Does the city Lleida or Lerida, in Catalunya ring a bell for Sephardic researchers?
There were two Jewish neighborhoods in the town - Cuirassa and Cuirassola - some 140km northwest of Barcelona.
The Lleida community was virtually destroyed in the 1391 riots, massacres and mass forced conversions; an attempt to reconstitute it years later never got very far.
There were Jewish communities in nearby villages as well - such as Alfés - which has numerous buildings with six-pointed symbols - una estrella de 6 puntes - above their entrance doors (see photos at left and below right). Some scholars and historians believe that these symbols were substituted for the six-pointed magen david.
In Converso communities elsewhere in the world - such as in New Mexico (according to Dr. Stanley Hordes and other historians), similar images are carved on gravestones.
Lleida's archives, housed in the Cathedral, are a treasure trove of documents for those who may have a connection to the ancient Jewish community.
On my most recent visit to the archives - a few years ago - with my good friend and excellent researcher Maria Jose Surribas, they had just received a computer and, for the first time, were entering and cataloging thousands of documents.
Maria Jose discovered a TALALAY (TALAYA, TALAY - there are various spellings) document dated 1358 in the archives, and others in towns not far away. Research in Barcelona's Crown of Aragon archives turned up a few other mentions of the family through 1396.
There is a Jewish cultural society in Lleida - TARBUT Amics Lleidatans de la Cultura Hebrea - providing programming, talks and conferences focused on the Jewish community.
Just a few days go, on February 12, the group held a conference - The Jewish Community of Lleida in the Middle Ages: Between 'Convivencia' and Segregation" - announced by Dr. Joan J. Busqueta, Faculty of Letters, University of Lleida.
For more information on Tarbut, visit the site at the link above, although it is mostly in Catalan.