Wednesday, June 10, 2009

American Jewish community upset over excavation of a burial site in Toledo

Members of the American Jewish community are upset over excavations of a medieval cemetary that are taking place in the Spanish city of Toledo. The Jewish cemetary was discovered in the 1970s during the construction of a school, and now that the school is being expanded, the remaining portion of the cemetary is being excavated and the remains reburied.

Although a spokesman for the Spanish Foreign Ministry said the regional government in Toledo had reached an agreement with local Jewish representatives over re-burying the remains, this has upset several American Jewish organizations, who believe that the act violates their religious traditions.

The situation has led American Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to call upon the U.S. State Department to act to stop the move.

Senator Schumer stated, "It is essential that this historic Jewish cemetery in Spain is not destroyed and that a solution forged that recognizes the religious tradition of these long-deceased Spanish citizens. Toledo was a center of Jewish life in medieval Spain and there is inherent value in remembering and honoring this rich part of Spanish history. The history that can be found in this one site is astonishing and to move the cemetery without forging a religiously acceptable alternative is very poor judgment. I urge the U.S. State Department to work with the Spanish government to prevent further action until a sensible solution is hammered out."