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Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY

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Author Topic: Sephardic Jews Leave Genetic Legacy In Spain - HISTORY  (Read 6291 times)
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« Reply #15 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)
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« Reply #16 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.
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« Reply #17 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
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« Reply #18 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)
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« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2008, 12:34:40 pm »

Famous People

Baruch Spinoza

Benjamin Disraeli

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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

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Pierre Mendès France
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« Reply #20 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. 
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« Reply #21 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.)
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« Reply #22 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)
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« Reply #23 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

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« Reply #24 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.
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« Reply #25 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.
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« Reply #26 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
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« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2008, 01:02:40 pm »

Miguel Bensús at the grave of his great-grandfather in the Jewish cemetery in Iquitos
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« Reply #28 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”.
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« Reply #29 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.
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