On this occasion, we have the great pleasure of interviewing Marta Puig, General Manager of Red de Juderías, an non profit public association with the goal of protect urbanistic, architectonical, historical, artistic and cultural Sephardic Heritage, that brings together municipalities and institutions to promote Jewish heritage in Spain. In this sense, it coordinates at the national level the European Days of Jewish Culture in Spain, a country that is one of the pillars of this project in relation to the great participation and historical journey of this project.
AEPJ: Marta, how you would define the historical overview of the European Cultural Days in Spain?
Marta Puig: As you pointed out Spain, mostly through the cities of the Red de Juderías has historically participated very actively in the European Cultural Days. Having a look at the Reports, thousands people from more than 20 cities participated last year, but it is being a great success since the beginning in our country because of our Association. Working as a net makes it easy to launch certain projects. And this is the main goal among of our objectives: Getting people involved, means knowledge, means interest, means respect towards the culture we promote. So there is still a lot of work to do to increase these figures, and trying t make these days more known.
AEPJ: What is the role that plays as a window to the Spanish Jewish heritage and history?
Marta: Its round trip. The Spanish Jewish heritage and history is huge, so it makes it easy and gives extra sense to organize activities around it, but on the other hand it is true that many people gets to know the heritage, and therefore the history of their own cities because of the programmed activities. They had no idea about the Jewish past and the valuable heritage around. That is why Red de Juderías has many activities going on during the whole year long, not only on the European Days. Music Festivals, Book presentations, promotional activities and of course starting to focus on social media promotion.
AEPJ: Last year, during the European Days of Jewish Culture, just in Spain, involved 24 cities with a participation of 35,000 people. These are huge figures for a cultural project. What are your future perspectives on the Day, is there room for further growth? Do you think that there is a need to establish strategies at European level or is it very difficult to take into account the diversity of different national realities?
Marta: I agree those are huge figures, but I believe we can easily making them grow. We feel the interest towards the Jewish Culture is growing each year among the Spanish citizens, so that will make cities schedule more and better activities, also there are some more cities that should join the project too. Finally if we dedicate more efforts promoting the European Days I am confident we will increase those figures.Culture and History should be above national or regional realities and that is why European strategies are so important, among other facts, they bring cities working together on certain items and gives institutional support and visibility to minorities.
AEPJ: Talk us a bit about Routes of Sefarad, this amazing interactive multimedia experience to discover and get involved with the Sephardic heritage.
Marta: Each day more and more people loves to visit on their own, and having to do with Heritage and Cultural routes, we recommend to read and prepare a little bit the experience. On our website you will find an space for each of the cities, with a video, but also with a map, made by Google, with the spaces and some history of them ?. But the best explanation is to visit the web.
AEPJ: Some 350,000 Jewish tourists from Israel alone visit Spain annually, though most are believed to stay in Barcelona and other large cities. Many Israelis in Madrid visit a former synagogue in Toledo that is among Spain?s most popular museums, with some 300,000 visitors annually, half of them locals. What are your challenges for the future?
Marta Puig: On this 2018 we are focus on the local market. We want people visiting our cities the whole year long, on weekends, and bank holidays. And of course promoting not only the well known cities but those other small and charming villages of our net.
AEPJ: Speaking in European terms, how do you value the state of European Jewish culture? Do you think we can talk about a revival?
Marta: 100% yes, from my personal experience I am surprised of the increasing interest of it. And, for example, that is why more cities have already expressed their interest to join our Association.