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Tue Oct 17, 2017, 03:57 PM

THE CONVERSO COMEBACK

Hispanic crypto-Jews use social media and DNA testing to reconnect with their heritage
By Suzanne Selengut
October 17, 2017 • 12:00 AM



When retired civil servant Carl Montoya arrives for prayers at Mikveh Israel Synagogue in Philadelphia, he has a routine. He expertly wraps tefillin, dons his Sephardic prayer shawl, and greets his many friends in the pews. The Hebrew prayers can be tricky for him, but he is slowly mastering them all, together with the rest of Jewish ritual life. As a convert to Conservative Judaism and an active member of an Orthodox synagogue, Montoya has definitely broken from his past as a Catholic with deep roots in New Mexico’s historic Hispanic community. But what makes his story truly remarkable is not just that he is a Jew by choice, but that he is a Jew by birth.

Like many of the around 100 million other descendants of crypto-Jews of Spanish-Portuguese heritage globally, Montoya became curious about family lore. He learned his ancestors were Bnei Anusim—a Hebrew term for conversos, those forced to convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition—who fled from the Iberian Peninsula to what is now New Mexico. Montoya shares his heritage with many others in the American Southwest, Central and South America, Spain, and Portugal. In Spain alone, one in 20 Iberian men have DNA markers identifying them as having a Jewish background, while some 15 percent of Hispanic men in the Southwest have those markers.

More: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/246057/the-converso-comeback?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=2dfcab6e35-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_10_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-2dfcab6e35-206808209

Mazal tov to Mr. Montoya and all of the conversos uncovering their roots!

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