A mayor in Spain is proposing changing the name of his village because it means, in part, “kill Jews.”
Castrillo Matajudios translates to “Castrillo Kill Jews” and is believed to have originated during the Medieval period, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.
As a result Mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez’s proposal, the 60 families who live in the village will vote next week on the possible name change.
The proposed new name is Castrillo Mota de Judios, or “Castrillo Jews’ Hill.” According to JTA, that was the original name of the village before it was changed to the more violent-sounding name during the Spanish Inquisition.
“The majority decision will be respected, even if it is only by one vote,” Rodríguez told the newspaper Diario de Burgos.
“Mr. Rodriguez says the original name came after a number of Jewish people were massacred in nearby Castrojeriz in 1035, prompting survivors to move to the Castrillo hill. A second massacre occurred there in 1109,” British newspaper the Independent wrote Sunday.
JTA explained that in northern Spain, it’s common to hear the similar term “matar Judios” (“killing Jews”), which describes the drinking of alcohol-spiked lemonade traditionally at Easter-time celebrations.
Maria Royo, a spokesperson for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, told JTA that the term originated in medieval times when some Jews who had converted to Christianity were publicly executed around Easter time.
“Regrettably, this type of expression exists in Spain in ceremonies and parties,” Royo said.
However, “the people saying it are mostly unaware of the history. It is a complicated issue that is ingrained in local culture,” Royo added.
JTA wrote — as an example of the ubiquity of the term’s use in the alcohol-drinking context — that Ramon Benavides, president of a local associations of hoteliers, last month told the news agency EFE: “When ‘killing Jews,’ it’s best to take it slow and keep track of how much you drink to avoid excesses and its consequences the next day.”