Directors: Dani Rotstein, Felipe Wolokita and Ofer Laszewicki / Spain 2022
Producers: Dani Rotstein, Felipe Wolokita and Ofer Laszewicki
Category: History / Religion
Language: English, Spanish, Catalan.
Length: 63 minutes
Discrimination. Humiliation. Stigma. Many native Catholic Mallorquins with Jewish heritage have suffered greatly for centuries – this documentary unveils recent conflicts within the only synagogue on the island and explores many historical aspects of the Inquisition and its effect on the infamous fifteen family lineages.
Synopsis: Xueta Island explores the fascinating legacy of the Xuetas (Chuetas): a unique group of families on the Balearic island of Majorca who are believed to be descendants of the island’s Inquisition-era Jewish population. Though they were practicing Catholics, the Chuetas were discriminated against up until the middle of the 20th century, always forced to marry within their subgroup population. Our story follows Dani Rotstein, a Jewish-American expat who moved to the island recently & quickly became fascinated with the story. Rotstein currently works as a social activist & filmmaker on the island, where he uses discoveries from his ongoing investigation to help rebuild the community.
Background: When the Inquisition decreed the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, there were no Jews officially left on this Mediterranean island. In 1435, the entire Jewish community underwent a massive baptism in order to save them from further persecution. But many converts – or “crypto Jews” – preserved the law of Moses. They lived secretly until 1691, when the “Autos de Fe” saw them publicly burned at the stake in front of the larger Mallorquin society. Their descendants, the chuetas, are bearers of 15 surnames harshly stigmatized by the Church due to their Jewish past. Marginalized and subjugated, they were forced to marry between their same families for centuries – a dangerous breeding ground for the transmission of hereditary diseases, such as the “Mediterranean fever.” The trauma they suffered was silenced by an ironclad social taboo, fostered even by themselves, eager to permanently forget the dark past.