Introduction / History
The Jews of Europe arrived on the continent at least 2,000 years ago during the early days of the Roman Empire. Since then, they have been a significant influence in the history and culture of Europe. Much of what is considered "Jewish" today finds its roots among the European Jews.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Jews represent the oldest monotheistic religion of modern times. Because of the uniqueness of their history and culture, all Jews have a strong sense of identity. Persecution of and discrimination against the Jews have been the historical reasons for their migrations and settlements around the world.
There was a time when Spain was home to a thriving Jewish community. Jewish people were greatly contributing to Spain's culture and economy. Some called it a Golden Age for the Jewish community. Most of these Jews spoke Ladino. This is a dialect of Castilian Spanish with Hebrew and Turkish elements. Then came the Alhambra Decree in 1492, which gave Spain's Jewish population the choice of conversion to Roman Catholicism, expulsion or death. A small number remained in Spain and "converted" to the Catholic religion. Most of them left the country often settling in Mexico or South America.
On October 1, 2015, Spanish legislators passed a bill that allowed Jewish people (known as Sephardic Jews) the "Right of Return" after their ancestors were expelled 500 years ago. Spain is welcoming the descendants of these Jewish people back to their country.
What Are Their Beliefs?
With increased anti-Semitism in some South American countries, Turkey and France, it's possible that the number of Spanish speaking Jewish people to return to Spain will increase. Much of this depends on the waves of persecution they experience in various Spanish speaking countries. As it stands, there is still a small Spanish speaking community in Spain, mainly centered in Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga.
For religious Jews, God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, and the ultimate judge of human affairs. Beyond this, the religious beliefs of the Jewish communities vary greatly. Orthodox Jews generally follow the traditional religious beliefs and practices found in the Jewish literature that interprets Scripture regarding ethical, religious, civil, and criminal matters.
What Are Their Needs?
Reform Jews do not believe that the Jewish Law is divinely revealed. They are not restricted to kosher foods. They neither wear the skullcap (yarmulke) when praying nor use Hebrew in prayer. All religious Jews believe in the coming of a Messianic Age, but only the Orthodox Jews look for a personal Messiah.
Many Jewish people today retain cultural Judaism, but they have rejected the spiritual elements taught in the Old Testament. They might participate in cultural events and even religious ceremonies, but they are either secular or New Age in their spiritual lives.
Jewish people have a wonderful understanding of their connection with the Abrahamic Covenant. However, they also have a history of rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah, the one who has fulfilled that covenant. They tend to view Christianity as the religion of their oppressors rather than the fulfillment of what God promised all of humanity through Abraham centuries ago. This is especially true for those in the Spanish speaking world.
Pray for the Lord to give the Jewish people in Spain hearts that will want to please him. May they look to the Lord for guidance and truth, and not be satisfied with cultural traditions.
Pray for Jewish people in Spain to begin a movement to Jesus Christ, finding ways to exalt him while honoring their culture.
Pray for the Lord to raise up loving, patient ambassadors to go to the Spanish speaking Jews in Spain.
Scripture Prayers for the Jew, Spanish-speaking in Spain.