"1492: Columbus, the Jews, and the Messiah in Spain" with Matt Goldfish

Thursday, 03/16/2017
Old Main
University of Colorado Boulder

Goldish will focus on three enormous events that occurred in Spain during 1492: the end of the centuries-long war to stop Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula, the voyage of Christopher Columbus and the expulsion of the Jews. These events are intimately connected, and their intersections run directly through Spanish expectations about the messiah.

Is it possible that we did not learn everything there is to know about Columbus in school? Find out from a Columbus (Ohio) resident!

In addition to his public lecture, Goldish will present a graduate student and faculty colloquium and serve as a guest lecturer in a Jewish studies course.

Professor Goldish is the Program in Jewish Studies’ fifth annual Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar. His visit celebrates the Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholars Endowed Fund, honoring the lives of Howard and Sondra Bender—devoted parents and grandparents who cherished Jewish culture, celebrated education and lived life to the fullest. The Bender Foundation has generously endowed the fund.

The Center for Western Civilization, Thought and Policy funds research and educational initiatives that contribute to critical reflection on the development of Western civilization. All CU Boulder faculty and students are eligible to apply If you are interested in applying for a CWCTP faculty grant, deadlines are rolling throughout the year.


140 people attended the successful events. In his public talk, Professor Goldish argued that the three major events of 1492 on the Iberian peninsula—the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the end of Muslim rule, and the voyages of Christopher Columbus—were contrary to popular and scholarly opinion inspired by the same messianic expectations. In his lunchtime colloquium, Professor Goldish explored the arcane and occult writings of the Jewish mystic, Abraham Rovigo, and the ways in which they revealed the odd pedagogy of mystical writings at the time. There were several interested students, faculty and community members at both events, exemplifiying how town and gown can learn together. At both events, Professor Goldish fielded numerous questions about his material and continued to correspond with students and community members from the audience by email.