So, some time between 1035 and 1627 C.E. (or A.D. if you prefer), the name of a Spanish town changed from Jews Hill to Kill Jews, and there’s an effort under way to change it back, according to the Associated Press.
“The tiny Spanish village of Castrillo Matajudios, whose second name means ‘Kill Jews,’ will hold a referendum next month to decide if it should change the name that offends outsiders and embarrasses some residents, its mayor said Tuesday,” A.P. reported.
On May 25, the village’s 56 registered voters will decide if they want to keep the name or change it “to the similar, but non-offensive name the town once had,” its Mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez Perez reportedly said.
The town’s original name was evidently Castrillo Motajudios, meaning “Jews Hill” and dates back to 1035 when 66 Jews were killed in a nearby town and those that fled or were expelled settled on the hill, according to A.P.
The town’s official shield includes the Star of David, the story notes.
“The earliest records found with the name changed to ‘Kill Jews’ is from 1627, more than a century after the 1492 edict by Spain’s royalty that required Jews to” convert to Christianity, leave the country, “or face being burned at the stake during the Spanish inquisition,” the story says.
Though Jews were killed in the area, A.P. reports some researchers believe the town got its offensive name from Conversos — Jews who converted to Catholicism and wanted to prove their un-Jewishness. Others think it might have resulted from a slip of the pen.
The idea of a referendum to rid the town of its embarrassing moniker grew from moves to document its Jewish past and attract tourists, according to the report.
“There are always the stories of people from here traveling to Israel with a passport that says Matajudios and wishing they didn’t have to show it,” Perez reportedly said.
Others just leave out the second name, he said. Perez reportedly said no Jews live in the town but, not surprisingly, many residents “have ancient Jewish roots.”
Come to think of it, the town mayor himself could be one of those, judging from his last name, which Geneology.com says can be a variation of the Sephardic Jewish surname, Peretz.
Earlier this year, Spain’s government apologized to world Jewry for its past transgressions (small things like killing, expelling and forcing to convert, hundreds of thousands of Jews, untold numbers of whom have completely lost their connection to their heritage) by offering citizenship to descendants of those who were forced to flee, which was very big of them. I don’t suppose they’re offering them their stuff back, or anything. I wonder if they’re doing any research to try and uncover those upon whom the dust of centuries in hiding have effectively erased the past.
It’s only taken, what, 600-some-odd years, to apologize and clean up little loose ends like this town’s disgusting name.
I guess love means only having to say you’re sorry if you’re hoping to attract some paying Jewish customers.
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