Main Menu
Member's Journal
Contact Us
About us
Director Report 14-15
Contact Gloria

A Personal "Voyage of Discovery" to Tenerife

Adina Moryosef, associate director of Casa Shalom, was invited by Casa Shalom member Yael Cohen to accompany her to Spain to research her family in the diocesan archive in San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands. The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The various Canary Islands (especially the larger islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro) were an important destination or transit point for the thousands of secret Jews fleeing the Inquisition, as well as a necessary provisioning stop for longer voyages such as Columbus' travels to the New World.



 Image Image
 Casa Shalom member Yael Cohen, Canarian journalist Juan Manuel Valladares, and Casa Shalom associate director Adina Moryosef in La Laguna, Tenerife  Registering to research in the Diocesan Archives at La Laguna, Tenerife

Yael and Adina flew to Tenerife (a 3-1/2 hour flight from Madrid), finally arriving in 500-year-old town of San Cristobal de La Laguna, where the archives for four of the main Canary islands are held. Prior to going to the archives, they met with someone Pere Bonnín (author of the indispensible book, Sangre Judía and a great friend of Casa Shalom) had recommended to them to help with the research, Juan Manuel Valladares. Sr. Valladares is a local journalist who also writes for Aurora, the Spanish-language newspaper in Israel. Sr. Valladares discovered a very valuable fact about Yael's forebears, and gave them good advice about where to begin the research in the archives.

Image  Image
 Sign at the entrance to the Diocesan Archives of La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands The preserved mikva of Besalu, northeastern Spain

The diocesan archive are housed in a very old, beautifully restored building in the old part of town, and is only open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays for three hours each day, and the staff only allow in 14 people at a time to do research. It was an amazing experience for them to see the original ink and handwriting of some priest or other cleric who recorded the christening, marriage and other records of the various townships in the eastern Canaries.

Apart from researching, Yael and Adina also took the ferry from Santa Cruz de Tenerife to another island, Gran Canaria, home of the Museo Canaria, where the Inquisition archives are held (but are not open to the public). While there, they learned that a researcher can submit a written request (in person) and the document will be ready to view in three to four days. Adina and Yael also visited the excellent Columbus Museum, which features many replicas of navigational instruments and maps used during his era (many of course designed by crypto-Jews) and a partial model of the Niña, one of the ships on Columbus' maiden voyage to the New World.

Thus, thanks to this personal voyage of discovery for Yael, Casa Shalom now has very important contacts in the Canary Islands. It was a very fruitful trip, and gave Yael much more information to help her complete her (very involved) family tree.


 A street in the Call (old Jewish quarter) of Barcelona

[A full account of the trip will be published in the next Casa Shalom Journal, scheduled for publication in December 2013. Please insure that your membership is current so you can receive the Journal]


< Prev   Next >
Latest News
   Home arrow News arrow Latest arrow A Personal "Voyage of Discovery" to Tenerife