In 1492, King Ferdinand did two remarkable things. He sent sent Columbus off on an expedition to find a shorter spice route, and he expelled the Jews from Spain. The consequences of both acts are with us today (the "discovery" of the New World and centuries-old diaspora of the Jews from Spain). Some Spanish Jews "converted" and stayed; those who left generally remained in the Mediterranean. Many settled in northern Italian city-states like Ferrara, whose enlightened duke overtly welcomed them because they were well-educated and self-sufficient. Others scattered to the north African coast (Morocco and Turkey, especially), and to what we know today as the Greek islands. Rhodes, especially, became home to a thriving Jewish community. Eventually, the lure of greater prosperity in the New World gave rise to a wave of immigration. As often happened in American history, one family's move begat another's, with the result that many of the Ashkenazi or Sephardic Jewish families of Seattle trace their origins back to the tiny isle of Rhodes: Benaroya, Alhadeff, Calvo, Policar, Kaplan, Levy, and so on. There's a lecture next week that promises more information, part of a series co-sponsored by Samuel and Althea Stroum, the Jewish Studies Program of the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, and the Washington State Jewish Historical Society. Dr. Aron Rodrigue, a professor of Jewish Studies and History at Stanford will deliver the lectures on 'êThe Island of Memory: Jewish Life in Rhodes, 16th to 20th Centuries." If you go: The lecture takes place Thursday, Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, 5217 S. Brandon St. Admission is free. For additional details, call 206-722-5500.