn
Last year i was with an Israeli woman on the island i had met and we had dinner together and she told the waiter she doesn’t eat pork or shell fish and he said you must be Jewish.
She asked him in surprise how do you know this and he replied his mother is Jewish but quickly said ,”Don’t tell anyone please.” #jewsformentera,#jewsinbalearics,#formentera,#jonathonlipsininformentera.#lostjewsofformentera

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