Monday, October 25, 2010

Dona Gracia - Ahead of Her Time

From the Jerusalem Post:
Once the wealthiest woman in the world, Dona Gracia planned to establish an autonomous Jewish community in Tiberias.

The museum conducts weekend seminars about the life and times of Dona Gracia whose story fired Cohen's imagination to the extent that she pushed for the Education Ministry to include the study of Dona Gracia in school curricula. Tzvi Tzameret, the Chairman of the Education Ministry's Pedagogic Secretariat, agreed that it was high time for Dona Gracia to come out of the mothballs of the distant past. The upshot is that Israeli high school students as well as soldiers in the IDF will now learn of her plans to establish an autonomous Jewish community in Tiberias, which from the second to the tenth centuries was the largest Jewish city in the Galilee, and a great seat of Jewish learning.

The 500th anniversary of Dona Gracia's birth was celebrated on Sunday at Beit Hanassi in the presence of President Shimon Peres, Israel's fifth President Yitzhak Navon, who heads the National Authority for Ladino, is a former Education Minister and is descended on both sides from long lines of Sephardi rabbis, Education Minister Gideon Saar, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch among a host of dignitaries.

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