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Spanish Town Votes to Change Anti-Jewish Name

Residents of Spanish town vote to change the town’s name which includes the phrase "Kill Jews."
By AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 5/26/2014, 4:15 AM

Spain (illustration)
Spain (illustration)
Reuters

Residents in a tiny Spanish town voted on Sunday to ditch the town’s name - Castrillo Matajudios, or Castrillo Kill Jews.

According to AFP, the residents voted 29-19 in favor of scrapping the northern Spanish town's name, in existence since at least 1623. An announcement on the vote was made last month.

The town’s mayor, Lorenzo Rodriguez, told AFP that they decided instead to take on a less offensive, older name for the town, Mota de Judios, or Hill of the Jews.

The town hall will review the vote on June 3 before launching the paperwork for a new name, a process that could take from six months to a year, said Rodriguez.

"When the change is approved I think it will be a turning point," said the mayor, who led the movement to change names and had threatened to resign if residents disagreed.

The decision should bring an end to the embarrassment of locals, who frequently found themselves trapped into giving awkward explanations to outraged outsiders.

"When you travel elsewhere, you always have to explain, because people say, 'You kill Jews in Castrillo',"  Rodriguez told AFP.

"It makes no sense because we are descended from a Jewish community. We have a star of David on our coat of arms," he added.

He said the town, which lies near the city of Burgos, was born in 1035 as a safe haven to a persecuted Jewish community, which settled on a hill, or Mota, in the area.

They remained there until 1492 when Jews were mostly expelled by a brutal religious tribunal known as the Spanish Inquisition.

Only Jews who converted to the Roman Catholic faith were allowed to stay in Spain. The alternative was expulsion or death.

Archaeologist Angel Palomino told AFP it was thought descendants of Jews who had converted to Roman Catholicism decided to change the town's name during the Counter-Reformation so as to prove the purity of their faith.

Up to 1,500 people likely lived in the Jewish settlement that later became known as Castrillo Matajudios, he said.

Although estimates vary, historians believe at least 200,000 Jews lived in Spain before the 1492 expulsion. Many who refused to convert or leave were burned at the stake.

Spain now offers citizenship to Sephardic Jews - those originating from the Iberian peninsula - who can prove they are descended from those who were expelled.

Spain has made some shows of repentance for its atrocious history of anti-Semitism. Last December, the Spanish Duke of Medina Sidonia presented a document of apology to the Jewish community of Gibraltar for the atrocities committed during the 1474-1476 expulsion of the Jewish community.

Despite the signs of rapprochement, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner and other senior rabbis in Israel forbid Jews from taking the Spanish citizenship being offered in the new gesture, saying the move may be a political ruse to "make up for" the Inquisition and expulsion of Jews, which should not be forgiven.