T O P I C
CHUETAS ("Pork-Eaters") or INDIVIDUOS DELA CALLE ("Ghetto People") were names given to the descendants of the secret Jews in Majorca, who at heart were still faithful to Judaism. To induce the belief that they were good Christians, publicly ate pork ("chuya," diminutive "chueta"); the second term, "Ghetto People," is self-explanatory. Their fate was similar to that of the Cagots of the Pyrenees, who are still held in abhorrence by the natives of that region. People were afraid to approach them; at church they sat apart; and even in the cemetery their bodies were isolated. When the tribunal of the Inquisition was established in Majorca in 1488, it granted a general amnesty to all Jews that solicited pardon for their apostasy, and it received back the repentant ones, to the number of 680, on payment of a considerable fine. Beginning with 1509, however, several secret Jews were publicly burned before the Gate of Jesus at Palma; and in 1679, when a synagogue was discovered in an outlying house, several hundred of them were condemned by the tribunal to imprisonment for life, and their property was confiscated.
To escape these continuous persecutions and extortions, a number of Chuetas, reputed to be the wealthiest inhabitants of Palma, decided to leave the "Golden Island" in a hired English vessel. After setting sail unfavorable winds compelled them to return to the harbor of Palma. In 1691, after being imprisoned for five years they were condemned by the Inquisition to the confiscation of their property and more than fifty of them were garroted and then burned at the stake. Among the latter were Raphael Valls, "an excellent rabbi"; Raphael Benito Terongi, his most faithful pupil; and Catalina Terongi, a sister of the latter. These hero-martyrs were commemorated by Majorcan troubadours, whose verses are still sung by the women of the island while at their work. The Inquisition did its utmost to fan the prejudice of the people against the outlawed. Their portraits were placed in the Dominican monastery; and in 1755 a list was published in which were mentioned the names and rank of all those condemned to death or to confiscation of property from 1645 to 1691.
Not until the publication of the royal decree, Dec. 16, 1782, was an amelioration effected in the condition of these people, who were thenceforward permitted to reside in any street in the city of Palma and in any part of the island, and were no longer to be called Jews, Hebrews, or Chuetas, under penalty of the galleys or imprisonment in the fortress. Three years later they were declared eligible to join the army and navy as well as public offices. Notwithstanding, as late as 1857 there appeared a special book directed against them. Titled ‘La Sinagoga Balear. Historia de los Judios de Mallorca’ the author, Juan de la Puerta Vizcains, hoped to use it to blackmail them. They, however, bought up all but three copies of the work. The descendants of the Chuetas, who bear to-day the same names that their ancestors bore in the fourteenth century, now occupy a respected position in industry and agriculture, as well as in the departments of science and politics.
Bibliography: Kayserling, Gesch. der Juden in Spanien und Portugal, i. 178 et seq.;
M. Levin, Ein Besuch bei den "Leuten der Gasse" in Palma, in Brüll's Jahrb. i. 132 et seq.;
Rev. Et. Juives, lxiv. 297 et seq.D.
Read more: Jewish Encyclopedia
After the Catalan conquest of 1229, the island’s Jews attained a solid political, economic and social status. In the city of Mallorca they had their own quarter, call the ‘Call’, which formed a sort of small city within the city. It was isolated from the rest and at nights the gates were closed to prevent anyone entering or leaving.
Accounts of the presence of Jewish communities in the Balearic Islands go back a long way. In the year 418 Bishop Sever of Menorca issued an encyclical informing of the to him miraculous event of the mass conversion to Christianity of the whole of Menorca's Hebraic community. The fact is, however, that there was nothing in the least miraculous about this conversion: it was the result of the Menorcan Christians' aggressive attitude to the Jews, who opted for a change of faith so as to avoid potentially even worse consequences. This fact (which, moreover, is the first known example of anti-Semitism in Europe) was in some ways a premonition of what was to be the destiny of the island's Jews.
After the fifth century we have no further news of the existence of Semitic groups in the archipelago, though this does not mean that they had disappeared. This gap in our knowledge continues throughout the Muslim period, with the sole exception of a small eleventh century site, known as the Arab baths but in fact Jewish. Not until the Catalan conquest of 1229 do we once again take up the thread of the history of the island's Semites. The promptness with which they reappear in the records is an indication of their presence, at least in Mallorca, during the previous centuries. From this moment on they enjoyed a solid political, economic and social status. In the city of Mallorca they had their own quarter, called the Call, and their own "municipal" organisation, with internal authorities. Needless to say, the Call was like a kind of small city within the city; it was isolated from the rest and at night the gates were closed to prevent anyone from entering or leaving. Inside, the daily life of the Jews was governed by Mosaic law, with its characteristic customs and habits. They even used Hebrew to draw up documents, though we do not know to what extent they spoke it. In addition, they were also segregated when it came to paying taxes, since they were assigned a fixed amount which, with a certain criterion of proportionality, they had to raise between them. Even so, the two communities -the Jewish and the Christian- were not oblivious to each other and could hardly ignore each other. It is well known that the Jews played an important part as moneylenders during the Middle Ages, taking advantage of Christianity's prohibition of usury. However, this was not their only occupation in Mallorca, or indeed anywhere else (not al1 Jews were rich, and the majority made a living from manual work or off the land); it was complemented by a considerable trading activity, since after the conquest the Islands became fully integrated in the commercial circuits of the Mediterranean and came to play a leading role in them.
However, the Jews' mercantile activities were directed primarily at internal trade, with a special influence in rural areas, providing the peasants with animals, corn and cloth. They also made an important contribution to scientific activity. Jewish medicine in the Islands enjoyed a position of privilege similar to that reached in other areas, with famous doctors like Juda Mosconi. Cartography, especially, brought them extraordinary, almost enigmatic fame, since from their dark workshops coasts and maritime routes came plotted with great precision and beauty. The Cresques family is the most representative.
But al1 this came to an end in 1391. The pogroms which had started on the mainland spread to Mallorca and led to the sack of the Call. Hundreds of Jews were murdered by an angry mob who blamed them for all the island's ills. It was the beginning of the end for the community, since the majority of the survivors either converted to Christianity or fled. Nevertheless, the Jewish quarter refused to disappear and during subsequent decades was repopulated by Jews from other places. But violence broke out again in 1435, causing a second, definitive conversion. Once again their collective history faced them with the dilemma of renouncing their faith or dying. There was only one answer, and the Jews were baptized en masse. And so the Jewish "problem" was resolved in Mallorca -only apparently, as we shall see- long before the Catholic Monarchs' final solution. The expulsion of 1492 had no effect on the island. No-one was inconvenienced or forced to flee: officially, at least, there were no Jews there. The calm was not to last long. The arrival of the Inquisition in 1478 set a new -and bloody- trap: that of the converted Jews, or xuetes. Because the conversion had been forced, there was always the suspicion that, inwardly, the new Christians continued faithful to Judaism. The result was that during the Counter-Reformation, in the seventeenth century, the autos-da-fé against the converts provided a lavish and all-too-frequent spectacle. The consequences were the burning alive of various suspects, as well as lesser punishments -imprisonment and whipping- and the confiscation of properties.
Al1 of this contributed to the creation of a ghetto. Judaic practices were attributed to severa1 families -fifteen, in all-, who became the object of popular derision. Segregation -on an externa1 level and endogamy -internally- have marked the development of this group down to this day. Enclosed in the old Cal1 menor, they developed a jewellery industry which was and still is the occupation most characteristic of the converts' descendants: the Carrer de la Argenteria (Silversmiths Street) in Palma is an illustration of this. In fact, for many years, the "Pure Blood Statutes" made the guilds inaccessible to the xuetes, who were therefore excluded from a number of trades. Following the abolition of the Statutes by Charles III in 1778, it was the discriminating attitude of the rest of the Majorcans that maintained the segregation. As a result of this their expertise in silver and gold reached new heights. Almost paradoxically, the best examples of their art are to be found in religious silver-and goldware, and especially in the monstrances. This silvenvare, in its lesser manifestations, also reached the towns and villages which the marxandos, or Jewish merchants, visited on Sundays, holidays and market days to sell the objects they manufactured, amongst which were sets of buttons and laces for the country women. Al1 this is changing now: the jewellers no longer visit the towns in the country and there are many people in Palma who have opened jeweller's shops and are not xuetes. Here we see reflected a tradition that has started to disappear, though in this case it is also the result of an unjust, odious discrimination which, luckily, with the younger generations, is coming to an end.
XUETES, THE HISTORY OF THE
CONVERTED JEWS OF MALLORCA
Holidays in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera
The history of the converted Jews, is one of the darkest and surprising chapters in the history of Mallorca. Surprising, because an event taking place in the fifteenth century, led to the discrimination and stigmatization of a group in the Mallorcan society, until mid-twentieth century.
In 1435 Mallorca’s Jews were forced to convert to Christianity, and this was the year in which Judaism formally ended on the island. The fact that these conversions didn’t respond to a religious belief, paved the way for these new converts to continue secretly with the practices of the Jewish religion. For this reason, they were pursued by the Spanish Inquisition with more or less intensity over the next centuries.
It is not until the end of the seventeenth century that we can begin to talk about the Xuetes, also called Xuetons, as the Mallorcans descendants of Jews converted to Christianity, who at the end of the seventeenth century were prosecuted and sentenced by the Inquisition, for having practised the Jewish faith, which also carried one of the fifteen names considered by the rest of the island descendants from Jews. Paradoxically, in Mallorca has been proved the existence of more than two hundred names of Jewish descent, but only the holders of these fifteen names suffered social rejection. Specifically these family manes are: Aguiló, Bonnín, Cortès, Forteza, Fuster, Martí, Miró, Picó, Pinya, Pomar, Segura, Valls, Valentí, Valleriola and Tarongí.
The Xuetes in Mallorca have formed a discriminated social group, forced inbreeding to the point that it has been demonstrated their genetic differentiation, compared to the rest of Mallorca. In addition, the vast majority of them have lived in the vicinity of the Carrer del Segell in Palma, today with the name of Jaume II in the old quarter of the city. They have identified themselves as people from the carrer (street in Catalan), referring to the street mentioned above, as the words Xueta or Xueto are considered offensive, synonymous with greedy in the colloquial Catalan of Mallorca. Despite its indisputable Catholicism, the church itself discriminated them until the twentieth century. In fact, they were forced into professions for which they were accepted as traders and jewellers, which in many cases let them enjoy a good economic situation.
The reasons for this social rejection are difficult to understand, but returning to the convictions of the Inquisition to the practitioners of the banned faith, in the seventeenth century. Among other penalties, which at least had to stay for two generations of convicts family members, was the ban on holding public office, become priests or marry people who were not xuetes. Apparently the habit, within the small society of Mallorca, led to these sentences to be kept far beyond what it had been stipulated.
Currently it can be said that the Xueta issue in Mallorca is over, and discrimination is already part of the past. A very recent past, that has not prevented the emergence of associations dedicated to the recovery of the memory and legacy of the Jews in Mallorca.
CHUETAS OF MAJORCA RECOGNIZED AS JEWISH
JEREMY SHARON. Jerusalem Post, 07/12/2011
Descendants of secret Jews are "from our brethren the children of Israel," Rabbi Nissim Karlewitz rules.
A leading rabbi and halachic authority in Israel has recognized the Chuetas of Palma de Majorca as Jewish, the Shavei Israel organization announced on Monday.
The Chuetas are descended from the Jewish inhabitants of the Spanish island of Majorca who suffered extreme oppression in the Middle Ages, until by 1435 all of them had been killed or forcibly converted to Catholicism.
Because the Chuetas are related to the previous generations and married among themselves they should be considered Jewish, Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund told reporters that Rabbi Nissim Karlewitz, chairman of the Beit Din Tzedek (rabbinical court) in Bnei Brak, wrote in a letter to the organization.
“Since it has become clear that it is accepted among them [the Chuetas] that throughout the generations most of them married among themselves, then all those who are related to the former generations are Jews, from our brethren the children of Israel, the nation of God,” Karlewitz wrote.
“We, the Jewish people, have a responsibility to the Chuetas,” Freund told The Jerusalem Post. “Their ancestors were kidnapped from us and taken against their will six centuries ago. The Inquisition sought to quash their Jewish identity down through the ages and we are coming here today to say that the Inquisition did not succeed. Jews are still here and the Chuetas are still here, and the best revenge on the Inquisition would be to bring as many of these people as possible back to their roots and back to their people.”
Despite having been converted, the Chuetas – whose name comes from the Catalan word for pig – continued to face intense discrimination and oppression, and were not allowed to marry Catholics or adopt certain professions. Because of the ban on intermarriage, the Chuetas almost exclusively married within their own community.
“Although there is no actual discrimination any longer against Chuetas, on a societal level many feel ostracized and to a certain extent outsiders,” Freund said. “Acceptance of the Chuetas over the past 40 years has grown, which is positive, but brings with it a greater danger of assimilation, which is why the timing of this announcement is so important.”
Karelitz’s decision refers to the Chuetas as a collective, and for anyone wanting to return in full to the Jewish community it will be necessary for a rabbinical court to speak with the individual. According to Freund, many of the Chuetas have documentation attesting to their family lines, often going back 500 years.
“There are 15 distinct Chueta family names. Because of the historical circumstances and because of the endogamy practices, it is relatively easy to document and prove their genealogy,” Freund said.
In May, the president of the Balearic Islands province of Spain, Francesc Antich, attended a memorial service in the Majorcan capital of Palma commemorating the execution in 1691 of 37 Chuetas for practicing Judaism in secret, including Rabbi Rafael Valls, the secret rabbi of the Chuetas who, along with two others, was burned alive. Antich condemned the “grave injustice” done against the Chuetas, the first time an official from Majorca had condemned such events.
“The recognition of their Jewishness was received with great happiness and joy, some people at the announcement burst into tears, because they now know the Jewish people are aware of them and feel a kinship with them,” Freund said of the press conference on Monday.
A Mallorcan, Rabbi Nissan Ben-Avraham returned to Spain in 2010 after being ordained as a rabbi in Israel. He works for Shavei Israel in Palma de Majorca, will be joining with the Arachim outreach organization to provide a program of lessons in Hebrew, Jewish history, culture and religion for the Chuetas.
“We are not coming here to tell people how to live their lives, we are just presenting them with an option. Those who wish to return to the Jewish people will now have opportunity to do so and will be welcomed back with open arms. Our goal is to help as many as possible to return to their Jewish roots.
When Minorca became a British possession in 1713, they actively encouraged the immigration of foreign non-Catholics, which included Jews who were not accepted by the predominantly Christian inhabitants. When the Jewish community in Mahon requested the use of a room as a synagog, their request was refused and they were denounced by the clergy. In 1781, when Louis des Balbes de Berton de Crillon, duc de Mahon invaded Minorca, he ordered all Jews to leave in four days. 500 people were transported from Minorca in four Spanish ships to the port of Marseilles.
The church discriminated against them until the twentieth century. The Chuetes/Xuetes/Xuetons issue is now over and there are associations dedicated to their legacy. The association ARCA-Llegat Jueu ("Jewish Legacy"), the investigative group Memòria del Carrer, the religious group Institut Rafel Valls, the magazine Segell and the city of Palma has joined the Red de Juderias de España, ("Network of Spanish Jewries" Spanish cities with a historic Jewish presence) — altogether implying the passing of an attitude of occultation in favor of the expression of a plural reality that is naturally manifest.
Today, they comprise a population of 20,000–25,000 on an island of 750,000; they have professed Roman Catholicism for centuries but have only recently seen a lessening in ethnic tensions with ethnic Majorcans. According to some Orthodox rabbis, the majority of Xuetes are probably Jewish under Jewish law (by descent from Jewish mothers) probably due to the low rate of intermarriage with outside groups. Only recently have intermarriages between the two groups been more prevalent or noticeable.
During World War II, Nazi Germany was known to have pressured Majorcan religious authorities into surrendering the Xuetes, targeted because of their Jewish ancestry. Reportedly the religious authorities refused the Nazi request.
Several Xuetes are reported to have "reconverted" to Judaism. Some have
Hidden for generations, a community of Spanish Jews explores its roots
Haaretz Oct. 25, 2012
Mallorca's Jews Get Their Due, Forward, Sarah Wildman, April 13 2012
CLICK BUTTON TO GO TO SECTION
The Chuetes/Xuetes/Xuetons of Palma de Mallorca
Shavei Israel (9.58)
The Hidden Jews of Majorca/Mallorca
Mallorca is the Catalan name, Majorca the Spanish Name of the biggest Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. Catalan, is widely spoken in Andoran, south of France and North East Spain
The term ‘Chuetas’ is used in Spanish, ‘ Xuetas’ in Catalan. Pronunciation is the same, only the spelling is different. (from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080418115034AAE0GXS)
In 418 Bishop Sever of Menorca issued an encyclical of the miraculous event that had led to the mass conversion to Christianity of Menorca's Jewish community who had converted to avoid the consequences of not converting.
The Catalan conquest of 1229 saw their return to Minorca. They developed their own municipal organisation and quarter (Call) with closed gates at night to prevent anyone from entering or leaving. Life was governed by Mosaic (Jewish) law with Hebrew for documents. They worked as traders, moneylenders, cartographers and labourers.
The Spanish pogroms of 1391 led to the sack of the Call. Hundreds were murdered by a mob who blamed them for the island's problems. Survivors either converted to Christianity or fled. Later other Jews repopulated the Call. Violence recurred in 1435, causing Jews to be baptized en masse. The arrival of the Inquisition in 1478 or 1488 saw many converts fined. Some were executed and limited as to where they could live.
Judaic practices were attributed to fifteen families who became the object of popular derision. They practiced intermarriage and developed a jewellery industry.
By the end of the seventeenth century the Chuetes/Xuetes/Xuetons were viewed as the Mallorcans descendants of Jews were prosecuted and sentenced by the Inquisition for practising Judaism. As a social group forced inbreeding was demonstrated by their genetic differentiation as compared to the rest of Mallorca.
The British captured Mallorca in 1713 and settled some Jews there. It was retaken by the Spanish in 1781. All Jews were ordered to leave in four days. About 500 people were transported in four Spanish ships to Marseilles.
Today, they comprise a population of 20,000–25,000 on an island of 750,000. During World War II, Nazi Germany pressured Majorcan religious authorities into surrendering the Xuetes, because of their Jewish ancestry. Reportedly the religious authorities refused the Nazi request.
The church discriminated against them until the twentieth century. The Chuetes/Xuetes/Xuetons issue is now over and there are associations dedicated to their legacy.
STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE