Atlantis Online

Ancient Mediterranean Cultures => Israelities & the Kabbalah => Topic started by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:13:16 pm

Title: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:13:16 pm

                                     Sephardic Jews leave genetic legacy in Spain

By Teresa Larraz
Dec. 5, 2008

— From the 15th century on, Spain's Jews were mostly expelled or forced to convert, but today some 20 percent of Spanish men tested have Sephardic Jewish ancestry, and 11 percent can be traced to North Africa, a study has found.

"These values are surprisingly high," the researchers wrote in their report, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

They checked the Y chromosome, a stretch of DNA carried only by men and passed down with little change from father to son. Mutations in this gene can be used to trace ancestry, and some have been clearly linked to Sephardic Jewish and northern African populations.

"The genetic composition of the current population is the legacy of our diverse cultural and religious past," one of the report's authors, Francesc Calafell, from the evolutionary biology faculty at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, said on Friday.

Along with researchers from Britain's University of Leicester and Wellcome Trust, the scientists analyzed DNA samples from 1,140 men in Spain, Portugal and the Balearic Islands and compared them to Moroccans, Algerians, and Sephardic Jews in Istanbul and Israel.

"The work shows that religious conversions and subsequent marriages between people of different lines had a significant impact on modern populations both in the Balearic Islands and in Portugal," Elena Bosch of the University of Leicester said in a statement.

One of the most surprising findings is the percentage of Spanish genes whose origin can be traced to Sephardic Jews, although Spain had a relatively small Jewish population compared to its Moorish population.

Some of these genes may pre-date the Sephardic Jewish culture, the researchers said, noting that the Phoenicians also share some of the genetic characteristics.

The Moors invaded the Iberian peninsula in 711 and remained until defeated in battle by the so-called Catholic Monarchs in 1492. Moorish influence is still very noticeable in Spain's language, architecture, music and other aspects of its culture.

Jews lived in Spain before the Moors arrived and although small in number played a significant cultural and economic role.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Spain in various repressive moves, started by the Catholic Monarchs. The study suggests many Jews converted rather than face repression.

Some Sephardic communities to this day speak Ladino, which is similar to medieval Spanish and can be understood by present-day Spaniards.

(Reporting by Teresa Larraz, writing by Sarah Morris, editing by Maggie Fox and Michael Roddy)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:17:59 pm

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:26:08 pm

                                                      S E P H A R D I   J E W S

יהדות ספרד (Yahadut Sfarad)

1st row: Maimonides•Isaac Abrabanel•Baruch Spinoza•David Nieto•Daniel Mendoza•David Ricardo

2nd row: Moses Montefiore•Benjamin Disraeli•Sabato Morais•Emma Lazarus•Benjamin Cardozo•David de Sola Pool

3rd row: Basil Henriques•Pierre Mendès-France•Sam Costa•Jacques Derrida•Shlomo Amar•Hank Azaria

Total population
Sephardi Jews

1.5 - 2.0 million (estimate)
up to 20% of the total 'Jewish World' population

Regions with significant populations

 Israel 725,000 

 France 350,000
 United States 80,000 

 Argentina 60,000 

 Canada 60,000 

 Brazil 60,000
 Mexico 40,000 

 Venezuela 35,000
 Uruguay 30,000
 Italy 30,000
 Turkey 25,000 

 Georgia 13,000
 Spain 12,000 

 Greece 8,500
 Azerbaijan 7,000
 Morocco 5,500
 Bulgaria 5,000 

 Colombia 5,000
 Cuba 3,500
 Serbia 3,000 

 Croatia 3,000 

 Peru 3,000 

 Tunisia 2,000 

 Ireland 2,000 

 Puerto Rico 1,500 

 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1,200
 Netherlands 1,000 

 Portugal 500 

 Republic of Macedonia 200
 Egypt 100 

 South Korea 100 







local languages



Related ethnic groups

Ashkenazi Jews,

Mizrahi Jews,

other Jewish ethnic divisions,




Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:31:44 pm

Sephardi Jews (Hebrew: ספרדי‎, Standard Səfardi Tiberian Səp̄arədî; plural ספרדים, Standard Səfaradim Tiberian Səp̄arədîm; Spanish Sefardíes; Portuguese Sefarditas, Judaeo-Spanish Sefardies) are a subgroup of Jews originating in the Iberian Peninsula, usually defined in contrast to Ashkenazi or Mizrahi Jews.

A Sephardi is a Jew with family origins in the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal). This includes both the descendants of Jews expelled from Spain under the Alhambra decree of 1492, or from Portugal by order of King Manuel I in 1497 and the descendants of crypto-Jews who left the Peninsula in later centuries. In modern times, the term has also been applied to Jews who may not have been born Sephardi (or even Jewish) but attend Sephardic temples and practice Sephardic traditions. Today there are around 12,000 Jews in Spain and 500 in Portugal.[1]

The name comes from Sepharad (Hebrew: ספרד, Standard Səfárad Tiberian Səp̄áraḏ / Səp̄āraḏ ; Turkish: Sefarad), a Biblical location.[2] This was probably the "Saparda" mentioned in Persian inscriptions: the location of that is disputed, but may have been Sardis in Asia Minor. "Sepharad" was identified by later Jews as the Iberian Peninsula, and still means "Spain" in modern Hebrew.

For religious purposes, and in modern Israel, "Sephardim" is often used in a wider sense to include most Jews of Asian and African origin, who use a Sephardic style of liturgy. This article is mostly concerned with Sephardim in the narrower ethnic sense, rather than in this broader Modern Israeli Hebrew definition. See also: Jewish ethnic divisions.

The term Sephardi can also describe the nusach (Hebrew language, "liturgical tradition") used by Sephardi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book). A nusach is defined by a liturgical tradition's choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers. Sephardim traditionally pray using Minhag Sefarad, which is quite similar to Nusach Edot haMizrach (liturgy of the Eastern Congregations). For more details of the Sephardic liturgy see Sephardic Judaism.

Note that the term Nusach Sefard or Nusach Sfarad does not refer to the liturgy generally recited by Sephardim, but rather to an alternative Eastern European liturgy used by many Hasidim.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:38:58 pm

Historically, Sephardim are those Jews associated with the Iberian peninsula.

The most prominent sub-group consists of the descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, who settled in various parts of the Ottoman Empire, in particular Salonica and Istanbul, and whose traditional language is Judaeo-Spanish, sometimes known as Ladino.

Another branch settled in Northern Morocco, and spoke a variant of Judaeo-Spanish known as Haketia.

A third sub-group, known as Spanish and Portuguese Jews, consists of Jews whose families remained in Spain and Portugal as ostensible Christians, and later reverted to Judaism in Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Germany, England or the New World, particularly Mexico, the Caribbean and South America.

From the perspective of the present day, these sub-groups look in retrospect like separate branches, each with its own traditions, though some degree of merger is taking place as Spanish and Portuguese congregations increasingly include Jews of other backgrounds.

In earlier centuries, and as late as the editing of the Jewish Encyclopedia at the beginning of the twentieth century, they were usually regarded as together forming a continuum, with the Jewish community of Livorno acting as the clearing-house of personnel and traditions between the three sub-groups as well as the main publishing centre.

In some ways the relationship was a symbiotic one, with the Western (Spanish and Portuguese) sub-group contributing the publishing facilities, the secular learning and the political protection and the other two sub-groups contributing the religious learning.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:42:41 pm

For religious purposes, the term Sephardim means all Jews who use a Sephardic style of liturgy, and therefore includes most Jews of Arabic and Persian background, whether or not they have any historical or ethnographic connection to the Iberian peninsula.

Most of these communities (with some exceptions such as the Yemenites) do in fact use much the same religious ritual as the Sephardim proper and, like them, base their religious law on the Shulchan Aruch without the glosses of Moses Isserles. When used in this sense, "Sephardim" should be translated not as "Spanish Jews" but as "Jews of the Spanish rite". (In the same way, Ashkenazim means "Jews of the German rite", whether or not their families actually originate in Germany.)

Accordingly, in the vernacular of modern-day Jews in Israel and worldwide, especially many Ashkenazi Jews, "Sephardi" has come to be used as an umbrella term for any Jewish person who is not Ashkenazi.

This nomenclature is often perceived as unsatisfactory, and a variety of other terms have been coined. For example, Jews of Arabic-speaking backgrounds are sometimes referred to as Musta'arabim or "Arab Jews", though for political reasons this last description is disputed.

A term in common use for all Jewish communities historically associated with Africa and Asia and not of Spanish descent is Mizrahim, which in Hebrew means "Orientals". In current use, Mizrahi Jews is a convenient way to refer collectively to a wide range of Jewish communities, most of which are as unrelated to each other as they are to either the Sephardi (in the narrower sense) or Ashkenazi communities. They include in particular the communities living in, or coming from, Southern Arabia (Yemen), North Africa, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Syria, Persia (Iran) and India.

The distinction between Sephardim and Mizrahim is not watertight as many communities (e.g. Syrian
and Moroccan Jews) are ethnically speaking a mixture between native Arab Jews and later arrivals from Spain and Portugal.

Moroccans in particular sometimes object to being called "Mizrahim", given that it makes no geographical sense to describe Morocco as "eastern". In Arabic the equivalent term (Mashriqiyyun) specifically denotes the inhabitants of the Near East as opposed to those of North Africa (Maghrabiyyun).

 Conversely Turkish Jews, who are mostly of Spanish descent and therefore ethnic Sephardim, are geographically "easterners" and could logically be called "Mizrahim".

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:44:13 pm

Prior to 1492, substantial Jewish populations existed in most Spanish provinces. Among the more prominent were in Toledo, Córdoba, and Granada. Smaller towns such as Ocaña, Guadalajara, Bentrago, and Almazan were founded or inhabited principally by Jews. Castile, Aranda, Ávila, Calahorra, Cuellar, Herrera, Medina, Segovia, Soria, and Villalon were home to large Jewish communities. Aragon and Catalonia had substantial Jewish communities in the famous Calls of Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca.

Following the 1492 expulsion from Spain, and the subsequent expulsions in Portugal (1497), these Jews, the nascent Sephardim, settled mainly in Morocco, the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey, Greece, Southwest Asia, North Africa and Bosnia and Herzegovina), southern France, Italy, Spanish North America, (Southwest United States and Mexico), Spanish South America and the Philippines and Portuguese Brazil, as well as the Netherlands (whence a number of families continued on to the former Dutch possessions of Curaçao, Suriname and Aruba), England, Germany, Denmark, Austria and Hungary.

As a result of the Jewish exodus from Arab lands, many of the Sephardim from the Middle East relocated to either Israel or France, where they form a significant portion of the Jewish communities today. Other significant communities also exist in New York City, Argentina, and Montreal, Canada.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:45:26 pm

The traditional language of the majority of Sephardim is Judeo-Spanish, also called Ladino. It is a Romance language derived mainly from Old Castilian (Spanish) and Old Portuguese, with many borrowings from Turkish, and to a lesser extent from Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and French. Until recently, two different dialects of Judeo-Spanish were spoken in the Mediterranean region: Eastern Judeo-Spanish (in various distinctive regional variations) and Western or North African Judeo-Spanish (also known as Ḥakitía), once spoken, with little regional distinction, in six towns in Northern Morocco and, because of later emigration, also in Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish cities in North Africa), Gibraltar (Great Britain´s colony), Casablanca (Morocco), and Oran (Algeria).

The Eastern dialect is typified by its greater conservatism, its retention of numerous Old Spanish features in phonology, morphology, and lexicon, and its numerous borrowings from Turkish and, to a lesser extent, also from Greek and South Slavic. Both dialects have (or had) numerous borrowings from Hebrew, especially in reference to religious matters, but the number of Hebraisms in everyday speech or writing is in no way comparable to that found in Yiddish.

The North African dialect was, until the early 20th century, also highly conservative; its abundant Colloquial Arabic loan words retained most of the Arabic phonemes as functional components of a new, enriched Hispano-Semitic phonological system. During the Spanish colonial occupation of Northern Morocco (1912-1956), Ḥakitía was subjected to pervasive, massive influence from Modern Standard Spanish and most Moroccan Jews now speak a colloquial, Andalusian form of Spanish, with only an occasional use of the old language as a sign of in-group solidarity, somewhat as American Jews may now use an occasional Yiddishism in colloquial speech. Except for certain younger individuals, who continue to practice Ḥakitía as a matter of cultural pride, this splendid dialect—the most Arabized of the Romance languages—has essentially ceased to exist.

Eastern Judeo-Spanish has fared somewhat better, especially in Israel, where newspapers, radio broadcasts, and elementary school and university programs strive to keep the language alive. But the old regional variations (Bosnia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Turkey, for instance) are already either extinct or doomed to extinction. The best we can perhaps hope for is that a Judeo-Spanish koiné, now evolving in Israel—similar to that which developed among Sephardic immigrants to the United States early in the 20th century—may somehow prevail and survive into the next generation.[3]

Judeo-Portuguese (Lusitanic) has been conserved by the crypto-Jewish marranos of Portugal and Brazil and is still spoken by a few of them.[citation needed] It is also spoken by Sephardim still remaining in Turkey and amongst the Sephardi immigrants of Israel of Portuguese and Brazilian descent.

Judeo-Portuguese has also been used by Sephardim — especially among the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Western Europe. The pidgin forms of Portuguese spoken among slaves and their Sephardic owners were an influence in the development of Papiamento and the Creole languages of Suriname.

Other Romance languages with Jewish forms, spoken historically by Sephardim, include Judæo-Aragonese, and Catalanic (Judæo-Catalan).

Other languages associated with Sephardic Jews are mostly extinct, i.e., formerly spoken by some Sephardic communities in Italy. Low German (Low Saxon), formerly used as the vernacular by Sephardim around Hamburg and Altona in Northern Germany, is also no longer in use as a specifically Jewish vernacular.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:50:36 pm

The precise origins of the Jewish communities of the Iberian peninsula are unclear. There is fragmentary and inconclusive evidence of a Jewish presence on the Iberian Peninsula dating from pre-Roman times. More substantial references date from the period of Roman occupation.

Evidence which suggests Jewish connections with the Iberian Peninsula includes:

References in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, I Kings, and Jonah to the country of Tarshish, which is thought by many to have been located in modern southern Spain (in ancient Tartessus).

A signet ring found at Cadiz, dating from the 8th-7th century BCE. The inscription on the ring, generally accepted as Phoenician, has been interpreted by a few scholars to be "paleo-hebraic."

An amphora dating from at least the first century CE found in Ibiza, which bears imprints of two Hebrew characters.

Several early Jewish writers wrote that their families had lived in Spain since the destruction of the first temple. The famous Don Isaac Abravanel (1407-1508) stated that the Abravanel family had lived on the Iberian Peninsula for 2,000 years.

It is thought that substantial Jewish immigration probably occurred during the period of Roman occupation of Hispania. The province came under Roman control with the fall of Carthage after the Second Punic War (218-202 BCE). Exactly how soon after this time Jews made their way onto the scene in this context is a matter of speculation. It is within the realm of possibility that they went there under the Romans as free men to take advantage of its rich resources.

Although the spread of Jews into Europe is most commonly associated with the Diaspora which ensued from the Roman conquest of Judea, emigration from Judea into the greater Roman Mediterranean area antedated the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans under Titus. Any Jews already in Hispania at this time would have been joined by those who had been enslaved by the Romans under Vespasian and Titus, and dispersed to the extreme west during the period of the Jewish Wars, and especially after the defeat of Judea in 70 CE One account placed the number carried off to Hispania at 80,000. Subsequent immigrations came into the area along both the northern African and southern European sides of the Mediterranean.

Among the earliest records which may refer specifically to Jews in the Iberian peninsula during the Roman period is Paul's Epistle to the Romans.

Many have taken Paul's intention to go to Hispania to preach the gospel (Romans 15:24, 28) to indicate the presence of Jewish communities there, as well as the fact that Herod Antipas's banishment by Caligula in 39 CE may have been to Hispania.

From a slightly later period, Midrash Rabbah, Leviticus 29.2 makes reference to the return of the Diaspora from Hispania by 165 CE

Perhaps the most direct and substantial of early references are the several decrees of the Council of Elvira, convened in the early fourth century, which address proper Christian behavior with regard to the Jews of Hispania.

As citizens of the Roman Empire, the Jews of Hispania engaged in a variety of occupations, including agriculture. Until the adoption of Christianity, Jews had close relations with non-Jewish populations, and played an active role in the social and economic life of the province.

The edicts of the Synod of Elvira, provide evidence of Jews who were integrated enough into the greater community to cause alarm among some: of the Council's 80 canonic decisions, all which pertain to Jews served to maintain a separation between the two communities.

It seems that by this time the presence of Jews was of greater concern to christian authorities than the presence of pagans; Canon 16, which prohibited marriage of christians with Jews, was worded more strongly than canon 15, which prohibited marriage with pagans. Canon 78 threatens Christians who commit adultery with Jews with ostracism. Canon 48 forbade the blessing of christian crops by Jews, and canon 50 forbade the sharing of meals by Christians and Jews.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:52:49 pm

Yet, in comparison to Jewish life in Byzantium and Italy, life for the early Jews in Hispania and the rest of western Europe was relatively tolerable. This is due in large measure to the difficulty which the Church had in establishing itself in its western frontier.

In the west, Germanic tribes such as the Suevi, the Vandals, and especially the Visigoths had more or less disrupted the political and ecclesiastical systems of the Roman empire, and for several centuries western Jews enjoyed a degree of peace which their brethren to the east did not.

Barbarian invasions brought most of the Iberian Peninsula under Visigothic rule by the early fifth century. Other than in their contempt for Orthodox Christians, who reminded them of the Romans and also because they were Arians, the Visigoths did not generally take much of an interest in the religious creeds within their kingdom. It was not until 506, when Alaric II (484-507) published his Brevarium Alaricianum (Breviary of Alaric) (wherein he adopted the laws of the ousted Romans), that a Visigothic king concerned himself with the Jews.

The situation of the Jews changed after the conversion of the Visigothic royal family under Recared from Arianism to Christianism in 587. In their desire to consolidate the realm under the new religion, the Visigoths adopted an aggressive policy towards Jews. As the king and the church acted in a single interest, the Jews' situation deteriorated. Under successive Visigothic kings and under ecclesiastical authority, many orders of expulsion, forced conversion, isolation, enslavement, execution, and other punitive measures were made. By 612 - 621 CE, the situation for Jews became intolerable and many left Spain for nearby northern Africa. In 711 CE, thousands of Jews from North Africa accompanied the Moslems who invaded Spain, subsuming Catholic Spain and turning much of it into an Arab state, Al-Andalus. (N.H.Finkelstein, p. 13, 14)

The Jews of Hispania had been utterly embittered and alienated by Catholic rule by the time of the Muslim invasion. To them, the Moors were perceived as, and indeed were, a liberating force. Wherever they went, the Muslims were greeted by Jews eager to aid them in administering the country. In many conquered towns the garrison was left in the hands of the Jews before the Muslims proceeded further north. Thus were initiated the two centuries of Muslim rule in the Iberian peninsula which became known as the "Golden Age" of Sephardi Jewry.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:54:39 pm

With the victory of Tariq ibn Ziyad in 711, the lives of the Sephardim changed dramatically. In spite of the stigma attached to being dhimmis (non-Muslim members of monotheistic faiths), the coming of the Moors was by-and-large welcomed by the Jews of Iberia.

Both Muslim and Christian sources tell us that Jews provided valuable aid to the invaders. Once captured, the defense of Cordoba was left in the hands of Jews, and Granada, Malaga, Seville, and Toledo were left to a mixed army of Jews and Moors. Although in some towns Jews may have been helpful to Muslim success, they were of limited impact overall. However it was frequently claimed by Christians in later centuries that the fall of Iberia was due in large part to Jewish perfidy.

In spite of the restrictions placed upon the Jews as dhimmis, life under Muslim rule was one of great opportunity and Jews flourished as they did not under prior Christian Visigoths. Many Jews came to Iberia, seen as a land of tolerance and opportunity, from the Christian and Muslim worlds. Following initial Arab victories, and especially with the establishment of Umayyad rule by Abd al-Rahman I in 755, the native Jewish community was joined by Jews from the rest of Europe, as well as from Arab lands, from Morocco to Babylon. Thus the Sephardim found themselves enriched culturally, intellectually, and religiously by the commingling of diverse Jewish traditions.

Arabic culture, of course, also made a lasting impact on Sephardic cultural development. General re-evaluation of scripture was prompted by Muslim anti-Jewish polemics and the spread of rationalism, as well as the anti-Rabbanite polemics of Karaite sectarianism (which was inspired by various Muslim schismatic movements). The cultural and intellectual achievements of the Arabs, and much of the scientific and philosophical speculation of Ancient Greek culture, which had been best preserved by Arab scholars, was made available to the educated Jew. The meticulous regard which the Arabs had for grammar and style also had the effect of stimulating an interest in philological matters in general among Jews. Arabic came to be the main language of Sephardic science, philosophy, and everyday business, as had been the case with Babylonian geonim. This thorough adoption of the Arabic language also greatly facilitated the assimilation of Jews into Moorish culture, and Jewish activity in a variety of professions, including medicine, commerce, finance, and agriculture increased.

By the ninth century, some members of the Sephardic community felt confident enough to take part in proselytizing amongst Christians. Most famous were the heated correspondences sent between Bodo Eleazar, a former Christian deacon who had converted to Judaism in 838, and the Bishop of Córdoba Paulus Albarus, who had converted from Judaism to Christianity. Each man, using such epithets as "wretched compiler", tried to convince the other to return to his former faith, to no avail.

The Golden Age is most closely identified with the reign of Abd al-Rahman III (882-942), the first independent Caliph of Cordoba, and in particular with the career of his Jewish councilor, Hasdai ibn Shaprut (882-942). Within this context of cultural patronage, studies in Hebrew, literature, and linguistics flourished.

Hasdai benefitted world Jewry not only indirectly by creating a favorable environment for scholarly pursuits within Iberia, but also by using his influence to intervene on behalf of foreign Jews: in his letter to Byzantine Princess Helena, he requested protection for the Jews under Byzantine rule, attesting to the fair treatment of the Christians of al-Andalus, and perhaps indicating that such was contingent on the treatment of Jews abroad.

One notable contribution to Christian intellectualism is Ibn Gabirol's neo-Platonic Fons Vitae ("The Source of Life;" "Mekor Hayyim"). Thought by many to have been written by a Christian, this work was admired by Christians and studied in monasteries throughout the Middle Ages, though the work of Solomon Munk in the 19th century proved that the author of Fons Vitae was the Jewish ibn Gabirol.

In addition to contributions of original work, the Sephardim were active as translators. Texts were translated between Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin. In translating the great works of Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek into Latin, Iberian Jews were instrumental in bringing the fields of science and philosophy, which formed much of the basis of Renaissance learning, into the rest of Europe.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:56:36 pm

In the early 11th century centralized authority based at Cordoba broke down following the Berber invasion and the ousting of the Umayyads. In its stead arose the independent taifa principalities under the rule of local Arab, Berber, or Slavonic leaders. Rather than having a stifling effect, the disintegration of the caliphate expanded the opportunities to Jewish and other professionals. The services of Jewish scientists, doctors, traders, poets, and scholars were generally valued by Christian and Muslim rulers of regional centers, especially as order was restored in recently conquered towns. Rabbi Samuel ha-Nagid (ibn Naghrela) was the Vizier of Granada. He was succeeded by his son Joseph ibn Naghrela who was slain by an incited mob along with most of the Jewish community. The remnant fled to Lucena.

The decline of the Golden Age began before the completion of the Christian Reconquista, with the penetration and influence of the Almoravides, and then the Almohads, from North Africa. These fundamentalist sects abhorred the liberality of the Islamic culture of al-Andalus, including the position of authority which some dhimmis held over Muslims. When the Almohads gave the Jews a choice of either death or conversion to Islam, many Jews emigrated. Some, such the family of Maimonides, fled south and east to the more tolerant Muslim lands, while others went northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms.

Meanwhile the Reconquista continued in the north throughout the 12th century. As various Arab lands fell to the Christians, conditions for some Jews in the emerging Christian kingdoms became increasingly favorable. As had happened during the reconstruction of towns following the breakdown of authority under the Umayyads, the services of Jews were employed by the victorious Christian leaders. Sephardic knowledge of the language and culture of the enemy, their skills as diplomats and professionals, as well as their desire for relief from intolerable conditions - the very same reasons that they had proved useful to the Arabs in the early stages of the Muslim invasion - made their services very valuable.

However, the Jews from the Muslim south were not entirely secure in their northward migrations. Old prejudices were compounded by newer ones. Suspicions of complicity with the Muslims were alive and well as Jews immigrated, speaking Arabic. However, many of the newly-arrived Jews of the north prospered during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. The majority of Latin documentation regarding Jews during this period refers to their landed property, fields, and vineyards.

In many ways life had come full circle for the Sephardim of al-Andalus. As conditions became more oppressive during the 12th and 13th centuries, Jews again looked to an outside culture for relief. Christian leaders of reconquered cities granted them extensive autonomy, and Jewish scholarship recovered somewhat and developed as communities grew in size and importance. However, the Reconquista Jews never reached the same heights as had those of the Golden Age.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 09:59:23 pm

Among the Sephardim were many who were the descendants, or heads, of wealthy families and who, as Marranos, had occupied prominent positions in the countries they had left. Some had been state officials, others had held positions of dignity within the Church; many had been the heads of large banking-houses and mercantile establishments, and some were physicians or scholars who had officiated as teachers in high schools. Their Spanish or Portuguese was a lingua franca that enabled Sephardim from different countries to engage in commerce and diplomacy.

With their social equals they associated freely, without regard to religion and more likely with regard to equivalent or comparative education, for they were generally well read[5] which became a tradition and expectation. They were received at the courts of sultans, kings, and princes, and often were employed as ambassadors, envoys, or agents. The number of Sephardim who have rendered important services to different countries is considerable, from Samuel Abravanel (or "Abrabanel" — financial councilor to the viceroy of Naples) to Benjamin Disraeli. Among other names mentioned are those of Belmonte, Nasi, Francisco Pacheco, Pedro de Herrera, Palache, Pimentel, Azevedo, Sasportas, Salvador, Costa, Curiel, Cansino, Schonenberg, Toledo, Toledano, Pereira and Teixeira.

The Sephardim have distinguished themselves as physicians and statesmen, and have won the favor of rulers and princes, in both the Christian and the Islamic world. That the Sephardim were selected for prominent positions in every country in which they settled was only in part due to the fact that Spanish had become a world-language through the expansion of Spain into the world spanning Spanish Empire—the cosmopolitan cultural background after long associations with Islamic scholars of the Sephardic families also made them extremely well educated for the times, even well into the European Enlightenment.

For a long time the Sephardim took an active part in Spanish literature; they wrote in prose and in rhyme, and were the authors of theological, philosophical, belletristic (aesthetic rather than content based writing), pedagogic (teaching), and mathematical works. The rabbis, who, in common with all the Sephardim, emphasized a pure and euphonious pronunciation of Hebrew, delivered their sermons in Spanish or in Portuguese. Several of these sermons have appeared in print. Their thirst for knowledge, together with the fact that they associated freely with the outer world, led the Sephardim to establish new educational systems wherever they settled; they founded schools in which the Spanish language was the medium of instruction. Theatre in Istanbul was in Judæo-Spanish since it was forbidden to Muslims.

In Portugal the Sephardim were given important roles in the sociopolitical sphere and enjoyed a certain amount of protection from the Crown (e.g. Yahia Ben Yahia, first "Rabino Maior" of Portugal and supervisor of the public revenue of the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques). Even with the increasing pressure from the Catholic Church this state of affairs remained more or less constant and the number of Jews in Portugal grew with those running from Spain.

This changed with the marriage of D. Manuel I of Portugal with the daughter of the Catholic Monarchs of the newly born Spain. In 1497 the Decree ordering the expulsion or forced conversion of all the Jews was passed, and the Sephardim either fled or went into secrecy under the guise of "Cristãos Novos", i.e. New Christians (this Decree was symbolically revoked in 1996 by the Portuguese Parliament). Those who fled to Genoa were only allowed to land provided they received baptism.

Those who were fortunate enough to reach the Ottoman Empire had a better fate: the Sultan Bayezid II sarcastically sent his thanks to Ferdinand for sending him some of his best subjects, thus "impoverising his own lands while enriching his (Bayezid's)". Jews arriving in the Ottoman Empire were mostly resettled in and around Selanik (Thessaloniki in Greek) and to some extent in Istanbul and İzmir.

This was followed by a great massacre of Jews in the city of Lisbon in 1506 and the establishment of the Portuguese Inquisition in 1536. This caused the flight of the Portuguese Jewish community, which continued until the extinction of the Courts of Inquisition in 1821; by then there were very few Jews in Portugal.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 10:01:48 pm

In Amsterdam, where Jews were especially prominent in the seventeenth century on account of their number, wealth, education, and influence, they established poetical academies after Spanish models; two of these were the Academia de los Sitibundos and the Academia de los Floridos. In the same city they also organized the first Jewish educational institution, with graduate classes in which, in addition to Talmudic studies, instruction was given in the Hebrew language. The most important synagogue, or Esnoga, as it is usually called amongst Spanish and Portuguese Jews, is the Amsterdam Esnoga — usually considered the "mother synagogue", and the historical centre of the Amsterdam minhag.

A sizable Sephardic community had settled in Morocco and other Northern African countries, which were colonized by France in the 19th century. Jews in Algeria were given French citizenship in 1870 by the décret Crémieux (previously Jews and Muslims could apply for French citizenship, but had to renounce the use of traditional religious courts and laws, which many did not want to do). When France withdrew from Algeria in 1962, the local Jewish communities largely relocated to France. There are some tensions between some of those communities and the earlier French Jewish population (who were mostly Ashkenazi Jews), and with Arabic-Muslim communities.

Today, the Sephardim have preserved the romances and the ancient melodies and songs of Spain and Portugal, as well as a large number of old Portuguese and Spanish proverbs.[6] A number of children's plays, like, for example, El Castillo, are still popular among them, and they still manifest a fondness for the dishes peculiar to Iberia, such as the pastel, or pastelico, a sort of meat-pie, and the pan de España, or pan de León. At their festivals they follow the Spanish custom of distributing dulces, or dolces, a confection wrapped in paper bearing a picture of the magen David (six pointed star). Amada.

In Mexico, the Sephardim community numbers approximately 5,500 and they originated mainly from Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. In 1942 the Cologio Hebreo Tarbut was founded in collaboration with the Ashkenazi family and instruction was in Yiddish. In 1944 the Sephardim community established a separate "Colegio Hebreo Sefaradí Tarbut" with 90 students where instruction was in Hebrew and complemented with classes on Jewish customs. By 1950 there were 500 students. In 1968 a group of young Sephardim created the group Tnuat Noar Jinujit Dor Jadash in support for the creation of the state of Israel. In 1972 the Majazike Tora institute is created aiming to prepare young male Jews for their Bar Mitzva (History of the Sephardim Community in Mexico).

While the majority of American Jews today are Ashkenazim, in Colonial times Sephardim made up the majority of the Jewish population. For example, the 1654 Jews who arrived in New Amsterdam fled from the colony of Recife, Brazil after the Portuguese seized it from the Dutch. Through most of the 18th Century, American synagogues conducted and recorded their business in Portuguese, even if their daily language was English. It was not until widespread German immigration to the United States in the 19th Century that the tables turned and Ashkenazim (initially from Germany but by the 20th Century from Eastern Europe) began to dominate the American Jewish landscape.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 10:07:12 pm

The Sephardim usually followed the general rules for Spanish and Portuguese names. They generally bear Portuguese and Spanish names. Many of the names are associated with non-Jewish (Christian) families and individuals, and are by no means exclusive to Jews. After 1492, many marranos changed their names to hide their Jewish origins and avoid persecution. It was common to choose the name of the Parish Church where they have been baptised into the Christian faith, such as Santa Cruz or the common name of the word "Messiah" (Salvador), or adopted the name of their Christian godparents.[7]

In contrast to Ashkenazic Jews, who do not name newborn children after living relatives, Sephardic Jews often name their children after the children's grandparents, even if they are still alive. The first son and daughter are traditionally named after the paternal grandparents, and then the maternal parent's names are next up in line for the remaining children.

After that, additional children's names are "free", so to speak, meaning that one can choose whatever name, without any more "naming obligations." The only instance in which Sephardic Jews will not name after their own parents when one of the spouses shares a common first name with a mother/father-in-law (since Jews will not name their children after themselves.) There are times though when the "free" names are used to honor the memory of a deceased relative who died young or childless. These conflicting naming conventions can be troublesome when children are born into mixed Ashkenazic-Sephardic households.

A notable exception to the distinct Ashkenazi and Sephardi naming traditions is found among Dutch Jews, where Ashkenazim have for centuries followed the tradition otherwise attributed to Sephardim. See Chuts.

Other Sephardic pedigrees
















Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 10:09:23 pm


Great authority was given to the president of each congregation. He and the rabbinate of his congregation formed the "ma'amad," without whose approbation (often worded in Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian) no book of religious content might be published. The president not only had the power to make authoritative resolutions with regard to congregational affairs and to decide communal questions, but he had also the right to observe the religious conduct of the individual and to punish anyone suspected of heresy or of trespassing against the laws.

Sephardic Chief Rabbis in Israel

(also styled Rishon Le-Zion)

Ya'akov Meir : (23 Feb 1921 - 1939)

Benzion Meir Chai Uziel : (1939 - 1954)

Yitzhak Nissim : (1955 - 1972)

Ovadiah Yosef : (1972 - 1983)
Mordechai Eliyahu : (1983 - 1993)

Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron : (1993 - 3 Apr 2003)

She'ar-Yashuv Cohen (acting) : (3 Apr 2003 - 14 Apr 2003)

Shlomo Amar : (14 Apr 2003 - present)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 06, 2008, 10:11:14 pm


There is a higher incidence of certain hereditary diseases and inherited disorders in Sephardi Jews. The most important ones are:


Familial Mediterranean fever

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and Gilbert's Syndrome

Glycogen storage disease type III

Machado-Joseph disease

See also Jewish Genetics Center about testing.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:29:51 pm

                                                             S E E   A L S O



Jewish ethnic divisions

Sephardic Judaism

Spanish and Portuguese Jews


Sephardi Hebrew




Sephardic music

Cuisine of the Sephardic Jews




Trees Cry for Rain

Island of Roses

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:31:51 pm


Golden age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula

History of the Jews in Portugal

Portuguese Inquisition
Goa Inquisition

History of the Jews in Spain

Spanish Inquisition

The Alhambra Decree

Marrano and Crypto-Judaism

New Christian



History of the Jews in the Netherlands

Sephardic Jews in the Netherlands

History of the Jews in Latin America

History of the Jews in England

History of the Marranos in England

History of the Jews in India

History of the Jews in Greece

History of the Jews in Turkey

History of the Jews in Morocco

Jews of the Bilad el-Sudan (West Africa)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:34:40 pm

Famous People

Baruch Spinoza

Benjamin Disraeli

Sir Moses Montefiore

Benjamin N. Cardozo

Enrico Fermi

Elias Canetti

Garcia de Orta

Gracia Mendes Nasi

Isaac Abrabanel

Isaac de Pinto

Judah Leon Abravanel


Menasseh Ben Israel

Pedro Nunes

Uriel da Costa

Pierre Mendès France

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:36:24 pm


^ 2006 Jewish statistics around the world

^ Obadiah, 1-20: And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. (KJV)

^ Samuel G. Armistead, "Oral Literature of the Sephardic Jews,"

^ Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2.9.6. However, the place of banishment is identified in Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews as Gaul; for discussion, see Emil Schürer (1973). The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ: Volume I (revised English edition ed.). Edinburgh: T&T Clark. pp. 352 n. 41. ISBN 0-567-02242-0. 

^ Flint, Eric. 1632. 1632 series (1st, (hc) ed.). Riverdale, NY 10471: Baen Books. pp. various (of 504). ISBN ISBN 0-671-57849-9. 

^ For the largest online collection of Sephardic folk literature, visit Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews.

^ Roth, Cecil. A History of the Marranos, Schocken Books. ISBN 978-0805204636. 

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:38:45 pm


Ashtor, Eliyahu, The Jews of Moslem Spain, Vol. 2, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America (1979)

Assis, Yom Tov, The Jews of Spain: From Settlement to Expulsion, Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem|The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1988)

Baer, Yitzhak. A History of the Jews of Christian Spain. 2 vols. Jewish Publication Society of America (1966).

Bartlett, John R., Jews in the Hellenistic World: Josephus, Aristeas, The Sibylline Oracles, Eupolemus, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1985)

Bowers, W. P. "Jewish Communities in Spain in the Time of Paul the Apostle" in Journal of Theological Studies Vol. 26 Part 2, October 1975, pp. 395-402

Dan, Joseph, "The Epic of a Millennium: Judeo-Spanish Culture's Confrontation" in Judaism Vol. 41, No. 2, Spring 1992

Encyclopaedia Judaica Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, Ltd. (1971)

Finkelstein, Norman H. "The Other 1492: Jewish Settlement in the New World." Beech Tree Books (1989)
Gampel, Benjamin R., "Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Medieval Iberia: Convivencia through the Eyes of Sephardic Jews," in Convivencia: Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Spain, ed. Vivian B. Mann, Thomas F. Glick, and Jerrilynn D. Dodds, New York: George Braziller, Inc. (1992)

Graetz, Professor H. History of the Jews, Vol. III Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America (1894)

Halkin, Abraham, "The Medieval Jewish Attitude toward Hebrew," in Biblical and Other Studies, ed. Alexander Altmann, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press (1963)

Kaplan, Yosef, An Alternative Path to Modernity: The Sephardi Diaspora in Western Europe. Brill Publishers (2000). ISBN 9004117423

Katz, Solomon, Monographs of the Mediaeval Academy of America No. 12: The Jews in the Visigothic and Frankish Kingdoms of Spain and Gaul, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Mediaeval Society of America (1937)

Kedourie, Elie, editor. Spain and the Jews: The Sephardi Experience 1492 and After. Thames & Hudson (1992).

Lacy, W. K. and Wilson, B. W. J. G., trans., Res Publica: Roman Politics and Society according to Cicero, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1970)
Laeuchli, Samuel Power and Sexuality: The Emergence of Canon Law at the Synod of Elvira, Philadelphia: Temple University Press (1972)

Leon, Harry J., The Jews of Ancient Rome Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America (1960)
Mann, Jacob Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature I Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press (1931)

Raphael, Chaim, The Sephardi Story: A Celebration of Jewish History London: Valentine Mitchell & Co. Ltd. (1991)

Sarna, Nahum M., "Hebrew and Bible Studies in Medieval Spain" in Sephardi Heritage, Vol. 1 ed. R. D. Barnett, New York: Ktav Publishing House, Inc. (1971)

Sassoon, Solomon David, "The Spiritual Heritage of the Sephardim," in The Sephardi Heritage, Vol. 1 ed. R. D. Barnett, New York: Ktav Publishing House Inc. (1971)

Scherman, Rabbi Nosson and Zlotowitz, Rabbi Meir eds., History of the Jewish People: The Second Temple Era, Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. (see ArtScroll) (1982)

Stillman, Norman, "Aspects of Jewish Life in Islamic Spain" in Aspects of Jewish Culture in the Middle Ages ed. Paul E. Szarmach, Albany: State University of New York Press (1979)

Stillman, Norman. The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Jewish Publication Society of America, (1979)

Swetschinski, Daniel. Reluctant Cosmopolitans: The Portuguese Jews of Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam. Litmann Library of Jewish Civilization, (2000)

Whiston, A. M., trans., The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Company (19??)

Zolitor, Jeff, "The Jews of Sepharad" Philadelphia: Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations (CSJO) (1997) ("The Jews of Sepharad" reprinted with permission on CSJO website.)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:40:53 pm

External links

European Sephardic Institute

International Sephardic Education Foundation

International Sephardic Journal

International Sephardic Leadership Council

Radio Sefarad an internet radio broadcasting from Madrid; includes Huellas, a weekly program for those looking for the origins of their Sephardic surnames

Sephardic Jews in Jamaica

Turkish Sephardi Şalom Newspaper

Sephardic Pizmonim Project

Sephardic Dating Project

Meyrav Wurmser: Post-Zionism and the Sephardi Question

Sephardic names translated into English

From Andalusian Orangeries to Anatolia

Sephardic Jewish History - Iberian Peninsula (American Sephardi Federation)
Songs of the Sephardic Jewish Women of Morocco Internet Radio Show featuring field recordings of Sephardic Jewish Women in Tangier & Tetuan, 1954 w/ song texts translated into English.

Pascua Marrana. Surname Rojas/Shajor/black sefardim

Sepharadim in the Nineteenth Century: New Directions and Old Values by Jose Faur, outlining the positive yet traditionalist responses to modernity typical of the Sepharadi Jewish community

Sepharadi Thought in the Presence of the European Enlightenment by Jose Faur, identifying the difference in reaction to the European Enlightenment among Sepharadi and Ashkenazi communities
Anti-Semitism in the Sepharadi Mind by Jose Faur, describing the cultural response of Sepharadim to anti-Semitism

Sefarad, Journal on Hebraic, Sephardim and Middle East Studies, ILC, CSIC (scientific articles in Spanish, English and other languages)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:45:07 pm

                                                         Jews and Judaism

Denominations Schisms ·

Intra-Jewish relations · Orthodox · (Haredi · Hasidic · Modern Orthodox) · Conservative · Reform · Reconstructionist · Jewish Renewal · Rabbinic · Karaite · Samaritan · Humanistic

Philosophy Principles of faith

· Chosen people · Eschatology · Ethics · Halakha · Holocaust theology · Kabbalah · Kashrut · Messianism · Minyan · Mussar Movement · Names of God · Seven Laws of Noah · Tzedakah · Tzniut

Religious texts

Tanakh (Torah · Nevi'im · Ketuvim) · Arba'ah Turim · Chumash · Kuzari · Midrash · Mishnah Berurah · Mishneh Torah · Piyyut · Rabbinic works · Shulchan Aruch · Siddur · Talmud · Tosefta · Zohar

Jewish leadership

Abraham · Isaac · Jacob · Sarah · Rebecca · Rachel · Leah · Moses · Deborah · Ruth · David · Solomon · Elijah · Hillel · Shammai · Judah haNasi · Saadia Gaon · Rashi · Isaac Alfasi · Abraham ibn Ezra · Tosafists · Rambam · Nahmanides · Asher ben Jehiel · Gersonides · Joseph Albo · Yosef Karo · Baal Shem Tov · Shneur Zalman of Liadi · Vilna Gaon · Leopold Zunz · Israel Jacobson · Abraham Geiger · Ben Ish Chai · Avrohom Mordechai Alter · Ovadia Yosef · Moshe Feinstein · Elazar Shach · Menachem Schneerson

Life and culture Who is a Jew?

· Bar and Bat Mitzvah · Bereavement · Brit milah · Etymology of the word Jew · Marriage · Wedding · Niddah · Pidyon HaBen · Secular Jewish culture · Hiloni · Shidduch · Zeved habat

Roles and places

Four Holy Cities (Jerusalem · Safed · Hebron · Tiberias) · Beth din · Gabbai · Hazzan · Kohen · Maggid · Mashgiach · Mikvah · Mohel · Rabbi · Rebbe · Rosh yeshiva · Synagogue · Temple · Tabernacle · Western Wall

Religious articles

Aleinu · Amidah · Four Species · Gartel · Hallel · Havdalah · Kaddish · Kittel · Kol Nidre · Ma Tovu · Menorah (Hanukiah) · Mezuzah · Prayer · Sefer Torah · Services · Shema Yisrael · Shofar · Tallit · Tefillin · Tzitzit · Yad · Kippah/Yarmulke

Other religions

Jewish views of religious pluralism · Abrahamic religions · Christianity (Catholicism · Christian-Jewish reconciliation · Judeo-Christian · Mormonism) · Islam · Jewish Buddhist · Judeo-Paganism · Others


Hebrew · Judeo-Arabic · Judeo-Aramaic · Judeo-Persian · Ladino · Yiddish


Ancient · Temple in Jerusalem · Babylonian captivity · Jerusalem (Significance · Timeline) · Hasmonean · Herod · Sanhedrin · Pharisees · Saducees · Essenes · First Jewish-Roman War · Bar Kokhba revolt · Diaspora · Middle Ages · Muslim rule · Sabbateans · Haskalah · Emancipation · The Holocaust · Aliyah · Israel (History) · Arab-Israeli / Israeli-Palestinian conflicts · Land of Israel · Baal teshuva movement · History of the Jews in Jamaica


Zionism (General · Labor · Religious · Revisionist) · Political movements (Jewish left · Jewish right · Jewish anarchism) · General Jewish Labor Union · World Agudath Israel · Feminism · Politics of Israel


History · Persecution · New · Racial · Religious · Secondary


Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:46:56 pm

                                           THE SEPHARDIC JEWS IN PORTUGAL

                                                   Crypto Jews of Portugal

The Jews that integrated into Portuguese Christian society were able to retain relative autonomy and their own organization by a delicate balance of compromise, concession and interdependence, until the 15th. century.

According to legend, the first Jews came to the Iberian Peninsula at the time of Nabucodonosor, King of the Chaldeans (6th century) or even before, at the time of Solomon who reigned in Israel from 974B.C. to 937B.C. While these hypotheses may lie in the legendary domain, it has been ascertained that the Jewish presence in Iberia preceded and accompanied that of the Romans.

From the 5th. century onward the Jews reinforced their position and remained active in Peninsular society during the Visigoth and Muslim periods of occupation.

When the kingdom of Portugal was formed, in the 12th century, there were already a number of important Jewish communities in several cities re-conquered by the Christians.

Generally speaking, Portuguese Jews enjoyed the protection of the Crown during the first dynasty. D. Afonso Henriques entrusted Yahia Ben Yahi III with the post of supervisor of tax collection and nominated him the first chief rabbi of Portugal. D. Sancho I (1185-1211)continued the same policy as his father, making Jose Ben Yahia, the grandson of Yahia Ben Yahia, High Steward of the Realm.

The clergy, however, invoking the restrictions of the Lateran Council, brought considerable pressure to bear against the Jews during the reign of D.Dinis (1279-1325), but the monarch maintained a conciliatory position.

Later, anti-Jewish movements became increasingly apparent in the Iberian Peninsula during the political crisis of 1383-1385, which accentuated the rivalries between Portugal and Castile. The crisis culminated in the establishment of the Avis dynasty and the accession of Joao I to the throne. In 1391, serious incidents between Christians and Jews in Seville and other places, provoked a growing wave of Jewish migration from Spain to a welcoming Portugal. Thus, the beginning of the second dynasty (1385) also initiated a new era for the Portuguese-Jewish population which was to embark on a period of great prosperity.

In the period 1279 to 1383, there were some 31 communes in various parts of the country, but in the 15th century this number increased so rapidly that soon there were 135 judiarias or Jewish quarters in different places.

Nevertheless, if this was the golden age of the Jewish community in Portugal, when crucially important contributions were made to the development of the county at the economic, cultural and scientific level, it was also a period during which the first, major social tensions between Jews and Christians were to appear.

Intolerance largely stemmed from the emerging mercantile, middle class which was alarmed by the not inconsiderable competition of Jewish capital.

During the reign of King Joao I (1385-1432) decrees were passed which required Jews to wear a special habit with a distinctive emblem and to obey a curfew at night. In the reign of D. Duarte, from 1433-1438, laws were introduced which prevented Jews from employing Christians. D.Afonso V, however, was to return to the more tolerant policy of the first dynasty and some of the rights that had been withdrawn were restored, particularly those which allowed Jews to hold public office.

In 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain signed a decree expelling all Jews who refused to be converted to Christianity. A considerable number moved into Portugal where the king authorized their entry on payment of 8 cruzados a head, and on the understanding that after 8 months they would move on elsewhere.

The measures taken by D.Manuel I, (1495-1521) were as complex as they were ambiguous. At first the king maintained a neutral attitude and revoked the decree of his predecessor, freeing Jews who had been made slaves. However, on drawing up his marriage contract with the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabells, he yielded to the demands of Spain and agreed to expel the Jews from the kingdom. The decree, signed in December of 1496, anticipated that the departure of the Jews would take place by October of the following year.

Measures were taken to convert Jews to Christianity and to control the ports of exit. Lisbon was the only permissible port of exit and a completely inadequate number of vessels were provided for a mass exodus. In practical terms, the king was fully aware of the advantage to be gained by the Jewish community remaining in the country and did everything to hinder their departure.

These impositions culminated in the creation of New Christians when thousands of Jews who were waiting to leave the country were baptized in Lisbon. The attitude of the king reflected the vicissitudes and contradictions of the policy of Iberian union, in the ambit of which each of the two kingdoms, Spain and Portugal, sought to play a leading role.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:56:25 pm


Those Jews who had been unable to leave Portugal were baptized into the Christian faith and officially designated "New-Christians" to distinguish them from the "Old-Christians."

Many Jews accepted the new religion which had been imposed upon them and with the passage of time gradually adapted to Christian society, but equally there were many others who covertly remained resistent. While they had to all appearances yield, they never abdicated their faith which was passed down from generation to generation, and maintained within a restricted ambit and the family circle, with a degree of religiosity marked by secrecy. These were the crypto-Jews who publically followed Catholic rituals but who, in the privacy of their own homes, maintained their religion and culture and celebrated Hebrew rites on holy days.

During this period, over which the Inquistion cast a long shadow, the term marrano (which means "pig" in popular and archaic language) was used derogatorily by Old Christians when speaking of crypto-Jews. The Court of the Holy Office often took action against the New-Christians or crypto-Jews accusing them of following the Jewish faith, and therefore, of being guilty of apostasy.

Sentences and sanctions imposed by the Inquistion against the accused ranged from public forswearing of the alleged sins, the obligatory wearing of a special penitential habit, a sambenito, to burning at the stake.

Among the Jews who died at the hands of the Inquisition were well-known names of the period such as Isaac de Castro Tartas, Antonio Serrao de Castro and Antonio Jose da Silva, who was known to history as "The Jew."

Apart from the periods during which the activities of the Inquisition were suspended, it was only in the 18th century that its power was completely curtailed with the introduction of the Englightenment policies of the Marquis of Pombal, principal minister to King Jose I (1750-1777). The last public "auto de fe" at which Jews professing their religion were condemned took place in 1765, though the Inquisition was only formally disbanded in 1821.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 12:59:37 pm

                                                        Historical Figures

Abraham Zacuto

(c.1450-c.1522) Author of the famous "Almanach Perpetuum" published in Leiria in 1496, with tables which provided the principal base for Portuguese navigation at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th. He belonged to a family of French origin, which had emigrated to Castille in the 14th century. The expulsion decree of 1492 brought them to Portugal, where his expertise was immediately employed in the preparation of the voyage of Vasco da Gama to India. He made a sterling contribution to the development of navigation and was greatly respected as "Mathematician to the king."

Guedelha-Master Guedelha

(1432-c.1453) A member of the Negros family (Ibn Yahia), one of the most important and influential in the Jewish community in Portugal. In the reign of King Fernando, his father, Solomon Guedelha, founded a hospital in the Grande Judiaria in Lisbon. Master Guedelha was a rabbi and also doctor and astrologer to both King Duarte and King Afonso V. One of his sons, Abraham Guedelha (1450-1471), also became a chief rabbi and doctor to King Afonso V, which further increased the influence of the family.

Guedalha Palacano

(second half of the 15th century) A leading merchant, holder of a number of special prerogatives, he had considerable influence at Court. He played an important role in the history of the kingdom, by loaning huge sums to the Crown, on many occasions he financed royal activities. In 1478, he and Isaac Abravanel lent the sum of 3,384,615 reales to D. Afonso V. Guedelha Palacano was known as a loyal supporter of Prince Henry, having financed a number of overseas expeditions and justly deserved his honors and special treatment at Court.

Isaac Abravanel

(second half of the 15th century) One of the principal merchants in the kingdom and a member of one
of the most important Jewish families in Portugal. In 1478, along with Guedelha Palacano, he made a huge loan to King Afonso V. He was greatly respected as a man of learning, a doctor and philosopher.

Jose Vizinho

(second half of the 15th century) Born in Viseu, he was a doctor and astrologer to King Joao II. Colombus and Joao de Barros knew him as Master Jose and he was considered to be one of the most outstanding figures in the scientific context of the great feats of navigation. He translated the "Almanach Perpetuum" by Zacuto into Castillian and Latin and navigated to Guinea to test the regiment of latitudes by meridional observation of the sun.

Abraham Usque

(16th century) Born in Portugal and given the Christian name of Duarte Pinhel, he fled from the Inquisition and settled in Ferrara about 1543, where he was associated with Yom-Tob Ven Levi Athias (Jerome de Vargas), a New-Christian of Spanish origin who owned a typography. His name is linked to the publication of the "Biblia de Ferrara" ( The Ferrara Bible) in 1553. He published other books which included "Menina e Moca" by Bernardim Ribeiro and "Consolaco as Tribulacoes de Israel" ("Consolation for the Tribulations of Israel") by Samuel Usque.

Pedro Nunes

(1502-1578) A great Portuguese mathematician and cosmographer-major, author of "Tratado da Esfera", published in Lisbon in 1537, he was a first generation New-Christian. Born in Alcacer do Sal, he studied philosophy and mathermatics at the University of Lison, where he obtained his degree and became a teacher in 1529.

Antonio Jose da Silva

(1705-1739) Known as "the Jew", he was born in Rio de Janeiro, the son of a wealthy colonial family, and was one of the victims of the Inquisition. One of the great Portuguese playwrites of the 18th century, he wrote operas and satrical plays which were tremendously critical and entertaining, one of the most interesting being "The Jew." Other well-known works include: "Guerras de Alecrim e da Manjerona" and "Vida do grande D. Quixote de la Mancha e do gordo Sancho Panca." He was imprisoned for the first time in 1726 but, after being tortured, was released. He was sent to prison again and condemned to death at the stake in a dramatic auto-de fe which took place in Lisbon on October 18th 1739.


"The Jews in Portugal" booklet issued by the Tourism Information Dept. Lisbon, Portugal...

With the support of TAP Air Portugal

Submitted by:

Patricia Julia Silva Corbera

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:02:40 pm

Miguel Bensús at the grave of his great-grandfather in the Jewish cemetery in Iquitos

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:04:34 pm

Miguel Bensús

(Text and photos by
Hans Ulrich Dillmann
- translated by Wolfy Becker)

                                                            Rubber Roots:

                         Jews in Iquitos, Peru are looking for ancestors - and their identity

Posted by
Wolfy Becker
on February 7th, 2007

Traveling to Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon jungle at the end of the 19th century required, above all, time. It took about eighteen days after embarking a steamship in Europe. The first stop on the South American continent was in Belén de la Pará, Brazil. There they had to board a small, double-deck steamer that took them upstream the Amazon River to a stopover in Manaus and then to Iquitos,

In contrast, the cumbersome journey from the Peruvian capital of Lima across the Andes on horseback, on foot, and then in small rowing boats lasted more than two months. Iquitos was the Peruvian center of the rubber boom at the time and attracted people in search of better life. In 1880, Alfredo Coblentz was one of the first few Jews of German descent who tried their luck as distributors for the milky juice of the rubber tree (Ficus elastica).

“The first Jews who came to Iquitos were people who had been promised a better life”, Ariel Segal says while trying to explain the motives for the long and exhausting journey from North Africa to Peru. “At the time many fled to Morocco because of a growing anti-semitism in Europe”, said the scientist based on the results of his research project on Iquitos. In his book “Jews of the Amazon. Self exiles in earthly paradise” he wrote down the story “of the forgotten Jews”.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:09:40 pm

Drawn by the rubber rush, between 1880 and the beginning of the 20th century approximately 250 predominantly Sephardic Jews followed Coblentz’s example from Rabat, Marakesh, Tetuan and Casablanca. After the invention of synthetic rubber the dream of economic fortune in the jungle ended.

“Most of them left after the boom end around 1912″, says Jorge Abramovitz, current president of the Jewish welfare organization “Sociedad de Beneficiencia Israelita de Iquitos“, founded in 1909. The few remaining descendants of the former Jewish immigrants in the Peruvian Amazon are still united within this organization.

Abramovitz lives four houses away from the Plaza de Armas, Iquitos’s main square. The light blue painted colonial style building with high ceilings also houses his mattress business. “The house is painted in the colors of Israel”, he says with pride. His father Zew, of Polish descent, came from Palestine in the mid 1930’s and worked as a gold seeker in the tributaries of the Amazon River, and later as a leather merchant and textile importer.

Abramovitz’s wife, Rivka, created a small zoo in the backyard. Screaming little monkeys are jumping from pole to pole. Red, yellow, blue and green feathered parrots nibble their bananas, a Loro releases verbal fireworks -, even if the Jewish congregation gathers for the Kabbalat Shabbat in an adjoining room that serves as an improvised synagogue. A curtain separates this place of prayer from the rest of the house.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:11:56 pm

Casa Cohen.

Spanish tiles are evidence of the former Jewish owners wealth

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:13:34 pm

Every Friday evening approximately 50 community members gather for their prayers. The room is painted in white and a flight of stairs from the second floor leads to its entrance. Brown colored mahogany chairs, a couple of benches with plastic seating pads, a simple table with the flag of Israel, a reproduction of a dancing Rebbe and a board with Hebrew letters decorate the praying hall.

“The book of prayers has brought us together again”, says Miguel Bensús. The 24 year old is the prayer leader. “We help each other because for decades much of what represents being Jewish has been lost”, the chemistry student says. A big silver chain with the star of David hangs around his neck. Even on the street or at the university he is wearing his Kippah.

The story of Miguel Bensús puts a spotlight on the history “of the forgotten Jews of Iquitos”. His great-grandfather emigrated from North Africa and married a native Peruvian. Though the majority of his descendants was raised and educated Jewish and circumcised, “halakhically they were not Jews”, Bensús says.

In catholic schools worship was mandatory. Those who filed to appear for Sunday’s mass were punished with bad grades. “Many have mingled Jewish customs with catholic rituals and stories and stayed with it. Others lost their roots completely in the brushes of external influences.” The Jewish cemetery is adjacent to the catholic cemetery; the gate with the Star of David is locked with a heavy iron chain.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:15:22 pm

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:17:01 pm

Miguel Bensús is standing at the grave of his great-grandfather Abrahams Bensús Benamú. “Even though there is a Jewish cemetery, which is now culturally protected as Peruvian national heritage, we never had a synagogue. And nobody has an explanation for it”, says community chairman Abramovitz.

“Not until the 1940’s and 50’s descendants of Jewish immigrants began to refer to their roots. Initiated by Victor Ederig, a new congregation formed in the 1960’s and people started to gather for service: in Ederig’s tavern “La Sirena“. We owe it to Don Victor that we still have a community today“, Abramovitz points out.

“Iquitos was a world all by itself”, says Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein who lives in the Peruvian capital of Lima. The Rabbi of the conservative “Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto de 1870” visited the Jews in Iquitos for the first time in 1991.

Afterwards a new stage began for the Jewish descendants. “About 30 to 40 families lived there at the time, some with their great-grandparents, grandparents, nephews and cousins, up to 15 family members scattered throughout the wide jungle”, the Rabbi recounts. “I suggested a conversion to Judaism, provided that their descent from at least one Jewish parent was traceable.”

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:17:59 pm

Casa Israel

For years the highest house in Iquitos

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:19:54 pm

A majority accepted Bronstein’s suggested path leading back to their Jewish roots. Each Friday people willing to convert gathered for mass. Bronstein sent photocopies of prayer books and collected works on Judaism. The congregation began to create a list of Jewish descendants in the region. “In the third or fourth generation the names of the Jewish ancestors from Morocco had to be found. Even a catholic minister and municipalities in Morocco helped us in our genealogical research”, Bronstein described the criteria.

Nearly ten years later “the seeking for traces” ended for 98 inhabitants of Iquitos with a festive service and ritual circumcision. “We had a Mohel flown in from the United States”, Bronstein says. Two years ago an additional 240 descendants of Jewish immigrants converted to Judaism at a ceremony in a hotel in Iquitos. “Almost everyone has immigrated to Israel by now”, says Abramovitz. In the meantime, some people have also converted under orthodox rituals.

The lucky ones who can count on such a well-informed tour guide like Abramovitz still find numerous traces of former Jewish inhabitants of Iquitos. The foamed plastic merchant stops less than 50 meters away from his store and points to a one-story corner building that almost occupies a quarter of the whole block.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:24:56 pm

Riva Abramowitz, Miguel Bensos and Jorge Abramowitz

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:34:20 pm

At the “Casa Cohen” people stock up on building material, housewares and food, before they return to their hamlets at the Amazon river banks.

The Spanish tiles decorating the outside walls are evidence of the former Jewish owners wealth. “The trading company “Casa Israel” was known in the whole region”, Abramovitz says. Their own ships picked up the raw rubber material from the collectors in the jungle and provided them with all kinds of supply needed for their survival in the wilderness.

“For decades the “Casa Israel” used to be the highest house in Iquitos and for decades Jewish mayors governed the city”.

The Jews of Iquitos have gathered for another service at the synagogue. The small congregation sings in Hebrew. “We want to stay here and live out our Jewishness”, says Jorge Abramovitz.


3,000 of 28 million:

About 3,000 Jews live in Peru today.

Three synagogues exist in the capital of Lima.

The Asociación Judia de Beneficencía y Culto de 1870 is conservative,

the Union Israelita del Perú (Ashkenazi) and

the Sociedad de Beneficiencia Israelita Sefardí is orthodox.

All three communities are united within the Asociacion Judia del Peru.

Apart from B’nai B’rith Loge and the Hebraica Club, a culture- and sport community, the Jewish community in Lima has its own school, the Colegio “León Pinelo“, one of the best private schools in
the country with its approximately 28 million inhabitants.

Book Reference:

Ariel Segal -

“Jews of the Amazon: Self-Exile in Earthly Paradise”

Jewish Publication Society of America,
Nov 1999,
ISBN: 0827606699

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:42:48 pm


A Research Tool for

Sephardic Genealogy / Jewish Genealogy

by Harry Stein

Una Herramienta de Busqueda de Genealogia Sefardita/Judia
Informacoes e genealogia Judaica

We changed the face of Sephardic genealogy research.


This site is being archived by the Harvard University library system.


TRADUIRE ANGLAIS A FRANCAIS (S'il vous plait avoir la patience)

TRADUZA INGLES A PORTUGUES (Por favor tenha paciencia)

TRADURRE INGLESE ALL'ITALIANO (Per favore di avere pazienza)

TRADUZCA INGLES AL ESPANOL (Tenga por favor la paciencia)

This site is a research tool for Sephardic and Jewish genealogy. We will attempt to cover many facets of Sephardic culture and attempt to add new information daily. If you have any comments, wish to link or report a broken link, or are considering advertising, please send your comments to:

Harry Stein

Last updated: 12/07/08

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 01:52:26 pm

Sephardic Jewish pirate Jean Lafitte

                                              Ahoy, mateys ! Thar be Jewish pirates!

By Adam Wills
September 14, 2006

There's no arrr-guing that pirates are in.
As of last weekend, Disney had plundered $1 billion worldwide with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and International Talk Like a Pirate Day -- that's Sept. 19, for you landlubbers -- has gone from an inside joke between two friends to a mock holiday celebrated in more than 40 countries.

Yet tales of Jewish piracy, which stretch back thousands of years, aren't in the public's consciousness, and Hollywood even has been known to remove a pirate's Jewish background. As a result, we're stuck with portrayals of pirates as wayward English seamen on a murderous rampage.

But now a forthcoming book hopes to change that image by focusing on Ladino-speaking Jews whose piracy grew out of the Inquisition. "The Jewish pirates were Sephardic. Once they were kicked out of Spain [in 1492], the more adventurous Jews went to the New World," said Ed Kritzler, whose yet-untitled book on Jewish pirates will be published by Doubleday in spring 2007.

Jewish piracy has been around since well before the Barbary pirates first preyed on ships during the Crusades. In the time of the Second Temple, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus records that Hyrcanus accussed Aristobulus of "acts of piracy at sea."

Kritzler has studied pirates for 40 years, and said that the public is fascinated with them because they're "rugged individuals in a world of conformity. They carved their own identity, independent of the rules and strictures of society."

But determining the exact number of Jewish pirates is difficult, Kritzler said, because many of them traveled as Conversos, or converts to Christianity, and practiced their Judaism in secret.

While some Jews, like Samuel Pallache, took up piracy in part to help make a better life for expelled Spanish Jews, Kritzler said others were motivated by revenge for the Inquisition.

One such pirate was Moses Cohen Henriques, who helped plan one of history's largest heists against Spain. In 1628, Henriques set sail with Dutch West India Co. Admiral Piet Hein, whose own hatred of
Spain was fueled by four years spent as a galley slave aboard a Spanish ship. Henriques and Hein
boarded Spanish ships off Cuba and seized shipments of New World gold and silver worth in today's
dollars about the same as Disney's total box office for "Dead Man's Chest."

Henriques set up his own pirate island off the coast of Brazil afterward, and even though his role in the raid was disclosed during the Spanish Inquisition, he was never caught, Kritzler told The Journal.

Another Sephardic pirate played a pivotal role in American history. In the book "Jews on the Frontier" (Rachelle Simon, 1991), Rabbi I. Harold Sharfman recounts the tale of Sephardic Jewish pirate Jean Lafitte, whose Conversos grandmother and mother fled Spain for France in 1765, after his maternal grandfather was put to death by the Inquisition for "Judaizing."

Referred to as The Corsair, Lafitte went on to establish a pirate kingdom in the swamps of New Orleans, and led more than 1,000 men during the War of 1812. After being run out of New Orleans in 1817, Lafitte re-established his kingdom on the island of Galveston, Texas, which was known as Campeche. During Mexico's fight for independence, revolutionaries encouraged Lafitte to attack Spanish ships and keep the booty.

But in the 1958 film "The Buccaneer," starring Yul Brynner as Lafitte, any mention of the pirate's Jewish heritage was stripped away.


Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 03:22:30 pm

                                                          M A R R A N O

Marranos or Secret Jews were Sephardic Jews (Jews resident in the Iberian peninsula) who were forced to adopt Christianity under threat of expulsion from Spain and Portugal. Although they converted to Catholicism, some continued secretly to practice Judaism. The term in Spanish meant "pigs; apparently, it was derived from a word in Arabic محرّم muharram used by peninsular Jews to refer to "ritually forbidden". It stemmed from the ritual prohibition practiced by both Jews and Muslims against eating pork. In Spanish, the term marrano acquired the meaning of "swine" or "filthy", but in contemporary Spanish it has no association with Jews. In Portuguese the word refers only to crypto-Jews, since pig or "swine" is said marrão or varrão.

These conversos (converts), as they were also called, numbered over 100,000 in the Iberian Peninsula[citation needed]. They were also known by the name of Cristianos nuevos and Cristãos novos (New Christians) in Spain and Portugal, respectively. They were called xuetes in Catalan, derived from xua, a Catalan word referring to a pork recipe consumed publicly by xuetes in the Balearic Isles to display the sincerity of their Catholicism. Hebrew-speakers called such converts anusim (constrained). (Anusim is a general word for forced converts from Judaism and is not specific to this period.)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 03:27:37 pm

                  Types of Marranos (Conversos, or Judíos Escondidos - hidden Jews- Anoussim)

                     The Marranos and their descendants may be divided into three categories.

Conversos - New Christians

The first category comprised those who legitimately converted to Christianity, whether for expedience or faith. They raised their families as Christians. These were called "New Christians" or "Conversos."

A number of Spanish poets belong to this category, such as Pero Ferrus, Juan de Valladolid, Rodrigo Cota, and Juan de España of Toledo. De Espana, also called El Viejo (the old one), was considered a sound Talmudist. Like the monk Diego de Valencia, himself a baptized Jew, De Espana introduced in his pasquinades Hebrew and Talmudic words to mock the Jews. There were others who, for the sake of displaying their new zeal, persecuted their former co-religionists, writing books against them, and denouncing to the authorities those who wished to return to the faith of their forefathers, as happened frequently at Valencia, Barcelona, and many other cities (Isaac b. Sheshet, Responsa, No. 11).

Crypto Jews

The second category consisted of those who secretly held on to the Jewish faith in which they had been reared. These were known as Judíos Escondidos - hidden Jews. They preserved the traditions of their parents. Although some held high positions, they secretly attended synagogue, and fought and suffered for their religion. Many of the wealthiest Marranos of Aragon belonged to this category, including the Zaportas of Monzón, who were related by marriage to the royal house of Aragon; the Sanchez; the sons of Alazar Yusuf of Saragossa, who intermarried with the Cavalleria and the Santangel; the very wealthy Espes; the Paternoy, who came from the vicinity of Verdun to settle in Aragon; the Clemente; the sons of Moses Chamoro; the Villanova of Calatayud; the Coscon; and others.

Temporary Conversos

The third category, which was believed to have included the most Conversos, comprised those who yielded through stress of circumstances, but in their home life remained Jews and seized the first opportunity of openly avowing their faith.

They did not voluntarily take their children to the baptismal font; and if obliged to do so, on returning home they washed the place which had been sprinkled with water. They ate no pork, celebrated Passover, and gave oil to the synagogue.

"In the city of Seville an inquisitor said to the regent: 'My lord, if you wish to know how the Marranos keep the Sabbath, let us ascend the tower.' When they had reached the top, the former said to the latter: 'Lift up your eyes and look. That house is the home of a Marrano; there is one which belongs to another; and there are many more. You will not see smoke rising from any of them, in spite of the severe cold; for they have no fire because it is the Sabbath.'

Pretending that leavened bread did not agree with him, one Marrano ate unleavened bread throughout the year, in order that he might be able to partake of it at Passover without being suspected. At the festival on which the Jews blew the shofar, the Marranos went into the country and remained in the mountains and in the valleys, so that the sound might not reach the city. They employed a man specially to slaughter animals, drain away the blood, and deliver the meat at their homes, and another to circumcise secretly".

The Jews of that time judged the Marranos gently and indulgently; in Italy a special prayer was offered for them every Sabbath, asking that "God might lead them from oppression to liberty, from darkness to the light of religion."

To the Conversos who lived in secret conformity with Jewish law, the Rabbis applied the Talmudic passage: "Although he has sinned, he must still be considered a Jew". According to rabbinic law, anusim, who took the first opportunity of going to a foreign country and openly professing Judaism, were allowed to act as witnesses in religious matters.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 03:36:47 pm

                                                      I N   P O R T U G A L

The Portuguese Conversos or Cristãos Novos clung faithfully to the religion of their fathers, bearing torture for their faith and identity.

In the early 20th century historian Samuel Schwartz wrote about a few Crypto-Jewish communities in northeastern Portugal (namely in Belmonte, Bragança, Miranda, Chaves, among others). Members had managed to survive more than four centuries without being fully assimilated into the Old Christian population. [1] The last remaining community in Belmonte officially returned to Judaism in the 1970s,
and opened a synagogue in 1996. In 2003, the Belmonte Project was founded under the auspices of
the American Sephardi Federation, to raise funds to acquire Judaic educational material and services
for the community, who then numbered 160-180.

Massacre at Lisbon

The church considered the Conversos neither Christians nor Jews, but atheists and heretics and the cause of a months-long plague that affected the city in 1506. On April 17, 1506, several Conversos were discovered who had in their possession "some lambs and poultry prepared according to Jewish custom; also unleavened bread and bitter herbs according to the regulations for the Passover, which festival they celebrated far into the night." Several of them were seized, but were released after a few days.

The populace, which had expected to see them punished, swore vengeance. On the same day on which the Conversos were liberated, the Dominicans displayed in a side-chapel of their church, where several New Christians were present, a crucifix and a reliquary in glass from which a peculiar light issued. A New Christian, who tried to explain the miracle as due to natural causes, was dragged from the church and killed by an infuriated woman.

A Dominican roused the populace still more. Friar João Mocho and the Aragonese friar Bernardo, crucifix in hand, were said to go through the streets of the city, crying "Heresy!" and calling upon the people to destroy the Conversos.  Attracted by the outcry, sailors from Holland, Zealand and others from ships in the port of Lisbon, joined the Dominicans and formed a mob with local men to pursue the Conversos of Lisbon.

The mob dragged innocent victims from their houses and some were slain. Even Old Christians who were, in any way, associated to or confused with New Christians were molested. Among the victims, and the most hated of all, was the tax-farmer João Rodrigo Mascarenhas, one of the wealthiest and most distinguished New Christians of Lisbon; his house was entirely demolished. In this manner many Conversos perished within forty-eight hours. By the third day there were no more Conversos in town because other Portuguese helped them escape.

King Manuel severely punished the inhabitants who took part in the killings. The ringleaders were either hanged or quartered, and the Dominicans who had occasioned the riot were garroted and burned. Local people convicted of murder or pillage suffered corporal punishment, and their property was confiscated. The king granted religious freedom to all Conversos for twenty years. Lisbon lost Foral privileges. The foreigners who took part in the massacre left in their ships with their loot and escaped punishment.

In 2006, the Jewish community of Portugal held a ceremony in Lisbon to commemorate this event.

The New Christians of Portugal, who were distinguished for their knowledge, their commerce, and their banking enterprises, and resented for their power by competing and lower class Christians, began to hope for the future when the foreign Jew, David Re'ubeni arrived. Not only was this Jew invited by King John to visit Portugal; but, as appears from a letter (Oct. 10, 1528) of D. Martin de Salinas to the infante D. Fernando, brother of the emperor Charles I of Spain, he also received permission "to preach the law of Moses" ("Boletin Acad. Hist." xlix. 204). The Conversos regarded Re'ubeni as their savior and Messiah.

The New Christians of Spain also heard the news; and some of them left home to seek Re'ubeni out. The rejoicing lasted for some time; the emperor Charles even addressed several letters on the matter to his royal brother-in-law. In 1528, while Re'ubeni was still in Portugal, some Spanish Conversos fled to Campo Mayor and forcibly freed from the Inquisition a woman imprisoned at Badajoz. The rumor spread that the Conversos of the entire kingdom had united to make common cause. This increased the resentment and fear of the populace. They attacked New Christians in Gouvea, Alentejo, Olivença, Santarém, and other places, while in the Azores and the island of Madeira they massacred the former Jews. Because of these excesses, the king began to believe that a Portuguese Inquisition might help control such outbreaks.

The Portuguese Conversos waged a long and bitter war against the introduction of the tribunal, and spent immense sums to win over the Curia and most influential cardinals. The sacrifices made by both the Spanish and the Portuguese New Christians were substantial.

Alfonso Gutierrez, Garcia Alvarez "el Rico" (the wealthy), and the Zapatas, conversos from Toledo, offered 80,000 gold crowns to Emperor Charles V if he would mitigate the harshness of the Inquisition (Revue des Etudes Juives, xxxvii. 270 et seq.). All these sacrifices, however, including those made by the Mendes of Lisbon and Flanders, were powerless to prevent or retard the introduction of the Holy Office into Portugal.

The Conversos suffered immensely at the hands of the Inquisition and in mob violence. At Trancoso and Lamego, where many wealthy Conversos were living, at Miranda, Viseu, Guarda, Braga, and elsewhere they were robbed and killed. At Covilhã the people planned to massacre all the New Christians on one day. In 1562 the prelates petitioned the Cortes to require Conversos to wear special badges, and to order Jews to live in ghettos (judiarias) in cities and villages as before.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 03:38:32 pm

Secret Seder in Spain during the times of inquisition.

Painting by
Moshe Maimon

                                                           I N   S P A I N

The large numbers of the Conversos, as well as their wealth and influence, aroused the envy and hatred of the populace, whom the clergy incited against them as unbelieving Christians and hypocrites. The New Christians were hated much more than the Jews, and were persecuted as bitterly as their former coreligionists had been.

According to historian Cecil Roth, political intrigues in Spain promoted anti-Jewish policies, which culminated in 1391, when Regent Queen Leonora of Castile gave the Archdeacon of Ecija, Ferrand Martinez, considerable power in her realm. Martinez gave speeches that led to violence against the Jews, and this influence culminated in the sack of the Jewish quarter of Seville on June 4, 1391.

Throughout Spain during this year, the cities of Ecija, Carmona, Córdoba, Toledo, Barcelona and many others saw their Jewish quarters destroyed and massacred. It is estimated that 200,000 Jews saved their lives by converting to Christianity in the wake of these persecutions.

Another riot against them broke out at Toledo in 1449, and was accompanied with murder and pillage. Instigated by two canons, Juan Alfonso and Pedro Lopez Galvez, the mob plundered and burned the houses of Alonso Cota, a wealthy Converso and tax-farmer, and under the leadership of a workman they likewise attacked the residences of the wealthy New Christians in the quarter of la Magdelena. The Conversos, under Juan de la Cibdad, opposed the mob, but were repulsed and, with their leader, were hanged by the feet. As an immediate consequence of this riot, the Conversos Lope and Juan Fernandez Cota, the brothers Juan, Pedro, and Diego Nuñez, Juan Lopez de Arroyo, Diego and Pedro Gonzalez, Juan Gonzalez de Illescas, and many others were deposed from office, in obedience to a new statute.

Another attack was made upon the New Christians of Toledo in July 1467. The chief magistrate (alcalde mayor) of the city was Alvar Gomez de Cibdad Real, who had been private secretary to King Henry IV of Castile, and who, if not himself a "converso," as is probable, was at least the protector of the New Christians. He, together with the prominent Conversos Fernando and Alvaro de la Torre, wished to take revenge for an insult inflicted by the counts de Fuensalida, the leaders of the Christians, and to gain control of the city. A fierce conflict was the result. The houses of the New Christians near the cathedral were fired by their opponents, and the conflagration spread so rapidly that 1,600 houses were consumed, including the beautiful palace of Diego Gomez. Many Christians and still more Conversos perished in the flames or were slain; and the brothers De la Torre were captured and hanged.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 03:56:40 pm

Riots at Córdoba

The example set by Toledo was imitated six years later by Córdoba, in which city the Christians and the Conversos formed two hostile parties. On March 14, 1473, during a procession in honor of the dedication of a society which had been formed under the auspices of the fanatical Bishop D. Pedro, and from which all conversos were excluded, a little girl seems to have accidentally thrown some dirty water from the window of the house of one of the wealthiest Conversos, so that it splashed over an image of the Virgin. Thousands immediately joined in the fierce shout for revenge which was raised by a smith named Alonso Rodriguez; and the rapacious mob straightway fell upon the Conversos, denouncing them as heretics, killing them, and plundering and burning their houses.

To stop the excesses, the highly respected D. Alonso Fernandez de Aguilar, whose wife was a member of the widely ramified Converso family of Pacheco, together with his brother D. Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova ("el gran Capitan"), the glory of the Spanish army, and a troop of soldiers, hastened to protect the New Christians. D. Alonso called upon the mob to retire, but instead of obeying, the smith insulted the count, who immediately felled him with his lance. The people, blinded by fanaticism, regarded their slain leader as a martyr.

Incited by Alonso de Aguilar's enemy, the knight Diego de Aguayo, they seized weapons and again attacked the Conversos. Girls were raped, and men, women, and children were pitilessly slain. The massacre and pillage lasted three days; those who escaped seeking refuge in the castle, whither their protectors also had to retire. It was then decreed that, in order to prevent the repetition of such excesses, no Marrano should thenceforth live in Cordoba or its vicinity, nor should one ever again hold public office.

In 1473 attacks on the Conversos arose in numerous cities. At Montoro, Bujalance, Adamuz, La Rambla, Santaella, and elsewhere, mobs attacked and killed them and plundered their houses. At Jaén a constable who tried to protect the conversos was attacked and killed in church by the ringleaders. Mobs attacked conversos in Andujar, Úbeda, Baeza, and Almodovar del Campo also. In Valladolid groups looted the belongings of the New Christians, but there was a massacre at Segovia (May 16, 1474). D. Juan Pacheco, a Converso, led the attacks. Without the intervention of the alcalde Andreas de Cabrera family, all New Christians may have died. At Carmona every Converso was killed.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 04:06:06 pm

                                                T H E   I N Q U I S I T I O N

The Conversos of Seville and other cities of Castile, and especially of Aragon, bitterly opposed the Spanish Inquisition.

They rendered considerable service to the king, and held high legal, financial, and military positions.
The government issued an edict directing traditional Jews to live within a ghetto and be separated
from Conversos.

Despite the law, however, the Jews remained in communication with their New Christian brethren.

"They sought ways and means to win them from Catholicism and bring them back to Judaism. They instructed the Marranos in the tenets and ceremonies of the Jewish religion; held meetings in which they taught them what they must believe and observe according to the Mosaic law; and enabled them to circumcise themselves and their children.

They furnished them with prayer-books; explained the fast-days; read with them the history of their people and their Law; announced to them the coming of the Passover; procured unleavened bread for them for that festival, as well as kosher meat throughout the year; encouraged them to live in conformity with the law of Moses, and persuaded them that there was no law and no truth except the Jewish religion."

These actions were listed in charges brought against the Jews by the government of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. They formed the grounds for the expulsion and banishment of Jews
from the country, so they could not subvert conversos. Jews who did not want to leave Spain accepted baptism.

The historian Henry Kamen's recent Inquisition and Society In Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries questions whether there were such strong links between Conversos and Jewish communities.

Whilst historians such as Yitzhak Baer state,

"the conversos and Jews were one people",

Kamen claims that

"Yet if the conversos were hated by the Christians, the Jews liked them no better."

He documented that

"Jews testified falsely against them [the conversos] when the Inquisition was finally founded."

This issue is being debated by historians.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 04:10:51 pm

                                                        D I S P E R S I O N

The Conversos, who were threatened and persecuted by the Inquisition, left Spain in bands or as individual refugees. Many of them escaped to Italy, attracted by the climate, which resembled that of the Iberian Peninsula, and by its kindred language. They settled at Ferrara, and Duke Ercole I d'Este granted them privileges, which were confirmed by his son, Alfonso, to twenty-one Spanish Conversos, physicians, merchants, and others (ib. xv. 113 et seq.).

Spanish and Portuguese Conversos settled also at Florence; and New Christians contributed to make Leghorn a leading seaport. They received privileges at Venice, where they were protected from the persecutions of the Inquisition. At Milan they materially advanced the interests of the city by their industry and commerce. At Bologna, Pisa, Naples, Reggio, and many other Italian cities they freely exercised their religion, and were soon so numerous that Fernando de Goes Loureiro, an abbot from Oporto, filled an entire book with the names of the Conversos who had drawn large sums from Portugal and had openly avowed Judaism in Italy.

In Piedmont Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy welcomed Conversos from Coimbra, and granted them commercial and industrial privileges, as well as the free exercise of their religion. Rome was full of Conversos. Pope Paul III received them at Ancona for commercial reasons, and granted complete liberty "to all persons from Portugal and Algarve, even if belonging to the class of New Christians."
Three thousand Portuguese Jews and Conversos were living at Ancona by 1553.

Two years later the fanatical Pope Paul IV issued orders to have all the Conversos thrown into the prisons of the Inquisition which he had instituted. Sixty of them, who acknowledged the Catholic faith as penitents, were transported to the island of Malta; twenty-four, who adhered to Judaism, were publicly burned (May, 1556). Those who escaped the Inquisition were received at Pesaro by Duke Guido Ubaldo of Urbino. Guido had hoped to have the Jews and Conversos of Turkey select Pesaro as a commercial center; when that did not happen, he expelled the New Christians from Pesaro and other districts in 1558 (ib. xvi. 61 et seq.).

Many Conversos also went to Dubrovnik, formerly a considerable seaport. In May, 1544, a ship landed there filled with Portuguese refugees.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 04:18:14 pm

                                                           F R A N C E

At this same period the Conversos were seeking refuge beyond the Pyrenees, settling at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Tarbes, Bayonne, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Montpellier.

They lived apparently as Christians; were married by Catholic priests; had their children baptized, and publicly pretended to be Catholics.

In secret, however, they circumcised their children, kept the Sabbath and feast-days as far as they could, and prayed together.

King Henry III of France confirmed the privileges granted them by Henry II of France, and protected them against such slanders and accusations as those which a certain Ponteil brought against them. Under Louis XIII of France the Conversos of Bayonne were assigned to the suburb of St. Esprit. At St. Esprit, as well as at Peyrehorade, Bidache, Orthez, Biarritz, and St. Jean de Luz, they gradually avowed Judaism openly.

In 1640 several hundred Conversos, considered to be Jews, were living at St. Jean de Luz; and at St. Esprit there was a synagogue as early as 1660.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 04:21:57 pm

                                          T H E   R E S T   O F   T H E   W O R L D

Next to the Ottoman Empire, where conversos had openly declared their return to Judaism upon reaching its shores and where they had later built important communities such as in Salonika, the Conversos turned chiefly to Flanders, attracted by its flourishing cities, such as Antwerp, where they settled at an early date, and Brussels. Conversos from Flanders, and others direct from the Pyrenean Peninsula, went under the guise of Catholics to Hamburg and Altona about 1580, where they established commercial relations with their former homes.

Some went as far as Scotland. Christian IV of Denmark invited some New Christian families to settle at Glückstadt about 1626, granting certain privileges to them and also to the Conversos who came to Emden about 1649.

Large numbers of Conversos, however, remained in Spain and Portugal, despite the extensive emigration and the fate of countless victims of the Inquisition.

The New Christians of Portugal breathed more freely when Philip III of Spain came to the throne and by the law of April 4, 1601, granted them the privilege of unrestricted sale of their real estate as well as free departure from the country for themselves, their families, and their property. Many, availing themselves of this permission, followed their coreligionists to Africa and Turkey. After a few years, however, the privilege was revoked, and the Inquisition resumed its activity.

But the Portuguese who were not affected by radicalism perceived that no forcible measures could induce the Conversos to give up the religion of their fathers.

Individual New Christians, as Antonio Fernandez Carvajal and several from Spain, Hamburg, and Amsterdam, went to London, whence their families spread to Brazil, where Conversos had settled at an early date, and to other colonies of the Americas.

The migrations to Constantinople and Salonica, where Jewish refugees had settled after the expulsion from Spain, as well as to Italy, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria, and to Vienna and Timişoara, continued to the middle of the 18th century.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 04:24:33 pm

S E E   A L S O


Belmonte Jews




Doctrine of mental reservation



Limpieza de sangre

Luis de Carvajal, el mozo


New Christian


Spanish and Portuguese Jews



Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 04:27:06 pm


^ Ruth Almog, "Cryptic, these crypto Jews", nda, last update 02/12/2005,, in English; review of Hebrew translation of Schwarz's 1925 Hanotzrim Hakhadashim Beportugal Be'meah Ha'esrim (New Christians in Portugal in the 20th Century)

^ Inquisition and Society In Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries’ – Henry Kamen pg. 27

Cecil & Irene Roth, A history of the Marranos, Sepher-Hermon Press, 1974.

Cecil Roth, A history of the Jews. New York: Schocken Books, 1961.

Damião de Góis, (1567), in Chronica do Felicissimo Rey D. Emanuel da Gloriosa Memória

Arnold Diesendruck (2002), in Os Marranos em Portugal'

External links

corresponding article in the Jewish Encyclopedia. Further relevant material can be found in their article on South and Central America.

Resources > Medieval Jewish History > "Expulsion from Spain and The Anusim", The Jewish History Resource Center, Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Kathleen Telch, "Belmonte Project", Newsletter, Spring 2003, p. 9, American Sephardi Federation
Society For Crypto Judaic Studies

Michael Freund, "Miracle in Orlando", originally published in The Jerusalem Post, Jewish Society
Return to Sinai, in, Website covering topics relevant to descendants of assimilation and intermarriage

Descendants of Marranos arrive in Israel

Retrieved from ""

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 04:46:06 pm

Shabbat in a Marrano home, Spain, 15th century.
(Painting on glass, Beth Hatefutsoth Permanent Exhibit)

                                                     D I O G O    M E N D E S

(born before 1492 - c. 1542), Marrano banker.

Born in Spain, he established - with his brother - a business in spices and precious stones. He settled in Antwerp, Low Countries, and on his brother's death in 1536 was joined in the business by his sister-in-law, Beatrice da Luna (Gracia Mendes).

Their great bank enjoyed a monopoly in pepper. Their vast wealth and culture obtained them admittance to the highest circles. Mendes was a magnate in the spice trade and made large loans to the governments of the Low Countries, Portugal, and England. He organized an escape route for Marranos from the Iberian peninsula to Italy and Turkey.

He was arrested in 1532 on charges of Judaizing but the case was allowed to lapse on payment of a heavy fine (partly due to the intervention of England's Henry VIII who used the Mendes bank). After his death in Antwerp a similar charge was the pretext for the confiscation of his property.



Cecil ROTH. Dona Gracia of the House of Nasi. Pp. XV, 208, [7] plates. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1992


A chronology of his life and the story of the family of his brother Francisco (Dona Gracia Mendes)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 07, 2008, 04:56:39 pm

                                              Gracia Mendes and Her Times

                                                  Gracia Mendes Timeline


The young Semah and Meir Benveniste are brought to Portugal by their father. Their Christian names are Francisco and Diogo Mendes.

Forced conversions in Portugal

Gracia is born in Portugal. Her outside name was Beatrice de Luna. In the family she was Gracia (Hannah) Nasi. Her brother — Dr. Miguez — was the royal physician.

Diogo Mendes opens a branch of the House of Mendes in Antwerp. By 1525 the brothers control the largest share of the pepper and spice trade, buying directly from the King of Portugal (the only bulk importer). The capital at his disposal was 300,000 — 400,000 florins He made loans to the Kings of Portugal and England.
Birth of Gracia’s nephew Joao Miguez (Joseph Nasi)

Gracia is married to Francisco Mendes. Brother of Diogo. They had migrated with their father in 1492 as one of 600 privileged families. Their family names were Semah and Meir Benveniste. Starting as dealers in precious stones, they became wealthy and important traders, participating in the hugely profitable spice trade

Diogo is arrested for heresy (being a secret "Judaizer"). Using letters of safe conduct from the (Holy Roman) Emperor he is released the same day.

Diogo is arrested on the word of a child who, with his mother and 3 siblings, Diogo has previously helped escape to Salonica. Diogo is moved to Brussels. Antwerp puts up obstacles, demands the right to try him. The King of Portugal, who will lose 200,000 ducats if Diogo cannot complete business deals, instructs his representatives to intervene. Mary of Hungary and Henry VIII also support Diogo.
September. Diogo is released under bail of 50,000 ducats and a large cash payment. Charges are dropped.
The Emperor prohibits New Christians from travelling through Antwerp on their way to Turkey. The House of Mendes is able to help most travelers anyway.

The New Christian community attempts to pay the Pope 30,000 ducats to prohibit the Inquisition from Antwerp. The deal is not completed due to mutual suspicion.

Francisco dies, Gracia is left with an infant daughter Reyna (publicly known as Brianda). The administration of Francisco’s fortune is divided between Gracia, who is to act in the name of her daughter, and Diogo
Papal brief on May 23 opens the Inquisition in Portugal, on the Spanish model. New Christians cannot easily emigrate to non-Christian countries, but can go to Northern Europe. Gracia moves to Antwerp with her daughter Brianda, her unmarried sister Brianda (namesake of Gracia’s daughter),. and her nephews Joao Miguez (a.k.a. Joseph Nasi, later Duke of Naxos) and his younger brother. They stop for a while in England. In Antwerp, Brianda marries Diogo.

New Christians guaranteed the ability to settle in Antwerp with full rights, with immunity from prosecution for crimes committed elsewhere.

Inquisition begins in Lisbon. Mass emigration to Antwerp and (Spanish) Italy.

Massive arrests in Italy of New Christians on their way to Ancona or Salonica. Suspicions that their finds were provided by Diogo. Three leading merchants of Antwerp hold a meeting send 2,000 ducats to Milan to provide for the prisoners and bribe the commissioners. An employee of the firm who is at this meeting is later arrested in Italy and informs on the secret meeting and colony. All suspect New Christians in England are arrested, although later released. Gracia gets Diogo to agree to leave Flanders within a year.

Diogo dies. Gracia is named administrator of Diogo’s half of the business on behalf of his widow and infant daughter. Gracia must fight charges of heresy against Diogo (else his property will be confiscated)> The charges are withdrawn when she lends the emperor 100,000 ducats interest free.

Gracia is pressured by the Emperor to marry her daughter to a much older (Old Christian) nobleman, Don Francisco d’Aragon. Aragon promises the Emperor a 200,000 loan from his wife’s money if the marriage takes place. She is personally summoned by Mary, ex-Queen of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands, and sister of the Emperor who proposes the match to her.

Gracia leaves Antwerp with her sister and the two young girls , under pretext of a vacation in Aachem (Aix-la-Chapelle) but instead settles in Venice. She has previously arranged with the government for a safe-conduct. Much of the fortune is left in Antwerp with Joao Miguez.

The two widows are accused of apostasy and ordered to appear before the Council of Brabrant. When they fail to appear, an embargo is placed on the 40 treasure chests they had left in Antwerp. Miguez enters into delaying negotiations with the Emperor. Eventually the Emperor accepts a payment of 30,000 crowns in settlement of all claims. However, the Queen argues for total confiscation. During the protracted negotiations Miguez manages to sell some of the firm’s Antwerp property and finally flees to Venice. Meanwhile, Gracia has arranged for the Venetian government to sequester venetian property of German merchants who had custody of her treasure in Antwerp, and was able to recover some of the latter in return for lifting of the embargo. Despite serious losses the firm is still wealthy, and out of Spanish control at last.

Brianda, possibly jealous of Gracia’s control of the company and its fortunes, denounces her as a Judaizer, and announced that the plan was to eventually leave Venice for Turkey. The Venetian government embargoes the family property, placed Gracia under arrest, and places the girls in a nunnery. Brianda employs an anti-Jewish French agent to lodge a similar denunciation in France, but is in turn denounced by the agent, so that the property she had hoped to receive is also placed under embargo.
Joseph Hamon, a Sephardic Jew who was physician to the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, brings the story to the Sultan who, is hoping for the transfer of the Mendes business empire to Turkey. The Sultan sends an envoy to Venice requesting that Gracia be allowed to travel immediately to Constantinople.

Joseph flees Amsterdam and settles in France. He enters the circle of Kind Francis I.

Gracie has arranged for her release and has been reunited with her daughter. She is given one month to swear to be a true Christian, or to never return to Venice. She is unwilling to move to Constantinople at this time, without arranging for the transfer of the business
1550 —

February They move to Ferrara, where Jews were welcomed and immune from attack on religious grounds, at invitation of the Duke. Within a few months Brianda joins her, with her daughter. They begin to live openly as Jews.
They return to Venice to visit with the Sultan’s envoy, under safe-conduct.
July 8. The Venetian Senate issues an expulsion order against the New Christians. (By the end of the century the policy is reversed and Venice becomes a haven for the Marranos.)

An outbreak of plague. The Jews are believed to have brought it on their journeys and are required to leave the city. Gracia organized their movements, provided supplies and money. Eventually the scare dies down and the Jews return.

The first Spanish version of the traditional prayer book is published in Ferrara. This is followed by a translation of the Bible. The edition published for Christians is dedicated to the Duke; the one for Jews is dedicated to "one so noble and magnificent that it would adorn her nobility" — "the Very Magnificent Lady Doña Gracia Naci[sic]".
This in turn is followed by "Concolation for the Tribulations of Israel" a prose poem in Portuguese recounting the whole of Jewish history, written to assist the crypto-Jews of Portugal and prevent them from being overwhelmed by what they had undergone. This is also dedicated to Gracia: "who has seen revived the intrinsic piety of Miriam, offering her life to save her brethren? The great prudence of Deborah, in governing her people? That infinite virtue and great sanctity of Esther, in helping those who are persecuted? The much praised strength of the most chaste and magnanimous widow, Judith, in delivering those hemmed in by travail? [It is]the fortunate Jewess Nasci. She it is who at the beginning of their journey greatly helps your necessitous sons… In such wise, with her golden arm and heavenly grasp, she raised moth of those of this people from the depths of this and other infinite travail in which they were kept enthralled in Europe… she brings them to safe lands and does not cease to guide them, and gathers them to the obedience and precepts of their god of old."
The Inquisition spreads further in Europe.

Pope Julius III guarantees that Portuguese New Christians who settle in Ancona will be free from prosecutions by ecclesiastical courts on the basis of practice of Judaism. Upwards of 100 families will migrate to Ancona, live openly as Jews, and open a synagogue.

Julius III extends his concessions to all Jews and Portuguese in Ancona. (In return for payment of 1000 ducats per year.)
Gracia and her family arrive in Constantinople.

Joseph Nasi arrives in Constantinople and declares himself a Jew (and is circumcised); marries Reyna.

The fanatical anti-Jewish Cardinal Giovanni Caraffa becomes Pope Paul IV. In Italy he institutes the Ghetto system, excludes Jews from honorable walks of life, enforces wearing of Jewish badge of Spain. His representative in Ancona arrests the whole of the Portuguese New Christian community and jails them, in violation of guarantees they had received from the city and from previous Popes. This representative takes bribes and allows approximately 50 to go free. He flees to Venice with more than 300,000 ducats of bribes and confiscated money. His successor orders the remaining prisoners shackled together and tortured in public.


Gracia's representatives in Ferrara are denounced to the Inquisition, although no evidence is produced. Her daughter (now called Gracia la chica or Gracia the Younger) and her daughter’s husband (Samuel. Joseph’s brother) are living in Ferrara.

The Sultan’s son and co-ruler, Selim, sends an envoy to the Duke of Ferrara. His mission is to secure permission for Gracia la chica and Samuel to leave for Constantinople. The Emperor and the Pope intervene.
Starting April 13, twenty five prisoners who had refused to abjure Judaism were strangled and burned.
Boycott of Ancona organized by Gracia Mendes.

Gracia la chica and Samuel are allowed to leave Ferrara.

Tiberias is granted to Joseph. He is to be instrumental in its rebuilding.

Joseph negotiates a peace treaty between Poland and Turkey.

Suleiman the Magnificent dies. With Joseph’s help, his son Selim becomes Sultan. Joseph is appointed Dike of Naxos.

Joseph supports the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain ( and offers support of the Ottoman empire).
Gracia Mendes dies
Samuel dies

Joseph dies

The first public Jewish service is held in Amsterdam

Reyna dies.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 11:19:10 am

                                       A history of Italy's Jews, corso espresso

Patricia Yollin,
SFChronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

David Rosenberg-Wohl gazed at the double latte he'd ordered in a cafe just north of the UC Berkeley campus.

"Do you realize this cup of coffee comes to us by way of the Jews of Italy?" he asked. "In 1632."

He should know. Rosenberg-Wohl is the curator of an exhibition at the Museo ItaloAmericano in San Francisco titled "Il Ghetto: Forging Italian Jewish Identities 1516-1870."

"I guess I didn't think designing an exhibit would be any different from telling stories. And I like telling stories," said the former lawyer, who is working on a joint doctorate in Jewish studies at Cal and the Graduate Theological Union.

And the story Rosenberg-Wohl tells goes well beyond the ghetto.

"It's a crash course in the history of Jews in Italy," said Paola Bagnatori, managing director of the Museo. "A corso espresso."

The show includes photographs, artifacts and objects such as ceramic plates, spice boxes, manuscripts, a prized musical score and items of religious worship ranging from Torah pointers to Hanukkah lamps.

"It's rare to have an opportunity to learn about a hybrid culture," Rosenberg-Wohl said. "It's particularly relevant for those of us living in a multicultural society."

The exhibition is full of surprises, starting with the word "ghetto" itself.

In 1516, the Jews of Venice were sent to live on the island dumping ground of a copper foundry, or geto, which comes from the Italian gettare, meaning to throw or cast away.

Although linguists and historians don't agree on how the word evolved into "ghetto," it's clear that at some point between 1516 and 1633, it lost the original meaning and instead described an enclosed, segregated Jewish quarter.

In 1589, it surfaced for the first time in an official document produced by a Jewish notary in Rome, who referred to an area where Jews had been segregated as il nostro ghet (our ghetto). The Hebrew word ghet, so similar to geto, means divorce or separation.

"The word resonated with the Jews of Italy, who saw their confinement as a separation from the larger society," said Mary Serventi Steiner, project coordinator for the Museo show. "I thought this was so interesting: The blending of the two cultures can be seen in the word 'ghetto' itself."

The idea for the show was hatched when Steiner suggested a Jewish Italy tour. Bagnatori replied, 'Why not a Jewish Italy exhibit?' "

"We felt that it was a little-known aspect of Italian culture that we wanted to share with the public," Steiner said.

Two years later, there is an exhibition, lecture program, 11 community partners and a tour of Italy scheduled for March.

Sheila Baumgarten, a nonprofit consultant, helped get financial support for the show, which, at more than $50,000, is the most expensive in Museo history; her husband, Professor Murray Baumgarten, provided academic expertise. The images alone came from more than 30 national and international museums and libraries.

"Generally, modern Jewish culture is thought of in terms of its Eastern European roots," Steiner said. "But this exhibit shows another aspect of it: the interaction between Jewish culture and Italian culture, and the impact and influence they had on each other."

The exhibition looks at more than 350 years of Jewish life in Venice, Rome and Florence - with forays into Livorno, Padua and Mantua - leading up to 1870, when Italy was unified.

"Italy was the gateway through which Jewish culture in Europe was established," Rosenberg-Wohl said.

Most people associate "ghetto" with its modern urban context or with the Holocaust carried out by the Nazi regime in Europe during World War II, Rosenberg-Wohl said. Few realize it was born in Venice in the 16th century.

Murray Baumgarten said Venetian society and government came up with the notion of the ghetto in response to a crisis - economic, political and social - brought on by a series of military defeats in 1509 that basically destroyed the Venetian empire. They not only decided the Jews had polluted their Christian society and were rivals to their merchants but also realized they were needed as pawnbrokers and moneylenders.

"Rather than expel them as the Spaniards had done in 1492, the French in 1319 and the English in 1290, they decided to sequester them, limit where they could live and what they could do to make a living," said Baumgarten, head of Jewish studies at UC Santa Cruz.

Referring to medieval images of Moses with horns, he said, "The Venetians were referencing a deep feeling that the Jews were a different species," not quite human.

Although the ghetto was supposed to be a way to keep contacts between Jews and Christians strictly regulated, he said, it didn't work out that way.

"Despite the ghetto walls, increasing proximity brought increasing familiarity between Jews and Christians," notes one exhibit. "They traded, argued and had sexual relations."

Rosenberg-Wohl said the formation of the ghetto was a "liberal solution," an alternative to extermination or conversion.

"While we remember the walls, it's equally important to remember the gates," he said.

Il Ghetto: Forging Italian Jewish Identities 1516-1870:

Through Feb. 15. Free. Noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.

Museo ItaloAmericano, Building C,
Fort Mason Center,
Marina Boulevard at Buchanan Street,
San Francisco.
(415) 673-2200,

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 11:20:47 am

                                              Jews in Italy by the numbers


Minimum number of years that Jews lived in Italy before there were Christians.


Pope Paul IV decrees that all Jews in the Papal States be segregated into enclosed quarters.


Napoleon invades Italy and, with destruction of Venice's ghetto gates, begins liberations of the country's ghettos.


Italian Jews deported to death camps during World War II.


Jewish residents of Italy in 2008.

Museo ItaloAmericano

E-mail Patricia Yollin at

This article appeared on
page E - 1 of the
San Francisco Chronicle

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 11:22:44 am

Visitors to the Museo ItaloAmericano at Fort Mason read up on the museum's latest show,

"Il Ghetto: Forging Italian Jewish Identities 1516-1870."

(Liz Hafalia, /
The Chronicle)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 11:24:22 am

A 17th century Hanukkah lamp made of brass is one of the exhibition's Italian artifacts.

(Judah L. Magnes Museum)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 11:25:54 am

A bronze Hanukkah lamp fronts an Italian motif as part of
Museo ItaloAmericano's

"Il Ghetto: Forging Italian Jewish Identities 1516-1870."

(Liz Hafalia, /
The Chronicle)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 11:28:36 am

An antique ketubah, or marriage contract,
from Livorno shows the strong influence of Roman mythology.

(Alberto Jona Falco,
/ Italian Judaica Image Archive)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 11:28:57 am

Keys to the Ferrara Ghetto (right) displayed at the Museo ItaloAmericano:
"Il Ghetto: Forging Italian Jewish Identities 1516 - 1870",
being exhibited at Fort Mason in San Francisco, Cailf.,
on Tuesday, November 11, 2008.

(Liz Hafalia
/ The Chronicle)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 11:31:34 am

Torah finials, 1883, Livorno, Italy, at the current show at Museo ItaloAmericano:
"Il Ghetto: Forging Italian Jewish Identities 1516 - 1870",
being exhibited at Fort Mason in San Francisco, Cailf.

(Liz Hafalia
/ The Chronicle)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on December 08, 2008, 05:18:38 pm



Before the Diaspora, however, there was a community living in Rome, the oldest continual Jewish settlement in the history of Europe, always part of the cultural landscape, always living in isolation of one kind or another. 

                                           Jewish food was and is Roman food. 

Today, within the world of Jews in Italy, there are several smaller worlds: those of the native Italian Jews, of the Sephardim driven out of Spain, and of the Ashkenazim moving down from Germany and Eastern Europe.

Italian food prevails and Jewish food remains Roman food.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on January 14, 2009, 12:34:26 pm



                                  VENICE : Bigoli in salsa (whole grain spaghetti in anchovy sauce)

From The Jewish Chronicle
Silvia Nacamulli
November 13, 2008

My paternal grandfather, Nonno Bino, was originally from the ghetto of Venice and came to Rome in the 1930s to find a job and a wife. He married my grandmother (Nonna Bianca) and worked with her in the family business - at the time a small shop selling glass and ceramic household products. I cherish my Venetian origins, and Venetian Jewish cooking is one of the richest cuisines in Italy. In fact, Venice had Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Italian Jews living together, and as a result the food in the ghettos was varied, exotic and cosmopolitan.

This recipe is a staple of Venetian Jewish cooking, even if its Jewish origins are often forgotten. Bigoli is Venetian pasta originally made with buckwheat flour, but is now more commonly made with whole wheat flour. It is a little thicker than the traditional spaghetti and its texture is rough, allowing the sauce to be more easily absorbed. I am using wholegrain spaghetti here as it is similar to bigoli and more easily available. Wholegrain spaghetti has a nutty flavour, which goes very well with the anchovies.

You may find out that even people who don't like anchovies often like this recipe - somehow the combination of the onions, parsley and wholegrain pasta balance-out the anchovies, creating a rich flavour.

Silvia's website is

Preparation time: 20 minutes.Serves 6 as starter or 4 as a main

500g wholemeal spaghetti
100g anchovy fillets
finely chopped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
3 finely chopped onions
Bunch of finely
chopped parsley
2 litres water
A handful of rock salt
Black pepper to taste

 Heat up the olive oil and the onion in a large non stick frying pan.
 Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the onion is soft. To help in the process, add a few tablespoons of warm water and leave it to evaporate.
 Once the water has evaporated add half the parsley, then stir and leave the onion to turn golden.
 Finely chop the anchovy fillets and add these to the frying pan together with some black pepper. Mix thoroughly with the onions and leave to cook for 3-4 minutes, adding the rest of the parsley at the last minute.
 While the sauce is cooking, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. When it boils add a handful of sea salt and drop in the spaghetti. Stir well and leave to cook for as long as the package says or until al dente.
 TIP: Before draining the pasta, take a large cup of boiling water from the saucepan and put to one side.
 Drain the pasta and add it to the frying pan with the anchovy sauce on medium heat. Mix thoroughly until the pasta is coated with the sauce. If your frying pan is not big enough then use a large bowl instead.
 While stirring, slowly add some of the water you put to one side earlier and let it absorb until it's creamy.
 Add more olive oil if needed, ground black pepper to taste, stir thoroughly and serve immediately.

Last updated: 11:43am, November 13 2008

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on April 13, 2009, 03:15:44 pm

From left, Italia Tagliacozzo, Ester Di Segni, Emma Di Segni, earthquake survivor Nello De Bernardinis and Alberto Di Consiglio, pose for a group photo in the Casentino tent-camp, near L'Aquila, central Italy, Monday, April 13, 2009.

 Italian Jews and Holocaust survivors are rushing to aid communities that sheltered them during World War II and were hit by last week's devastating earthquake. Di Consiglio found Nello De Bernardinis, 74, the son of a couple who sheltered Di Consiglio's father and eight other relatives during the war.

(AP Photo/
Sandro Perozzi)

                                            Italian Jews aid World War II saviors hit by quake

Ariel David,
Associated Press Writer
April 13, 2009

– More than 65 years after villagers provided shelter to Italian Jews fleeing from the Nazis, a group of those who evaded capture rushed to repay that sacrifice in rural communities hard-hit by an earthquake.

A delegation of around 20 elderly Jews and their descendants — as well as community leaders — made their way to makeshift camps in the area around the mountain city of L'Aquila on Monday, peering into tents in a bid to find their saviors.

They offered everything from gym shoes to summer camps for children.

"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for these people," said Alberto Di Consiglio, whose parents were sheltered in the small hamlets of Fossa and Casentino during the war. "We have to help them."

More than 100 tent cities have been built around L'Aquila and the 26 towns and villages affected by the 6.3-magnitude quake, which struck central Italy on April 6.

The temblor killed 294 people and displaced another 55,000, damaging or destroying up to 15,000 buildings. Most of the homeless could spend weeks or months in tents as authorities have so far examined only 1,000 buildings, and declared 30 percent of those uninhabitable.

In the chaos of the relief efforts, Jews who had been sheltered in the area during the war lost touch with villagers, many of whom are simple farmers with no cell phones.

At least five Jewish families, around 30 people, took shelter in the small mountainside villages of Fossa and Casentino in mid-1943, when German forces began to take direct control of central and northern Italy. They remained there until the arrival of the Allies a year later.

In October 1943, a few weeks after the families left their native Rome, Nazi troops swept in on the capital's Old Ghetto neighborhood deporting more than 2,000 Jews. Only a handful survived the death camps.

The runaways initially hid in Fossa, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from L'Aquila, but were forced to flee to the nearby village of Casentino when warned the Germans had learned of their presence.

"We left at night, it was winter and the snow was up to here," Emma Di Segni said, gesturing to her waist. "We stayed in a ruined house until a woman took us in."

Though they had fake documents and posed as refugees fleeing Allied bombings, their hosts knew who they were and were aware they could be executed if caught sheltering Jews, Di Segni said.

"They knew what they risked, but they never said anything," she recalled.

Di Segni is in contact with descendants of her saviors now living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but she came to the tent camp set up outside Casentino to look for their next-door neighbors.

Officials provided a cell phone number for the family, who were out for the day. Di Segni cried into the phone as she made sure everyone was safe and invited them to stay at her home in Rome.

In one tent, Di Consiglio managed to find Nello De Bernardinis, 74, the son of the couple who sheltered Di Consiglio's father and eight other relatives during the war.

"It's so painful that such righteous people should suffer like this and live in a tent," Di Consiglio said. He reminisced how his aunt was born in the barn of the De Bernardinis and was baptized in the church to avoid suspicion from authorities.

With aftershocks still hitting the area Monday, Casentino was off-limits, but locals and visitors pointed out the now crumbled-church and the other ruined buildings in the village.

"Those were difficult times, like today," said De Bernardinis. "The Germans were always looking for Jews and we did what we could."

De Bernardinis said he was fine for the moment and greatly appreciated the gesture of the Jewish community to check in on him and his family. He said, though, that it would be useful to have help during harvest time, and Di Consiglio promised his whole family would come.

Riccardo Pacifici, the head of Rome's small community, said that the capital's Jews, which number less than 15,000, were already collecting money and clothing for all quake victims, but wanted to do more especially for communities that had helped during the war.

Luigi Calvisi, the mayor of Fossa — which lost five people to the quake and was heavily damaged — asked for sneakers for children. Holding talks with Pacifici in the tent camp where more than half of Fossa's 700 residents live, he also welcomed offers of specialized assistance for the elderly and a vacation for the young at a summer camp in Tuscany.

Pacifici said he would also work to get recognition from Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial for people like De Bernardinis and others who sheltered Roman Jews. The memorial bestows a special honor on those who saved Jews during World War II.

Irena Steinfeldt, director of the Righteous Among the Nations department at Yad Vashem, said the museum was not familiar with the stories of Fossa and Casentino. She urged the Jewish families to come forward.

"We want to hear these stories," Steinfeldt said. "I would be happy if the families contacted Yad Vashem and told us."

Other stories of Jews being saved in the same area were recorded, she said, usually involving Jews who fled from Rome to nearby villages.

The aid brought by saved Jews to the quake zone came in parallel with help from Germany, which has offered to rebuild the church of Onna, a village that was nearly flattened by the temblor. The hamlet was the site of a massacre of civilians by German troops in 1944, but a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stressed that the event was not the reason the place had been chosen.


Associated Press reporters

Matt Moore
in Berlin and

Matti Friedman
in Jerusalem

contributed to this report.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on April 13, 2009, 03:20:12 pm

Emma Di Segni, left, reacts as Italia Tagliacozzo talks on the phone with earthquake survivors Luisa e Giovanni Sarra, whose family sheltered their families during World War II, in the Casentino tent-camp, near L'Aquila, central Italy, Monday, April 13, 2009.

Italian Jews and Holocaust survivors are rushing to aid communities that sheltered them during World War II and were hit by last week's devastating earthquake.

(AP Photo/
Sandro Perozzi)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on April 13, 2009, 03:22:43 pm

Emma Di Segni reacts after talking on the phone with earthquake survivors Luisa e Giovanni Sarra, whose family sheltered her family during World War II, in the Casentino tent-camp, near L'Aquila, central Italy, Monday, April 13, 2009.

Italian Jews and Holocaust survivors are rushing to aid communities that sheltered them during World War II and were hit by last week's devastating earthquake.

(AP Photo/
Sandro Perozzi)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on April 13, 2009, 03:24:33 pm

Emma Di Segni points to the house of the Sarra family, where she and her family were sheltered during World War II, in Casentino, near L'Aquila, central Italy, Monday, April 13, 2009.

Italian Jews and Holocaust survivors are rushing to aid communities that sheltered them during World War II and were hit by last week's devastating earthquake. The Sarra family are earthquake survivors.

(AP Photo/
Sandro Perozzi)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on April 23, 2009, 07:03:34 am


Italian neurologist and senator for life Rita Levi Montalcini, Nobel Prize winner for Medicine in 1986, seen with
a glass, at the end of a press conference for her one hundredth birthday in Rome, Saturday April 18, 2009.

Montalcini will be 100 years old on April 22. The Italian scientist received the Nobel prize for medicine with
Stanley Cohen of the United States, in 1986, for discoveries of mechanisms that regulate the growth of cells
and organs.

(AP Photo/
Riccardo De Luca)

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on April 23, 2009, 07:05:23 am

                              Italian scientist Rita Levi Montalcini, turning 100, still works

APRIL 18, 2009

– Rita Levi Montalcini, Nobel Prize-winning scientist, said Saturday that even though she is about to turn 100,
her mind is sharper than it was she when she was 20.

Levi Montalcini, who also serves as a senator for life in Italy, celebrates her 100th birthday on Wednesday, and she spoke at a ceremony held in her honor by the European Brain Research Institute.

She shared the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine with American Stanley Cohen for discovering mechanisms that regulate the growth of cells and organs.

"At 100, I have a mind that is superior — thanks to experience — than when I was 20," she told the party, complete with a large cake for her.

The Turin-born Levi Montalcini recounted how the anti-Jewish laws of the 1930s under Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime forced her to quit university and do research in an improvised laboratory in her bedroom at home.

"Above all, don't fear difficult moments," she said. "The best comes from them."

"I should thank Mussolini for having declared me to be of an inferior race. This led me to the joy of working, not any more unfortunately, in university institutes but in a bedroom," the scientist said.

Her white hair elegantly coifed and wearing a smart navy blue suit, she raised a glass of sparkling wine in a toast to her long life.

Title: Re: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on April 23, 2009, 07:06:38 am

                                                       Montalcini feted at 100

                                                'Incredible gifts' of research funding

(ANSA) - Rome,
April 22, 2009

- Nobel prize winning scientist Rita Levi Montalcini was feted Wednesday as she turned 100 with a gala party at Rome's city hall.

For the occasion, Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini announced six million euros of funding to keep young researchers in Italy and an extra half million euros to keep Montalcini's brain research lab Ebri going.

''I would never have dreamed of such incredible gifts,'' said Montalcini, stressing that she devoted years to stemming Italy's brain drain and recalling her 15 years ''in exile'' in the United States.

Among those celebrating Montalcini at the ceremony hosted by Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno was Stanley Cohen, the US scientist with whom she shared the 1986 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of Nerve Growth Factor in the peripheral nervous system.

''We worked together for so many years and never argued,'' said Cohen, 86.

Asked last week to disclose the secret behind her long and healthy life, Montalcini said: ''Be happy to be alive and to be of service to others''.

''Perhaps the secret is to totally forget about yourself''.

In the past, the outspoken scientist has come out against obliging people to retire, something she defined as ''pre-death'', and has sharply criticised government spending cuts to scientific research and development.

She also bashed conservatives and the Church for opposing embryo research and accused fellow scientists of being co-responsible for the development of lethal high-tech weapons.

Montalcini was born in Turin on April 22, 1909 and obtained an honours degree in medicine and surgery from the city university in 1936.

Two of her university colleagues and close friends were Salvador Luria and Renato Dulbecco, who were later to receive the Nobel prizes in physiology and medicine, respectively.

After specialising in neurology and psychiatry she began work as a university assistant but, in 1938, was forced by Fascist religious persecution laws to leave her job.

Undeterred, she continued her research from her home.

Her most important work was carried out during her stay at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.

She is a member of numerous scientific academies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London and was the first woman to be admitted to Italy's Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in 1976.

In 2001, she revealed she had lost her eyesight but would continue working because her path was illuminated by the ''light of science''.