Emily Harris

International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.

Over her career, Harris has served in multiple roles within public media. She first joined NPR in 2000, as a general assignment reporter. A prolific reporter often filing two stories a day, Harris covered major stories including 9/11 and its aftermath, including the impact on the airline industry; and the anthrax attacks. She also covered how policies set in Washington are implemented across the country.

In 2002, Harris worked as a Special Correspondent on NOW with Bill Moyer, focusing on investigative storytelling. In 2003 Harris became NPR's Berlin Correspondent, covering Central and Eastern Europe. In that role, she reported regularly from Iraq, leading her to be a key member of the NPR team awarded a 2005 Peabody Award for coverage of the region.

Harris left NPR in December 2007 to become a host for a live daily program, Think Out Loud, on Oregon Public Broadcasting. Under her leadership Harris's team received three back to back Gracie Awards for Outstanding Talk Show, and a share in OPB's 2009 Peabody Award for the series "Hard Times." Harris's other awards include the RIAS Berlin Commission's first-place radio award in 2007 and second-place in 2006. She was a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University in 2005-2006.

A seasoned reporter, she was asked to help train young journalist through NPR's "Next Generation" program. She also served as editorial director for Journalism Accelerator, a project to bring journalists together to share ideas and experiences; and was a writer-in-residence teaching radio writing to high school students.

One of the aspects of her work that most intrigues her is why people change their minds and what inspires them to do so.

Outside of work, Harris has drafted a screenplay about the Iraq war and for another project is collecting stories about the most difficult parts of parenting.

She has a B.A. in Russian Studies from Yale University.

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3:47am

Tue July 21, 2015
Parallels

Gaza To Canada And Back To Gaza: Why A Family Chose To Return

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 2:25 pm

Ihab al-Aloul (left) and his sons Abdel Rahman, 9, and Ahmed, 22, at the family's pool in Gaza City. The Aloul family left Gaza in 2008 and moved to British Columbia, Canada, but returned to Gaza in the fall of 2014.
Emily Harris NPR

What would make you move to Gaza?

The small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast is run by Hamas, the Islamist group Israel and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization. Earlier this year the World Bank said Gaza probably had the highest rate of unemployment in the world. It can be difficult to get into Gaza, and, if you are Palestinian, very difficult to get the necessary Israeli or Egyptian permission to leave.

Three wars between Israel and Hamas since 2008 killed more than 3,000 Gazans, the majority civilians.

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4:21pm

Thu July 16, 2015
Parallels

Quadriplegic Israeli Woman Challenges Surrogacy Rules And Loses A Child

Originally published on Fri July 17, 2015 6:50 am

Ora Mor Yosef, a quadriplegic Israeli woman, had a surrogate child via a niece who underwent the procedure in India and gave birth in Israel. But Israeli authorities, including the High Court, ruled against Mor Yosef, and the baby has been in foster care for more than two years.
Emily Harris NPR

Ora Mor Yosef, a disabled Israeli woman, challenged her country's rules about surrogate parenting and lost the baby.

Single and in her 30s, her efforts began by asking her traditional Jewish family what they thought.

"I wanted to hear how they would feel if I were a single parent," Mor Yosef says. "To my joy they agreed, and gave their blessing."

The next step was getting pregnant. But Mor Yosef has progressive muscular dystrophy and doctors advised her against using a sperm donor and carrying a child herself.

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1:24pm

Tue July 7, 2015
NPR Ed

How One Israeli Educator Turned His School Around

Originally published on Tue July 7, 2015 6:32 pm

Principal Ali Shalalha stands at the entrance of the high school. Though the school has closed for summer, it's filled with students who are studying for exams.
Tanya Habjouqa for NPR

In a small town perched on a steep mountain in northern Israel, Ali Shalalha has managed a remarkable achievement.

Fifteen years ago, only 12 percent of seniors at Beit Jann Comprehensive School passed the exams that are the prerequisite for higher education in Israel. Last year, and the year before, every single senior passed.

Beit Jann ranks second now in the high school graduation exams, known as bagrut, for all of Israel. This year, Shalalha — the school's principal — is hoping for first.

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5:07am

Sun July 5, 2015
Parallels

Israel And The West Bank Through Fresh Eyes

Originally published on Sun July 5, 2015 12:59 pm

The Weinfeld Family, 2009. Photographer Frederic Brenner, who took this photo, created This Place, an exhibit that features the work of 12 internationally acclaimed photographers in Israel and the West Bank.
Frederic Brenner/Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery

A dozen internationally acclaimed photographers were set loose in Israel and the West Bank. Most had never been in either place before. The aim was to try to see anew a part of the world that's been thoroughly photographed, long mythologized and often fought over.

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10:07am

Sun June 21, 2015
Parallels

Israel Bets On Recycled Water To Meet Its Growing Thirst

Originally published on Sun June 21, 2015 10:20 pm

Farmer Efi Cohen inspects almond trees on a kibbutz south of Jerusalem. The Israeli government says it's safe to use treated sewage water to irrigate tree fruit, but not all crops.
Emily Harris NPR

Recycling sewage water has helped free Israel, a desert country, from depending on rain.

Treated sewage water provides close to a quarter of Israel's demand for water, right behind desalination, the other major process that has eased Israel's fear of drought.

But making that water — from toilets, showers, and factories — clean enough to use is challenging.

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12:33pm

Thu June 18, 2015
Parallels

In The West Bank, Facebook Posts Can Get You Arrested, Or Worse

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 8:58 pm

The indictment against 24-year-old Palestinian Ayman Mahareeq says comments he posted on Facebook illegally insulted the West Bank police force and the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank.
Emily Harris NPR

In the waiting room of a courthouse in the West Bank city of Ramallah last week, a clerk called defendants to pick up their files while loudspeaker announcements blared courtroom assignments.

A skinny young man in jeans and a blue T-shirt waited to hear his name. Ayman Mahareeq, who just turned 24, faced charges of insulting officials based on comments he'd posted on Facebook.

"One of my posts was about how Palestinian security forces act whenever Israeli forces enter the West Bank," Mahareeq says. "They withdraw and hide."

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5:08am

Thu June 18, 2015
Parallels

Why Israel Lets Qatar Give Millions To Hamas

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 2:05 pm

Qatari official Mohammed al-Emadi (left) visits Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City on March 12. Israel has accused Qatar of financing Hamas weaponry but still allows Qatar to spends millions in Gaza on aid and development projects.
Ashraf Amra APA/Landov

This is a story about Middle East cooperation that seems to defy all the rules.

Israel's long-standing policy has been to isolate Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates the Gaza Strip. And Israel has long accused Qatar of financing Hamas, including providing money used for rockets fired into Israel during last summer's war.

So why, then, would Israel permit a Qatari official to visit Gaza and spend tens of millions of dollars in the coastal territory?

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8:09am

Sun June 14, 2015
Parallels

Israel Bringing Its Years Of Desalination Experience To California

Originally published on Tue June 16, 2015 2:05 pm

The Hadera desalination plant is one of five built in Israel after a severe drought in the 1990s. Along with conservation efforts and water recycling, the plants have helped end Israel's chronic water shortages.
Emily Harris NPR

Taking the salt out of seawater helped Israel move from the constant threat of drought to a plentiful supply of water, but Israel has learned that desalination is not the only answer.

Ben-Gurion University's Institute for Water Research is deep in Israel's Negev desert and away from the sea. Prof. Jack Gilron, head of the Department of Desalination and Water Treatment, and other researchers here test concepts in desalination to see if they might hold promise for industrial development.

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9:39am

Sat May 30, 2015
Parallels

Under Cover Of Conflict, Hamas Killed Palestinians, Amnesty Alleges

Originally published on Sat May 30, 2015 2:20 pm

Armed Palestinian masked militants push back a crowd of worshippers outside a mosque in Gaza City on August 22, 2014, before executing more than a dozen men for allegedly helping Israel during its six-week assault on the Palestinian enclave. This week, Amnesty International released a report saying that Hamas was responsible for these and other killings.
STR AFP/Getty Images

During the upheaval of last year's war between Hamas and Israel, at least 23 Gazans were deliberately killed by their fellow Palestinians, according to a report out this week from Amnesty International.

Amnesty blames the killings on Hamas, which runs Gaza. It says those killed were accused of being collaborators — spies for Israel — and many were awaiting trial.

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3:59am

Mon May 25, 2015
Parallels

Trying To Organize A Marathon, An Arab-Israeli Woman Runs Into Opposition

Originally published on Sun May 31, 2015 10:26 pm

Haneen Radi, an Arab Israeli, wants to organize a marathon for her town of Tira, but was told the run couldn't include women. When she insisted, she received threats, and the back window of her car was shot out.
Emily Harris NPR

Haneen Radi learned to run by walking.

"I used to walk," says the 36-year-old mother of four. "I saw people running and said, I'll try that."

Radi took off. In the decade since then she's finished eight marathons, and she now coaches a girls' running club with 80 members.

"I'm another person when running," Radi says. "I'm happy, I'm smiling."

A few months ago, Radi decided to organize a marathon in Tira, her hometown in northern Israel.

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7:17pm

Wed May 20, 2015
Parallels

For Israel, Soccer Becomes A Geopolitical Football

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 8:39 pm

FIFA President Sepp Blatter kicks a ball during the inauguration of a football stadium in the village of Dura al-Qari near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday. Blatter said he is on a "mission of peace" to resolve tensions between the Israeli and Palestinian soccer federations.
Majdi Mohammed AP

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has moved to the soccer field. Next week, at the annual meeting of FIFA — the international body governing football — its 209 members are scheduled to vote on a proposal to suspend Israel from international play.

Palestinian soccer officials put the proposal on FIFA's agenda, saying Israeli policies hurt Palestinian players and the sport's development and break FIFA's own rules.

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7:58am

Sat May 16, 2015
Parallels

Will Israel Charge Soldiers In Gaza Civilian Deaths?

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 10:44 am

Displaced Palestinians seek shelter in the courtyard of a United Nations-run elementary school in Jabaliya, a northern Gaza town, in July 2014 — shortly before the school was hit by what the UN says was Israeli artillery. Israel has opened a criminal investigation into the attack.
Emily Harris NPR

By the end of July during last summer's war in the Gaza Strip, more than 3,000 Palestinians crowded into a United Nations-run elementary school in Jabaliya, a northern Gaza town. They had moved there for temporary shelter after the Israeli military warned them to leave their homes.

An hour before dawn on July 30, explosions shook the classrooms and the courtyard, all packed with people.

Mahmoud Jaser was camped outside with his sons.

"We were sleeping when the attack started. As we woke up, it got worse," he said.

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5:42pm

Thu May 14, 2015
Parallels

Why Everyone's Talking About Israel's New Justice Minister

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 3:33 pm

Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Jewish Home party, shown here on May 6, is Israel's new justice minister. During her two years in parliament, she called for bringing more conservative judges to Israel's highest court.
Gali Tibbon AFP/Getty Images

Among the faces in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new right-wing government, one is drawing particular attention: Ayelet Shaked, the new justice minister.

Shaked is secular, lives in liberal Tel Aviv, and has a background in the high-tech industry. Ari Soffer, the managing editor of Israel National News, calls her a patriot.

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3:43am

Mon May 11, 2015
Parallels

With Small Shifts, Israel Eases Restrictions On Some Palestinians

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 11:16 am

For many commuters, standing in the parking lot after driving to work wouldn't be noteworthy. But for rheumatologist Anas Muhana, it's a big deal. He's one of only 100 Palestinian West Bank residents now permitted to drive his own car, with its white-and-green plates, to his job in Israel. The Israeli military banned Palestinian-plated cars for the past 15 years.
Emily Harris NPR

Early one morning a couple of weeks ago, rheumatologist Anas Muhana got into his 2008 tan Mercedes jeep, turned on the ignition and drove from his home in Ramallah to his work at Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem.

It was the first time he had been allowed to do this in 15 years.

Muhana is Palestinian. His car has a green and white Palestinian license plate. And in 2000, at the start of the second intifada, Israel stopped allowing cars with Palestinian plates to cross checkpoints from the West Bank.

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5:02am

Tue May 5, 2015
Middle East

From Israel To ISIS: How A Search For A Safe Haven Took A Wrong Turn

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 4:37 pm

African migrants, many from Eritrea and Sudan, raise their hands as part of a protest at the Holot detention center in southern Israel on Feb. 17, 2014. Tesfai Kidane, an Eritrean who left the center last year and returned to Africa, was later killed by the Islamic State in Libya. It was not clear how he wound up in Libya.
Oded Balilty AP

What happened to Tesfai Kidane?

The Eritrean migrant came to a tragic end in Libya at the hands of the Islamic State, but his family isn't sure what path he took to get there or exactly where he was headed. At a time when unstable states are creating floods of refugees in the Middle East and North Africa, Kidane's tale is just one of many filled with random twists and turns and unexpected outcomes.

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5:41pm

Mon May 4, 2015
Parallels

Israeli Soldiers: Lax Rules In Gaza War Led To Indiscriminate Fire

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:02 am

Palestinian girls walk past buildings in Gaza City that were destroyed during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in the summer of 2014. Dozens of Israeli soldiers have now given testimonials saying that indiscriminate firing was tolerated, or even encouraged at times.
Thomas Coex AFP/Getty Images

More than 60 Israeli soldiers who took part in last summer's war in Gaza have offered firsthand combat stories. Many said they felt their orders went too far, leading to indiscriminate fire and Palestinian civilian deaths.

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6:20pm

Wed April 29, 2015
Goats and Soda

Israeli Dads Welcome Surrogate-Born Baby In Nepal On Earthquake Day

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 12:19 am

Now this is an international baby: Born to a surrogate mom in Nepal (who was implanted with an egg from a South African donor) and now living in Israel with his parents, Amir Vogel Greengold (left) and Gilad Greengold.
Emily Harris NPR

The sperm came from Israel. It was frozen and flown to Thailand, where a South African egg donor awaited. After the egg was fertilized, the embryo traveled to Nepal and was implanted in the Indian woman who agreed to serve as the surrogate mother.

And roughly nine months later, there was a big, bouncing earthquake.

The world of international surrogacy is ... pretty complicated.

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5:55pm

Fri April 24, 2015
Parallels

Clearing The Tangled Path For Land Ownership In The West Bank

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 6:55 pm

One of the first homes going up on land bought and sold as part of a Canadian-Palestinian investment firm's effort to properly register plots. Much land in the West Bank is not registered and has no title deed, creating problems for economic development.
Emily Harris NPR

High on a West Bank hilltop, the extended Dissi family gathered on a recent weekend for a day out in the Palestinian countryside.

Aunts, uncles and cousins came to see the half-built weekend home of Taysier Dissi, an electrician and father of three. The concrete-block shell, with windows set and stairs roughed in, is placed just right for the view.

This will be the family's getaway from their home in the cramped confines of Jerusalem's often tense Old City. Dissi paid about $30,000 for one-third of an acre here, bought from a Palestinian-Canadian company, UCI.

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10:48am

Mon April 13, 2015
Goats and Soda

And The Fate Of The Hermaphrodite Goat Is...

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 3:23 pm

In Gaza, all hermaphroditic goats will go to heaven. On Sunday, authorities ordered the slaughter of this animal — which had male sex organs and udders — lest people mistakenly believe that its milk had special powers. And if another hermaphrodite goat turns up, it too will face the knife.
Emily Harris/NPR

The male milk-giving goat of Gaza has been turned into meat.

Owner Jaser Abu Said sold the goat for the 400 Jordanian dinars (close to $600) that he and his business partner spent on it. He found a buyer willing to slaughter the goat for meat. And he stuck around to witness the goat's demise personally, along with representatives from the Gaza government.

Why government officials at a goat slaughtering — which happens pretty frequently in Gaza?

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7:25am

Sun April 12, 2015
Parallels

With Few Choices, Gaza Family Makes Bombed-Out Shell Its Home

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 6:18 pm

The ground floor walls of the Otaish family's home are gone and the rest of the house is also bombed out, but they have decided to live in what's left of it.
Emily Harris NPR

In Gaza, reconstruction is happening, but slowly. Months after the war between Israel and Hamas, the main United Nations organization tracking progress, UNRWA, says fewer than half the homes it has assessed as "damaged" have been repaired, and not one of the over 9,000 totally destroyed homes has been rebuilt.

Facing few choices, some families have decided to live in what's left of their bombed out homes.

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3:05pm

Fri April 10, 2015
Goats and Soda

A Hermaphrodite Goat Could Be The Ultimate Scapegoat

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 9:23 am

The owners of this Gaza goat say it is a hermaphrodite: male private parts and an udder.
Emily Harris/NPR

The goat trade is a good business in Gaza. Every couple of weeks, Abdel Rahman and his business partner, Jaser Abu Said, buy half a dozen young goats imported from Israel and sell them for meat.

Last time, they got something unusual. Of the five goats they bought, for about $600 each, one was a hermaphrodite.

By all appearances, it was male, with a large build and visible male sex organs. But it also had udders. And gave milk.

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7:39am

Sat March 28, 2015
The Salt

Making Cheese In The Land Of The Bible: Add Myrrh And A Leap Of Faith

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 10:56 am

A Palestinian Bedouin girl milks a sheep in her family's makeshift camp in the West Bank. Herders live close to their animals, their main source of income.
Emily Harris NPR

In spring, West Bank almond trees bloom white. Dry brown hills turn temporarily green and are dotted with bright wildflowers. The ewes and nanny goats of Bedouin herders that wander the West Bank eat well this time of year.

It's cheese season.

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7:53am

Sun March 15, 2015
Middle East

Netanyahu Maintains Focus On Iran As His Voter Support Falls

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 11:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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1:27pm

Thu March 12, 2015
Parallels

The West Bank Battle For Land ... And Water

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 1:45 pm

The Bedouin camp has a black plastic water tank near a school built from mostly mud and tires.
Emily Harris/NPR

On Moshav Na'ama, a big Israeli farm in the West Bank inside the wide Jordan Valley, Inon Rosenblum raises fresh herbs for export.

He hires Palestinians to work the fields and pack the crops. The farm is 300 feet below sea level, a desert climate where irrigation is mandatory. Rosenblum won't say exactly how much water he uses, or exactly where it comes from.

"From wells," he says. "In the mountains." Then he changes the subject.

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7:51am

Thu March 5, 2015
Parallels

In Israel, A Vote To Choose A Leader And An Identity

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 1:58 pm

Shoppers walk through a market in downtown Jerusalem last November, shortly before Israel's coalition government collapsed. As Israel prepares for elections on March 17, the diverse population has very different notions of what the country should look like.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Israel's March 17 election is two years earlier than it should be, thanks to the collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government in December. Contributing to the breakup was an impassioned debate over whether a stronger legal emphasis on the country's Jewish character would ultimately make Israel less democratic.

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8:44am

Sun March 1, 2015
Parallels

In Israel, Jewish Divorce Is Granted Only By Husband's Permission

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 3:07 pm

In Gett, the character Viviane Ansalem wants a divorce but her husband will not give permission. In Israel, if you're Jewish, even if you're not religious, you have to be divorced by Jewish law.
Courtesy Music Box Films

In Israel, religious law governs family matters.

For a Jewish divorce, an Orthodox rabbi oversees a ritual that begins with the husband placing a folded decree, called a get or gett, into the wife's cupped hands. But that paper can be hard to obtain, because the husband can refuse to grant the divorce.

A new Israeli film playing in the U.S. shows how patriarchal Jewish divorce laws can trap even secular women for years.

The film is a drama called Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem. Viviane wants a divorce but needs her husband's permission.

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5:09am

Thu February 12, 2015
Middle East

Arab-Israeli Parties Join Forces In Upcoming Israeli Election

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 9:09 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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6:00pm

Wed January 28, 2015
World

Israeli Soldiers Killed In Renewed Fighting With Hezbollah

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:20 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

5:21pm

Fri January 16, 2015
Parallels

French Immigrants To Israel Bring Part Of Home With Them

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 11:39 pm

An estimated 400 new French Jewish immigrants attended a welcoming ceremony after arriving on a flight from France to Tel Aviv, Israel in July 2014.
Lior Mizrahi Getty Images

French Jews, often with roots in North Africa, have been immigrating to Israel since that country's founding. The community has changed with the times, and after last week's attacks in Paris, is expected to grow — and change — again.

Samuela Mass left Paris in October last year. The 28-year-old French Jew came to Israel for a better life for him and his future family — and to escape violence.

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12:11pm

Thu December 25, 2014
Parallels

After 522 Years, Spain Seeks To Make Amends For Expulsion Of Jews

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 9:21 am

Children gather outside the El Transito synagogue and Sephardic Museum in Toledo, Spain. Founded in 1357, the synagogue was converted into a church following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. Spain is now preparing to pass a law that would allow descendants of the expelled Jews to receive Spanish citizenship.
Gerard Julien AFP/Getty Images

As night fell recently over the Spanish city of Toledo, Hanukkah candles lit up empty streets outside the medieval El Transito synagogue.

Folk songs in Ladino — a blend of Spanish and Hebrew — wafted across the garden of the synagogue, which is now the Sephardic Museum.

Sefarad means Spain in Hebrew, and the term refers to Jews of Spanish descent.

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