Inspired by the discovery of a letter written by a Spanish woman under the pseudonym of Marcelina de Quinto to Isaac Molho, editor of the Tesoro de los judíos sefardíes (Treasure of the Sephardic Jews), this article focuses on the persistence of memory of Jewish ancestry within a prominent family of Spanish intellectuals in the 20th century—the Jardiels—and its reenactment in two different generational contexts. While the literary oeuvre of Enrique Jardiel Poncela, one of the most important comic writers of twentieth-century Spain and a staunch supporter of Franco, is tainted by a resolute antisemitic bent, his daughter Evangelina, a psychologist and author of fictional books and journalistic essays, converted to Judaism and strongly identified with the struggles of the State of Israel. Through the analysis of the biographical and intellectual trajectories of these two individuals, the article casts light upon the stereotypes, contradictions and ambivalent attitudes of Spanish intellectuals regarding Jews and Judaism.
This essay focuses on the “Sephardic Portraits” of Daniel Quintero (Málaga 1949-), a leading Spanish figurative painter. In these paintings, composed over the last twenty-five years, Quintero portrays contemporary Sephardi figures alongside medieval and early modern Iberian Sephardi Jews. To provide a face to these historical figures (Maimonides, Samuel Halevi, Benjamin of Tudela, Gracia Mendes) Quintero finds inspiration in contemporary Spaniards. Alongside these portraits, a group of still lifes connect the past and present of Jewish Spain. Seen through the methodology of “curatorial dreaming” proposed by Shelley Ruth Butler and Erica Lehrer, these portraits and still lifes construct a genealogy and perform a particular cultural memory. They establish a relationship between a past that remains in the faces, gazes and gestures of those who forgot it and a present that works to make those traces visible through a re-engagement with the memory of Jewish Spain.