Spanish city gathers descendants of Jews named after it
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Spanish city gathers descendants of Jews named after it

Marchena looks to reconnect with its Jewish history by reuniting foreigners whose families were exiled by Inquisition

Illustrative: Spanish Jews celebrate Hanukkah in Madrid, December 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Illustrative: Spanish Jews celebrate Hanukkah in Madrid, December 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

JTA — In a bid to reconnect with its Jewish history, the city of Marchena in southern Spain organized an international reunion for foreigners named after it.

The two-day gathering will begin Friday in the city of about 40,000 residents near Sevilla. Organizers assume that foreigners whose last names contain the city’s name are predominantly descendants of Sephardic Jews who left the area during the Spanish Inquisition to escape that campaign of religious persecution by the Church, the Spanish news site ABC reported Thursday.

A non-profit called Sepharad-Legado Sefardí organized the event, “First Journeys for the Jewish and Sephardic Memory of Marchena,” along with the municipality. It was advertised on social media and on Spanish-language news sites.

Among those who accepted the invitation was Kenneth de Marchena, a Dutch Jew who was born on the Caribbean island of Curacao.

“How beautiful it is to be back in the city with our family name,” he wrote on Facebook about the trip. Kenneth de Marchena has spent years researching his ancestors’ life in the city, ABC reported.

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