Allen S. Maller

Hispanic Jew lovers become Jews

A new, detailed survey of American Jews (“American Jews in 2020”) from the Pew Research Center shows that 7% of all American Jews identify as Hispanic. The majority of these Hispanic Jews are converts to Judaism who have been romantically attracted both to Jews and Judaism. Most of these Hispanic Jewish converts are also genetically returning home.

The genetic signatures of people in Spain and Portugal provide new and explicit evidence of the mass forced conversions of Sephardic Jews to Catholicism in the 15th and 16th centuries, a team of geneticists reported according to the NYTimes (12/4/08). Twenty percent of the population of the Iberian Peninsula has Sephardic Jewish ancestry the geneticists found.

The study was based on an analysis of Y chromosomes by biologists led by Mark A. Jobling of the University of Leicester in England and Francesc Calafell of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

In 1391 there were anti-Jewish riots in several Spanish cities. Thousands of Jews were forcibly baptized. The Church viewed these baptisms as valid because the Spanish Jews had freely chosen baptism over death, unlike Jews in France and Germany during the first and second crusades, who chose to kill themselves rather than be baptized. Over the next three generations there were additional riots that led to more forcible baptisms.

Of course, Jews forced to be Christians didn’t stop believing in Judaism, but they had to practice, and teach their children, in secret. The Church knew this but thought that all Marrano (as secret Jews were called) children and grandchildren would be indoctrinated in the true faith and become believers. This did not happen.

In 1480 the Inquisition began holding trials in Spain. Over the next two centuries thousands of people would be tried/tortured, and imprisoned or executed. In 1492 all unbaptized Jews in Spain were exiled. Over 100,000 Jews left Spain, most of them going to Portugal. In 1497, they were expelled from Portugal, but first all their children were forcibly baptized, so parents who didn’t want to lose their children had to remain and freely choose baptism.

Decades later many secret Jews, or their children, found freedom in the new world. When the Inquisition was established in Lima (1570) and in Mexico City (1571) secret Jews fled to all parts of central and south America to escape. Latinos who are drawn to Jews and Judaism have a Jewish soul from one of these ancestors. (see: A History of the Marranos by Cecil Roth and God, Sex and Kabbalah by Rabbi Allen S. Maller)

Many non-Jews married to Jews who learn of their Semitic ancestry through DNA tests often end up converting to Judaism. Elliot Dorff, a conservative rabbi at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, welcomes these conversions. “We would really want to encourage such people to rediscover their Jewish roots,” he said.

Although non-Jewish people who find Jewish origins through DNA are not strictly Jewish, halachically speaking, Rabbi Dorff noted that many people in this situation already feel a deep-seated connection to the Jewish religion.

Now tens of thousands of Spanish and Portuguese speakers who are descendants of Jews who were forcibly baptized during the 15th century are being attracted to Jews and Judaism because they have Jewish souls and are now returning to the Jewish people.

If you know any Latino married to a Jew please tell him or her about this simple test that usually indicates when a non-Jewish person has a Jewish soul.

1- You like to ask questions? But when you asked them as a child, you were told faith is a gift from God and you shouldn’t question it. This never satisfied you, although others didn’t seem to have a problem with this view.

2- The trinity never made any sense to you even as a young child. You prayed to God the father more easily than Jesus the son of God, even though you were told to pray to Jesus. You could not believe that people who didn’t believe in Jesus wouldn’t go to Heaven.

3- You found you related well to Jewish people you met at work or at school even though they were culturally different from your own family.

4- When you first learned about the Holocaust you reacted more emotionally than did other members of your own family.

5- When you started to learn about Judaism the ideas and values seemed reasonable and the traditions and heritage seemed attractive. You felt that at last you were coming home.

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 850 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
Related Topics
Related Posts