In 1929, Carles Rahola wrote his book Els jueus a Catalunya
. Talking about Girona, he wrote: "Is there someone with a deep and selfless veneration for matters of thinking who does not remember, with all the respect in the world, the name of those Jews who cultivated Philosophy in the silent city where we write these words; who got their sight used to the contemplation of the same horizon we see; who worked and fought here; (...), who found themselves, sometimes protected, sometimes hated and prosecuted?". And he stated that "nothing, or next to nothing, talks to us about them nowadays (...) But we evoke, as an interesting moment in the history of the city, those lives dedicated to work, commerce, thinking and science".
Today, beyond the nostalgic evocation of the distinguished writer from Girona, though touching and full of emotion, we can state a factual recovery and a scientific work, which, based on the creation of a specialised library, research in the archives, urban archaeology work, organisation of lecture series, specialised courses, congresses and symposia, has made it possible to set the history of the Jewish community of Girona within its context, and to assign it an important and well-deserved place in the human, social, political and financial development of the city.
A development which would not be complete without bearing in mind the contribution of this community, who had developed such an important scientific and philosophic activity as to place Girona in the focal point of Mediterranean Europe in the 13th Century, and to receive the magnificent definition as "Mother City of Israel".
The 'call' (Jewish quarter) is a retrieved and restored space, a place of a distinctive cultural interest, both for the citizens of Girona and for the persons who come to visit the city and discover a world which has been unknown until recently. At the Bonastruc ça Porta Centre, the Museum of Jewish History offers a tour through the history and the memory of those who have been our ancestors. Furthermore, the Nahmanides Institute of Studies, with its rooms for study and research, and above all its programmes of research and training, is fostering the recovery of this important chapter of our past. Now we can no longer say with Rahola that "nothing talks to us about them nowadays". On the contrary: Recovering the Jewish history still is a task in progress at the 'call' of Girona. The recently held symposium has opened up new perspectives of study and has offered brand-new interpretations and data. Currently, the Jews of Girona are an inseparable part of the Past and the Present of the city.
Anna Pagans Gruartmoner
Mayor of Girona and President of Patronat Call de Girona