Who are you? And who is Josep?
This is us:
I’m Daniella Levy, an observant (a.k.a. Orthodox) Jewish American-Israeli writer, and this is my Catholic Catalan friend Jordi, who I call Josep for the purposes of this blog. We met in his home city, Barcelona, in 2006, and have been good friends ever since. (It’s actually kind of a crazy story. Click here to read how it all began…)
You can read more about me, my other writings, and the other random things I do on my author website.
Why do you write him these letters about Judaism and Israel?
One of the things that drew us together was the fact that we’d each been harboring a fascination with each other’s backgrounds for years before we’d met–I with Spanish history, particularly the history of the conversos and their descendants, and he with Judaism and Israel. I was the first Jew or Israeli he had ever met, and he was eager to learn more about my life and my beliefs.
I have been very enthusiastic about my Judaism since I was a young teen, but I am always surrounded by other Jews who know just as much as I do. He was the first person I had known who didn’t know, and expressed interest. So upon my return home from Barcelona, we began corresponding, and I started trying to explain things to him. It was so much fun, I just couldn’t stop! Years later, I created this blog to post my thoughts and explanations about Judaism so others could read and enjoy them as well, and eventually I compiled the letters into that book we’re holding in the photo.
A Catholic Catalan? What’s a Catalan?
The Catalans are the people of Catalonia, an autonomous community in northeastern Spain. Historically, the region currently known as Catalonia and some of the neighboring areas were first united under the Count of Barcelona. The County unified dynastically with the Kingdom of Aragon in the twelfth century, and ruled over Aragonese territory for the next seven centuries. However, it maintained a political structure, culture, and language distinct from those of Aragon. In the eighteenth century it was conquered by Castile, and has been under Spanish rule since. The Catalans have nonetheless maintained their unique culture, language, and identity.
Oh right, isn’t that the region that tried to declare independence recently?
Yep. Catalonia held an independence referendum on October 1st, 2017, now infamous for the shocking brutality on the part of Spanish police. It tried to declare independence on October 27th, 2017, but no one recognized the declaration, and the Spanish government responded by suspending the region’s autonomy, firing the government, calling elections, and throwing a bunch of politicians in jail (and causing a bunch more to flee the country to avoid arrest). It took seven months for Catalonia to recover autonomous rule (as Spain refused to allow it to instate jailed or exiled politicians to take office, even though they were elected), a bunch of politicians are still in jail or exile, and it’s all a horrible mess.
Josep, for the record, has supported independence for Catalonia since long before it was cool. I’ve been writing about the situation and how it’s affected me and Josep on my Times of Israel blog, if you want to check that out.
Who are Eitan, H, R1 and R2?
Eitan is my long-suffering husband, who is a rabbi and tour guide. H, R1 and R2 are our sons, who are aged 9, 8, and 6 respectively.
Can I leave a comment?
Absolutely! Keep in mind, however, that I filter comments, and I only approve ones that adhere to basic standards of common decency. If you disagree with something I said or wish to point out an error, please feel free, but you must do so in a respectful and kind manner. And it goes without saying that antisemitic comments of any kind will go straight in the trash where they (and probably those who write them) belong. All comments and guest letters must reflect the atmosphere of respect, compassion, and friendly curiosity that characterize the blog and the friendship that inspired it.
Can I write a guest post?
YES PLEASE! I welcome guest letters to Josep on all topics relating to religion and culture, especially from people of different faiths and cultures than mine. You can see past guest letters here, and the guest letter submission page for more information.
Any other questions? Feel free to contact me.