May 28, 2012

Interfaith Communities: Personal Resource Guide on Crypto-Jews

Posted in Interfaith at 12:12 am by chavalah

Front page to my resource guide on Crypto-Jews

Occasionally I try to funnel my graduate school education into my broader interests. 😛 Here is an endeavor of which I am particularly proud.

For my LBSC class we had to create individual “resource guides,” a web 2.0-influenced multimedia guide to information on a particular subject. I chose “crypto-Jews,” a “hidden” community of forced converts who secretly practiced Judaism. Though persecuted by Inquisitions in Spain, Portugal and the New World, their descendants still live on today, some still private about their Jewish practice, but others rejoining public consciousness as their own cultural subgroup.

As a child of interfaith marriage (specifically where Catholicism is involved,) I’ve always found Crypto-Jews to be worthy of awe and respect. Growing up Jewish means growing up with the knowledge that centuries of bloody persecution (and, some might argue, modern intermarriage rates) means that most of our community has been stripped away throughout the years. According to a 2008 study by the American Society for Human Genetics, 19.8% of people from the Iberian Peninsula are descended from Jews, whereas less than 1% are Jews today. So to hear of people who held onto their beliefs not only through intense medieval persecution but to this day was enough to make me feklempt.

I hope that my resource guide provides a comprehensive look into the past, present and future of this group. And to those descendants who are looking for a place to belong today, I feel you’re already a part of my mischpacha. Together, those of us with Catholic heritage, and any sort of multi-ethnic/religious heritage, can still carve out a community in the Jewish world. Welcome home.

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