Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Descendants of Marranos (Anusim) II - should they be encouraged to convert?

Recipients and Publicity comment to "Descendants of Marranos (Anousim) - should they be...":

It seems that the modern-day affliction of the "urge to merge" gentiles with Jews is to be found everywhere in the Jewish world in all shapes and sizes: Reform Jews wishes to welcome non-Jewish mothers and do "keruv" to the universe; Chabad and Aish HaTorah work quietly to help the spouses and family members of supporters get easy conversions; the Israeli government welcomes hundreds of thousands of non-Jews into Israel; the Religious Zionists work to convert people in bulk; RCA rabbis go easy on conversions of congregants' inter-married congregants; and even Litvishe Haredim have "kiruv" that leads to conversion such as Rabbi Leib Tropper and his EJF that promotes and welcomes gentile spouses of Jews. So is it any surprise that the Sephardim have their own version and weakness, based on the revisionism of Jewish history and nutty search for Marranos (any "interested" Hispanic may apply) that they now call "Anusim" or "Converso" as can be seen from this small but significant item published in the usually strict-about-conversions Jewish Press:

"The Jewish Press.
Friday, August 1, 2008. Page 47.
West Coast Happenings.
Jeanne Litvin, West Coast Editor.

Shul News: Recently Rabbi Simcha Green, formerly of Young Israel of Santa Barbara, became the spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavat Torah in San Jose, California, which became a Sephardic shul two years ago. Congregants come from Morocco, Syria, Iran, Romania and other communities – including Israel. This shul is an outreach center for Anusim (Conversos), previously referred to by Ashkenazim as Marranos. They are interested in hearing from people who include themselves in this category. On August 12- 18, they are hosting a Sephardic Heristage Week. Events are planned for both kids and adults. They include a Shabbos dinner for college students and singles, a Sephardic Food Cookoff, a talk on Jewish pirates during the Revolutionary War, and a symposium on the history of Conversos (to be held at San Jose State University)."


  1. "...previously referred to by **Ashkenazim** as Marranos. ..."

    The term was not invented by the Ashkenazim but by Spanish Christians to emphasize their hatred of those Jewish converts. If the people later used that term in recent memory notwithstanding its prejudicial origins, it is surely not because of hatred or bias by anyone including "Askhenazim".

  2. Hi Eliyahu, what you are picking up on is the general trend of historical revisionism and the cover-up that this new trend to "welcome back" Marranos/Anusim/Conversos which in reality has nothing to do with the facts of Jewish history, but with the very modern situation whereby Jews have adopted a dangerous strategy of welcoming gentiles into their midst, and this is just another example of so-called Sephardim or Sephardic shulls and organizations devoting their time to obviating the need for valid conversions, or to false conversions and invalid categorizations of gentiles under the cover "welcoming back" supposed "lost tribes" of Marranos/Anusim/Conversos.

    If Jews fall in love with gentile Hispanics and want to marry them, or of gentile Hispanaics think they are being crafty by claiming descnet from Marranos/Anusim/Conversos to gain entry into the Jewish people, they should not be humored nor should history be revised and twisted to suit them.

    How on Earth there could still be Marranos/Anusim/Conversos almost four hundreds years after that chapter of Jewish history was closed boggles the rational mind. How could people who have been practicing Catholicism for hundreds of years expect to get an "entry permit" into Klal Yisroel simply because of a trend of "multi-culturalism" by just uttering the words "Marranos/Anusim/Conversos" as if they were magic formulas? Where is the so-called "Syrian Takkana" to keep out false and fake and forced converts when you need it? But no, while SOME Sephardic rabbis pay homage to a Syrian Takkana-menatlity, at the same time they split their personality and welcome "Marranos/Anusim/Conversos". It would be interesting to know what Sephardic Israeli Chief Rabbi Amar thinks of the modern "Marranos/Anusim/Conversos" situation.

  3. Actually the term "marrano" comes from the word "Maharam" which means "forbidden" in Arabic. "Maharam" is an expression commonly (even today) used by both Arabic speaking Jews and Muslims for "pig" which is forbidden by both faiths.

    Like Spanish Jews, Iberian Muslims were also forced to choose between Catholicism and expulsion in 1492 when the Christian conquest of Spain was complete.

    Just as there were Crypto Jews in Spain, there were also Crypto Muslims. The term "marrano" or "converso" might have been applied to either while the term "morisco" or "Mudéjares" denoted "New Christians" of Muslim ancestry.

    Based upon the shared history of Jews and Muslims under Christian conquest, I get REALLY, REALLY nervous when I hear a Presidential candidate say something like "America is a Christian nation that needs a Christian President".

  4. My name is Nancy and I am a Marrano living in Israel. I read with interest the comments and would like to address a comment by one of the bloggers, "How on earth could there still be Marranos/Anusim/Conversos four hundred years....".

    As for my own family, we migrated from Mayorca, Canary Islands and some went to Holland. One of my ancestors migrated from Holland to Curacao where the first synagogue was built in the Americas. He was a merchant surnamed Levy and he sold his wares in a port village in Puerto Rico called Cabo Rojo. He moved to Puerto Rico with his wife a Marrano surnamed Quinones de la Torre to a town in the jungle covered mountains called Lares. Lares is so remote, often it cannot even be found on the map. This little village was a refuge for Marrano families for Puerto Rico had a Office of the Inquisition up into the 1850's.

    Our families only married other Marrano Jewish families. We never intermarried. Marriages were normally arranged by parents and often we married cousins. I have 8 generations of my Jewish mothers documents. All of our names are on the Inquisition List, which is really just a list of the census of the Church of Spain which names all their Jews. We have always known that we are Jews. My great and grandmothers always touched the door upon entering or leaving and said a prayer. This is not a Catholic practice. My mother escaped baptism. My grandparents never once stepped into a Catholic Church. They never had a cross or religious image in their home. My mother would not allow crosses in our home either. My mother always wore a Star of David. My mother remembers that her mother lit candles and she saw the bottle of wine on the table. My mother always took me with her and another Puerto Rican woman to immerse in the ocean. We really did not know any Halacha whatsoever. All we know is that we cannot mix our blood.

    The reason we are called Marrano Jews....which means "pig" Jew, is because we would not eat pig. I carry that title with pride.

    I am the one in my family who could not accept being a Jew, even though I was told when I was young, I just couldn't believe it for I knew nothing of the history of the Jews.
    I thought I was a "pedigree Spaniard" for that is what my father used to tell me. I have blond hair and blue eyes so I believed him.

    I was about as shocked as you are to find for certain that all this is true. As this blogger whom I quoted above showed us his prejudice towards Hispanics and Marranos....I kind of felt the same way! I was born into a prejudice because I was raised to think that I was different than the others...I just didn't know it was because we are Jews!!

  5. To Recipients and Publicity,

    How you dare to say “How on Earth there could still be Marranos/Anusim/Conversos.” I am not going to waste my time explaining my Jewish lineage to you. But I would like to ask you, how do you explain our Jewish customs after so many years? My family covered the mirrors in the house and discarded water from flower vase when family member passed away, buried nail clippings, my grand father asked to be buried facing Jerusalem, discarded chametz for Pesach, and many other customs. We did all this without books, Rabbis, and formal community. Now, who are you to make halachik decisions? By disguising or omitting your name, I can tell what kind of person you are. My birth name is Even Ezer, and in honor of my ancestors and for the future of my children, I returned to G-d and Judaism, I returned home and we are here to stay with or without your consent.

  6. I agree with Even Ezer Garcia. Yes, many Hispanics do have a Jewish lineage. Some acknowledge it openly, others speak about grandparents or great-grandparents that practiced Jewish customs.

    Speaking for myself, my great-grandmother, surnames Vasquez Caceres, passed on many of these traditions to her children. Among them, mourning in black for a year (and as a widow she wore black for the rest of her life). She would salt meat to make sure to get rid of the blood; she lit candles on Friday, she would not mix milk with meat. She also taught us not to eat certain fish; they were dirty. She taught us that to be anti-Semitic was wrong. After all, she reasoned, Jesus was Jewish.

    We found it interesting that she, a "Catholic", manage to keep both the Christian and Jewish Sabbath. To this day, my aunt (her granchild) does keeps up with my great-gradnmother's practics.
    She never referred to Jesus as G-d. She also made taught us that a woman is unclean for 40 days after having a child. Although her wishes, and that of her husband were not granted, they both had wanted to be buried in a shroud. I do not know anyone in my family who has, but this is one other thing we know about her.

    On my dad's side of the family, the family married cousins only. My grandmother was the first one to break this taboo. She herself was Padila Padilla, the product of intermarriage. We were told her family did this because they wanted to remain purely "Spanish." Now we know that wasn't true. They also forbid the cutting of the male child until the age of 2 and sometimes three years old. When we sweep, all the garbage goes to the middle of the room. Unlike my great-grandmother, this particular grandmother never acknowledged this side of herself.

    In the case of my maternal great-grandmother, members always spoke of a great family secret. Well, having grown up in a Jewish community, I suspected my great-grandmother had Jewish roots. I was right. We finally found out five years ago when one of her ancestors died and revealed the family secret to a cousin. Our great-grandmother was of of Sephardic origins. And why did she and others kept it a secret? Why not? We all know how Jewish people have been persecuted throughout the ages. It's to her credit that she left us, her descendants, such a legacy of her faith.

    By the way, when I asked my aunt, whether she knew this family secret, she just looked at me and smiled.

    Many of us are attracted to the Jewish faith; some will return to their faith, and others may not. But we all hold one thing in common: a great love for Israel and the Jewish people. After all, we're part of them, return to the faith or not.

    Enough said.

  7. Agree with Even Ezer Garcia said...

    When we sweep, all the garbage goes to the middle of the room.

    What's that about?

  8. Can anyone understand why the Ashkenazim take every chance to run down the Sephardim?

    I don't get it! Especially after reading the book, "DNA and Tradition" which clearly points out that the true descendants of Abraham are the Sephardim. The Ashkenazi DNA scientifically proves that they are mixed with goy. In fact, Arabs are more closely related to Abraham than the Ashkenazim.

    Historically, the Ashkenazim are a people who originated in the area now known as Georgia in what was the Soviet Union, by the Black Sea. This historic fact is taught in Sephardic yeshivas throughout Jerusalem. The references in the Torah also point to Southern Russia and the people known as Mysians (Meshech).

    Historians often claim that Ashkenazim are German Jews, however, more recent evidence shows that they migrated from Russian. The term "Ashkenazi" did not become a definite Jewish designation for Germany until the 11th century.

    Ashkenazim are not descendants of Abraham but rather of converts. In fact, the "Khazar Empire" converted en masse after their king converted to Judaism. They not only DO NOT descend from Abraham but they DO NOT even descend from Shem. They are descendants of Japheth through Gomer. This explains why their features are so different than the Oriental Jews and why their DNA is also different. It also explains why their spiritual nature is so different than Oriental Jews who are known as warm and open people, (like Abraham).

    Why then all this fussing and anger towards the Spanish Marranos? The Marranos are probably more closely related to Abraham than any Ashkenazi!

  9. I also recently found out, through historical documents, that I descend (on the paternal and maternal side) from 'Converso' Jews; It seems they married other 'Conversos' through the centuries. My mother tried to raise us Catholic but failed miserably, especially with me...I always got into trouble with the Priests at Cathecism class because I believed the Old Testament and ridiculed the New Testament. In fact, the only reason I had my First Communion was because my mother bribed the Priest; He was very clear about me not accepting the 'Holy Sacraments'; I did not get a "Confirmation" ceremony since I had debated the existence of sin with one of the Jesuit priests, who was extremely angry at my precociousness...I do not follow any religion, I simply know that God exists, and is in my heart...I need no messengers or middle-people to reach God.
    To those intolerant beings out there, I will never understand why you dare to act as if you were God: You are not. Hearts should be glad that those of us who were kept in the dark about our true origins are now bathing in the light of knowledge and truth. And I will continue in my search, which began very early, when I was four (yes, I was an extremely precocious child who could read, write, and knew my time-tables when I was three years old)...I am now 47 and happy to know that I have discovered what is still, for many of my relatives, a "secret".

  10. After four years of genetic and genealogical research, I too concluded that my ancestors escaped the Spanish Inquisition and landed in the Caribbean. Eleven out of 15 of my maternal surnames are of the Conversos. If my ancestors were converted against their will, then their conversion is invalid. Even after centuries of buried history, the Special relationship I have always enjoyed with deity is very much there. No amount of Jewish nor Christian orthodoxy can take that away from me! Shalom.

  11. There is one difficulty , I see with these post. The assumption that all anusim forgot their identity. There have been many anusim communities who maintained marriage within their communities and live as crypto-jews following the Torah. The "remembrance of a distant relative who may have been jewish" and then claiming to be a jew does a real disservice to those who can trace their history and identity and who actually are anusim.

  12. There is one difficulty , I see with these post. The assumption that all anusim forgot their identity. There have been many anusim communities who maintained marriage within their communities and live as crypto-jews following the Torah. The "remembrance of a distant relative who may have been jewish" and then claiming to be a jew does a real disservice to those who can trace their history and identity and who actually are anusim.

  13. The Sephardic Kaal Kadosh of Amsterdam welcomed Conversos from Portugal and Spain to return to Judaism well into year 1760. That is 270 years after the final forced conversions. 9 generations or more. There's good halachic precedent about the subject. Besides there are plenty Sephardic responsa that clearly state that Ashkenazim have NO say whatsoever in Sephardic halachic issues. The Bnei Anusim case is a Sephardic issue, only for Sephardic rabbis to deal with.

  14. The Sephardic Kahal Kadosh of Amsterdam welcomed Conversos from Portugal and Spain to return to Judaism well into year 1760. That is 270 years after the final forced conversions. 9 generations or more. There's good halachic precedent about the subject. Besides there are plenty Sephardic responsa that clearly state that Ashkenazim have NO say whatsoever in Sephardic halachic issues. The Bnei Anusim case is a Sephardic issue, only for Sephardic rabbis to deal with.

  15. Rachamim Slonim DwekFebruary 20, 2018 at 4:59 AM

    First, the "1760 Amsterdam" story was fabricated by an American Hispanic from New Mecico so you really should do some actual research as opposed to grabbing nonsense online that by the way has zero to do with people in the 21st Century.

    As for "Ashkenazi," if I was one maybe I would waste some time debunking your statement which at best is ridiculously ignorant. Sufficient to say that the fact that you do not recognise that my surname is Sephardi Mizrachi means that you are driving blind.

    Here, let me help you: Each set of your ancestors dohbles. 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents and on and on moving back through your lineage. By the time you get to the 16th Century, the last time real Conversos actually existed, you have 1.2 million direct ancestors. Supposedly, in your mind, being 1/1.2 millionth Jewish is supposed to mean that you do not have to convert??? Really? Good luck with that AND that is besides the fact that you have no way of proving that a single one of those 1.2 million ancestors had ever come from a Jewish lineage to begin with.

  16. The 1760 Amsterdam thing is well documented by various sources. 24 Portuguese immigrants came to Amsterdam in 1765 to revert to Judaism. The Halachic doubt was solved because the return to Judaism ritual included circumcision and tevilah, just like a conversion. That is the solution for today, a full conversion, but issuing a Return certificate in lieu of a conversion one.

    Also, I'm fed up with the "Sephardic Mizrachi" appropriation. Mizrachim are NOT Sephardi. They always lived in Middle East. If your ancestors didn't come from Spain or Portugal, you are NOT Sephardi. Turkish, Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian and Spanish-Portuguese are Sephardic. Iraqi, Persian, Syrian, Yemeni, etc. are NOT.

    Everytime I read about a "Sephardic ban on conversion" because of the Syrian Takanah, I realize about all the fake information it's being released. No Sephardim have ever issued any ban on conversion.

  17. And my principal source is the historian James S. Amelang and expert on the field of conversos, I don't know who are you talking about.

  18. And I said Ashkenazi not because of you, but because this is a primarily Ashkenazi site and most detractors of Bnei Anusim are Ashkenazi. I know Dweck is Syrian. I studied in the Spanish and Portuguese community of London with Rabbi Joseph Dweck.

  19. Of course if you have only ONE Jewish ancestor out of 1.2 million you won't have anything to back it, probably because you wouldn't get any heritage from that.

    But conversos married among them for many, many generations, and here in Spain and Portugal the Xuetas of Mallorca, the conversos from Belmonte and many families from Toledo, etc. suffered from anti-semitic harassment well into the XXth century because they were of Jewish heritage and everybody knew it. Today's Bnei Anusim are the children of many generations of Jewish descendants, not people with a Jewish ancestor out of 1.2 million.

    They are returning to Judaism in many places of the world and the rest of the Jewish world is going to have to acknowledge it.

  20. That's true. Mizrachim have no say over true Sephardic issues. I just wish Ashkenazim would stop calling all non-Ashkenazim Sephardic. It's really misleading. Spain and Portugal must be in your family's past for you to be a Sephardi.


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