Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Virtual Jewish World: Lucena, Spain

LUCENA, town in Andalusia, in S. Spain, S. of Córdoba; important Jewish community in the 11th century. During the period of Muslim rule Lucena was famous as "the entirely Jewish city," and a tradition states that it was founded by Jews. Several prominent families, including that of the historian Abraham Ibn Daud , claimed that their settlement in Lucena dated from the time of Nebuchadnezzar. Isaac Abrabanel linked the derivation of the name of the town with the biblical town of Luz. Until the 12th century Lucena was a cultural center of Andalusian Jewry. In 853 Natronai Gaon wrote "that Alisana (Arabic for Lucena) was a Jewish place with no gentiles at all." In another responsum the gaon asked, "Is there a gentile who prohibits your activities? Why do you not establish an eruv ḥaẓerot? " (Teshuvot Ge'onei Mizraḥ u-Ma'arav (1888), para. 26).

The 12th-century Arab geographer Idrīsī also commented on the Jewish character of Lucena and stated that while Muslims lived outside the city walls, Jews generally lived in the fortified part within the walls. Menahem b. Aaron ibn Zerah reports the same information at the end of the 14th century (Ẓeidah la-Derekh (Ferrara, 1554), 150). The Jews earned their living from olive groves, vineyards, agriculture, commerce, and crafts. Lucena was distinguished by its scholars. In the mid-ninth century Amram Gaon sent his prayer book in response to a question by a scholar of Lucena. His contemporary Eleazar b. Samuel Ḥurga of Lucena received the titles alluf (demin Ispania) and rosh kallah, and became famous in the Babylonian academies (see A. Harkavy , Teshuvot ha-Ge'onim, Berlin, 1887, para. 386, p. 201, pp. 376–7). In the 11th century Isaac b. Judah Ibn Ghayyat taught in the yeshivah of Lucena. He was succeeded by Isaac Alfasi who was followed by Joseph Ibn Migash . In 1066 the widow of Joseph b. Samuel ha-Nagid and her son Azariah were among the refugees who came to Lucena in the wake of the anti-Jewish outburst in Granada (Abraham ibn Daud, Sefer ha-QabbalahThe Book of Tradition, ed. G. Cohen (1967), 77). The last king of the Zirid dynasty, Abdallah, reported an uprising of the Jews of Lucena during his reign – at the time of the expedition against the Almoravides (c. 1090). At the turn of the century a contemporary of Ibn Migash, the Almoravide ruler, Yusuf ibn Tāshfin (1061–1106), demanded that the Jews convert to Islam. While the community was saved in exchange for a heavy bribe, many Jews of Lucena moved northward to Navarre and settled near Tudela. They called their settlement Lucena and continued to live in accordance with the customs and ordinances of their original community, Lucena.

The grammarian Jonah ibn Janāh and the poets Moses and Abraham Ibn Ezra , Judah Halevi , and Joseph Ibn Sahl were active in Lucena at some time during their lives. The 11th-century Hebrew poet Abu-ar-Rabia b. Baruch, known throughout Andalusia, lived in Lucena. In 1146 during the Almohad wars, the Jews were persecuted and many were forced to convert to Islam. The community, like many other Andalusian communities, totally disappeared. Lucena was conquered by Castile in 1240. The fate of its Jewish community during the riots of 1391 resembles that of the other Andalusian communities, total destruction. Many were killed, many were forcibly converted, some escaped.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

M. Maimonides, Iggeret Teiman, ed. by A.S. Halkin (1952), xxix, 100f.; Neuman, Spain, index; Ibn Daud, Tradition, index; Baer, Spain, index; Ashtor, Korot, 1 (19662), 202f.; 2 (1966), 88–91; H. Schirmann, in: Sefer Assaf (1953), 496–514; E. Lévi-Provençal, in: Al-Andalus, 4 (1936), 113–6 (Fr.); Cantera Burgos, in: Sefarad, 13 (1953), 112–4; 19 (1959), 137–47; Cantera-Millás, Inscripciones, 168–70; Torres-Balbas, in: Al-Andalus, 19 (1954), 190. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Arjona Castro, in: Lucena; nuevos estudios históricos (1983), 65–88; J.L. Lacave, in: Sefarad, 47 (1987), 181–82; F. Díaz Esteban, in: J. Peláez del Rosal (ed.), The Jews in Cordoba (X–XII Centuries) (1987), 123–37; J. Peláez del Rosal (ed.), Los judíos de y Lucena; historia, pensamiento y poesía (1988).