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Daroca, Spain

DAROCA, city in Saragossa province, N.E. Spain. During the period of Muslim rule the Jewish quarter of Daroca was situated on the slope of Mt. San Jorge at the eastern approach to the valley, with the Jewish cemetery nearby. After the reconquest of Daroca by Alfonso I of Aragon in 1122 Jews were granted the same rights as the Christian and Muslim residents in a fuero ("municipal charter"), endorsed by Count Ramon Berenguer IV in 1142. The Daroca community flourished during the 13th century. In 1210 the Jews of Daroca were exempted by Pedro II from paying certain tolls, notably those levied on entry to and exit from Moorish territory. An injunction was issued by James II in 1312 to stay the sale of property of Jews in Daroca under arrest for debt. The arrest of Jews on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays was also prohibited. Accusations were rife in 1321 that the Jews had poisoned the wells. Regulations concerning the institution and observance of the Jewish *oath in Daroca were introduced by Alfonso IV in 1330; the deponent was required to take the oath at the entrance to the synagogue, holding the Torah scroll, in the presence of three Christian witnesses only.

During the outbreaks of 1391 peasants in the neighborhood joined in the attacks on the Jews in Daroca and tried to force them to accept baptism. Although the king extended his protection to the community, only 27 taxpaying Jewish families remained in Daroca by 1398. The massacres of 1391 brought disaster to the Jews of Daroca. The Church increased its pressure on the survivors. The recovery was slow, but never complete. At the beginning of the 15th century the community of Daroca, like many others in the Crown of Aragon, was under great pressure from Christian society. The town physician at that time was Salamon Alconstantin. Joseph *Albo served as rabbi in Daroca and represented it at the disputation of *Tortosa in 1413–14, when the Jewish community was again attacked by the townspeople. By June 1414 many of the rabbinic figures of the Aragonese communities gave in and converted. Joseph Albo was one of the very few who had the courage and strength to withstand the Christians' pressure and remain Jewish. After the disputation, about 110 of the most eminent and affluent members of the Daroca Jewish community adopted Christianity. Under pressure of the Church many who belonged to the upper class, the mano mayor, converted. On Aug. 20, 1414, the apostates were exempted from communal fiscal liabilities by Ferdinand I. Subsequently the townsfolk of Daroca threatened to expel the remaining Jews unless they adopted Christianity; the municipal authorities seized a number of Jewish debtors on the pretext that they had been trying to abscond. The bailiff then proceeded to arrest all the Jews en masse. A number of the Jews let themselves down from the city walls by rope at night and made their escape. Of the 40 Jewish families, some 160 to 180 people, who had been living in Daroca, only nine or ten persons then remained, all in prison. Their names are known thanks to a trial initiated in January 1426. Following the mass conversion in Daroca and the flight of many Jews, a large part of the communal property and ritual objects were longer of any use. Some of the objects were put on sale. Some Jews of Daroca settled on baronial lands, such as Epila and Montalbán, or in villages in the surroundings of Daroca, Cariñena, Luco, and Anento. Some time after April 1414, the community or aljama ceased to exist as a juridical body. Joseph Albo left for Soria, in Castile. It seems that the majority of those who retained there Judaism came from the lower class of craftsmen.

The state of affairs evidently improved, however, and as result of Jewish immigration to the town, in 1458 the limits of the Jewish quarter were defined by John II in order to prevent Jews living alongside Christians. The Jewish community was living side by side with the Conversos, who were already showing signs of reverting to Judaism. In 1484 Ferdinand II issued a directive permitting Jews to be summoned to give evidence before the *Inquisition in cases where Conversos were accused of Judaizing. Jewish property in Daroca was looted after the issue of the edict of expulsion of the Jews from Spain in March 1492. By August the synagogue and hospital had been sold along with other Jewish communal property.

Sources:Ashtor, Korot, 2 (1966), 166; H.C. Lea, History of the Inquisition in Spain, 1 (1904), 547; Baer, Urkunden, index; Baer, Studien, 132, 148; Baer, Spain, index; López de Meneses, in: Sefarad, 14 (1954), 108; Cabezudo Astrain, ibid., 15 (1955), 107; Estéban Abad, in: Teruel (1959), 215–22, 361–72, 387–92; M.A. Motis Dolader, in: Proceedings of 10th WCJS, Division B, vol. 2 (1990), 143–50

[Haim Beinart / Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]

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