Spanish Tel Aviv Celebrates: No Rain in Spain
Well of course it rains in Spain, but on Tuesday evening at the elegant ambassadorial residence of the Spanish Envoy to Israel, His Excellency Ambassador Fernando Carderera and his wife Victoria, the weather was perfect. (In a pleasant courtesy to the guests, small Spanish fans were available.) The garden setting was beautifully decorated. As enormous floral arrangement in the Spanish national colors adorned the overhead balustrade. The swimming pool was graced with a giant flag of Spain, perfectly centered. All the waitstaff wore sashes in Spanish brocade, and on each table, bunches of tiny roses to add to the effect. Even the paper napkins were embossed with the Spanish Crown. The atmosphere was enhanced by background music; melodies from guitarist Noa Drezner, a Spanish-Israeli flamenco musician. A great start to a great event.
Guests mingled happily as Spanish “tapas” were served, together with sparkling wine (the famous “Freixenet”), St. Miguel beer and a choice of regular wines and soft drinks. Israel is apparently an important enough market, because two sales directors from Freixenet came from Spain to be at the party. Other guests included members of the diplomatic corps, socialites, educators and the cream of the Spanish and Israeli business community. Among the guests: Prof. Aviva Doron
Professor of Literature and head of the Research Unit for the Cultures of Spain at University of Haifa, Spanish-born Prof. Alfred Tovias of the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Micha Harish and Moshé Shoham, respectively President and Director the Israel-Spain Chamber of Commerce, Gideon Thaler of TAL Aviation (representing Air Europa in Israel), Israeli Chief of Protocol Meron Reuben, Evgeny Piskunov of the Russian Embassy, and many others.
The traditional tapas included tortilla, chorizo, “Jamon Iberico” (specially flown in for the occasion), churros, cheeses and more. Guests observing “kashrut” were catered for in a special section, a reflection on the importance the Spanish Embassy places on the Judaism rooted in Spain.
In fact, in his very brief welcoming remarks, after first expressing “ … our heartfelt condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims of the recent terrorist attacks”, His Excellency Ambassador Carderera then mentioned: “ … an important event: the new Law granting Spanish Nationality to the Sephardim, became effective a few days ago. There is an extraordinary tale behind the Sephardim. It’s a tale about people that were expelled from Spain in the XV Century. They left Spain, but kept Spain with them. They lived in Turkey, or in Morocco, or in Latin America, and yet every mother and every father, for five hundred years, would teach their kids the Ladino language, the songs, the recipes. And the kids would tell their kids, for generations. Today, 523 years later, the Sephardim stay true to their Spanish origin.
With this law, Spain gives back [to] the sons and daughters of Sepharad their right to be full Spanish citizens. This law opens the door that was closed a long time ago and welcomes them back. We are seeing a lot of interest in Israel, and we hope many will benefit from it. … The Government of Spain has just announced that all applications that were submitted before this law have been resolved … more than 4,300 Sephardim have just been granted Spanish nationality. We will be very happy to receive many of them at the Embassy and to give them their Spanish passports”.
The Ambassador also added a few words in Hebrew, much to the delight of the assembled guests. He ended with: “I now have the pleasure to invite you to join Minister [Avi Gabai] and myself in a toast to the long life and wellbeing of our Heads of State, His Excellency President Reuven Rivlin and His Majesty King Felipe the Sixth of Spain, as well as to our mutual friendship”.
Israel’s Minister for Environmental Protection responded on behalf of the Government and the people of Israel. The Minister noted that Spain and Israel share many aspects in common and that “ … in January 2016, the two countries will mark 30 years of diplomatic relations ... In this period our diplomatic relations have become more and more intense”. He noted too the business sector cooperation, including in mobile and communications, energy, cyber security and water. “Israel is particularly proud of its long standing participation in the annual media exhibition in Barcelona. About 100 Israeli companies took part in the event this year”.
He added: “As the minister of Environmental Protection I can say that this partnership and cooperation is especially important in the field of environmental protection. Spain and Israel are both Mediterranean countries. And as such we all know how important role the Mediterranean coastal areas play as strategic fields for the harmonic and sustainable development of territories and people of the Mediterranean area. Based on our shared past, our common characteristics as two western but also Mediterranean countries and above all our deep commitment to future cooperation, I am confident that the relations between our two nations will continue to flourish and grow. I wish you all happy Festa Naçional d' España.”
The national anthems of Spain and Israel were played, and guests went on to enjoy a “Tablao Flamenco”. Dancing, singing, music. A tablao (colloquial term for the Spanish "tablado", or floorboard) is a place where flamenco shows are performed. Developed during the 1960s throughout Spain, replacing the "cafés cantantes" (cabarets).
Photos by Silvia G Golan