Author Archives: Elana Rebitzer

The Lilith Blog

February 19, 2019 by

The Thrill—and the Pain—of Exploring Córdoba’s Lost Jewish Treasures

Arriving in Córdoba last month with my study-abroad cohort, I felt like I’d landed in a Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 1.36.03 PMmedieval fairy tale. As my classmates and I walked across the bridge separating the main road from the town, we passed a castle, a swamp, and a bustling market full of people dressed in full Renaissance garb. After years of studying the literature and philosophy of the Jews of Córdoba, I couldn’t believe that I was finally seeing the city in real life. Walking down the streets, I snapped photo after photo of the white-painted buildings, getting increasingly excited as we moved through the judería towards the old synagogue, noticing landmarks that until then I’d only been able to imagine. It felt like the books I’d studied had come to life in front of me. Soon, we found ourselves in front of a small gate, blocked by a guard who waved our tour group into the synagogue area. 

But when I walked into the small chapel, seeing the partially destroyed verses from the Psalms on the walls and the tiny gold menorah in the entrance, my giddy excitement turned to anger. Anger that this small room was almost all that was left of a massive and influential Jewish community. Anger at our tour guide for glossing over the history of the Inquisition and Expulsion, and for not mentioning why one wall of the synagogue had a giant cross painted over it. And anger that, in the minds of the countless tourists who passed through Córdoba each day, the Jewish community would be reduced to a destroyed synagogue and a single statue of Maimonides. As we exited the building into the blazing sun, Córdoba seemed more like a place of disillusionment than the culmination of my studies I’d hoped for.

 

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The Lilith Blog

November 15, 2018 by

What Happens in the Real World Stays There

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While at summer camp, my campers aren’t allowed to have their phones on them. There are a multitude of reasons for our no-phone policy, but high among them is that we “disconnect to reconnect.” By removing internet access from our campers, we staffers create an immersive environment that can’t easily be affected by the happenings of the outside world. Even though staff members do have access to our phones, we have collectively agreed not to share with our children whatever information we learn.

If a counselor is having a bad day, that information ideally stays among the staff. This way, in the interest of allowing the campers to focus on having a fun and fulfilling summer, we create a world where news from the outside world, from celebrity engagements to mass shootings, does not penetrate.

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