Other Discussions on Religion

Sephardic Jews


     Jon Huyck, who lives in an igloo in Chicago, writes about  the crypto-Jews
of New Spain:
 "During the colonization by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries, a number of Spanish Jews settled in what is now New Mexico.  They were Conversos, and often when an old woman was dying, only then would she tell her daughters that they were Jewish.  Apparently, the men were sometimes kept in the dark about the whole thing!  Some surely must have know, since it was also considered helpful to have a son enter the priesthood, so the family's Catholicism wouldn't be suspect.  When a young person wanted to marry a non-Jew, the parents would say something like, "No, their  amily is not nobility as our's is."  Then they would suggest a match with someone from another crypto-Jewish family.  Some of these people, who found out they were Jewish when they became adults, came to understand for the first time why they had never eaten pork in their family.  In the 19th century, when Americans from the east coast moved into the area, many were prevented from starting businesses by the locals, the exception being Ashkenazic Jews, who were accepted by their co-religionists.  In this century, some of these people have sought to affiliate with local Ashkenazic synagogues, but
they have had trouble doing so, as the rabbis don't know whether or not these people should be considered Jewish. This question is becoming a thorn in the side of the Jewish community, both here and in Israel, where services at the Russian Orthodox church in Jerusalem are packed (by immigrants who should be in synagogues, not churches!) and some technically Jewish Ethiopians keep copies of the New Testament and meet for secret church services.  This last fact eerily echoes the first century of the common era, when Jews who believed in Christ had to meet secretly or risk persecution by the authorities (deportation to Ethiopia)."
      My comment: A complex and sensitive manner. The Sephardic Jews thought
they were superior to the Ashkenazic, i.e. more noble than them.  Many fled
to Monterrey, Mexico, snd then, to escape persecution there, to New Mexico.
I have some friends there, ardent Catholics, who have a Sephardic name. I
have never dared to ask them if they know of their origin.
      In 18-th century travelers' accounts of Spain there are many references to
such people, but specify that they practised their rites in private. They
certainly knew they were Jewish. Many people do not believe Madeleine
Albright when she says that she did not know she was Jewish.
 
 

Ronald Hilton - 01/03/99

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