Children of the Bnei Anousim community in San Salvador, El Salvador, during a Havdalah ceremony. (Credit: Shavei Israel)
A recently published study surveyed the DNA of Latin Americans and revealed that despite immigration restrictions, many more bnei anousim (Jews forcibly converted during the Inquisitions of Spain and Portugal at the end of the 15th Century) arrived in the New World than previously thought. The results indicate that there may currently be over 150 million Latinos with Jewish ancestry.
The study, published in Nature last Wednesday, was one of the most comprehensive genetic surveys of Latin Americans ever. Their Jewish ancestry is more pronounced than in people in Spain and Portugal today, indicating that a significant segment of the immigrants that settled the New World were of Jewish descent.
“We were very surprised to find it was the case,” says Juan-Camilo Chacón-Duque, a geneticist at the Natural History Museum in London, who co-authored the paper.
Chacón-Duque and his colleagues sampled DNA from 6,500 people across Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, which they compared to that of 2,300 people all over the world. Nearly a quarter of the Latin Americans shared five percent or more of their ancestry with people living in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, including self-identified Sephardic Jews.
It is no surprise that a large portion of the population descended from Spain have Jewish ancestry. It is estimated that when the Spanish Inquisition began in 1478, approximately one-fifth of the Spanish population, between 300-800,000 people, were Jews. By 1492, when the Alhambra Decree gave the choice between expulsion and conversion, the number had dwindled to 80,000, half of who migrated. The vast majority of Jews converted with many of them retaining their Jewish identity in secret. The most intense period of the Spanish Inquisition lasted until 1530 and the last trial took place in Spain in 1818.
Ashley Perry, head of the government caucus for the descendants of Jews of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities, was surprised by the results:
“This study indicates that there are far more people of Spanish descent that have Jewish roots than previously thought, not only South Americans but also Latinos living in North America. As a result of this DNA research, it is now estimated that one-quarter of all Latinos in North America have five percent Jewish ancestry.”
Perry noted that the study only dealt with one specific population that may have Jewish roots.
“There are also a significant number of people in Spain, Portugal, and Italy who have a very high percentage of Sephardic Jewish ancestry,” Perry said. “I used to think there were 100 million people in the world that had Jewish roots but it now seems the number is closer to 200 million.”
The researchers were surprised to find that the Jewish population succeeded in moving to the New World. During the Inquisition, Jews were prohibited from immigrating to the New World. This remained true until Felipe III’s Royal Pardon of 1601, and Pope Clement VIII’s Papal Pardon three years later, both obtained through massive bribes. Jews began to immigrate despite the official ban and the Inquisition continuing in South America most notably in Mexico.
“There is a plethora of historical evidence to show that many of the people immigrating to the New World had Jewish ancestry,” Perry said. “Priests were writing back to the Church in Spain and Portugal complaining that the Jews outnumbered the Christians. They managed to forge documents or bribe their way.”
Perry explained their motivations for wanting to emigrate from Latin America.
“It was understandable since it was their way to get away from the center of persecution. Also, Brazil was under Dutch rule for a period of time and the Dutch government permitted the Jews to remain Jewish. When Brazil conquered Brazil, some of the Jews immigrated to the Netherlands.”
Perry noted that many of the countries in South and Central America had thriving Jewish communities despite the hardships. One of the more prominent examples he cited was the Jewish community in Suriname which was settled in the 18th Century by Jews from Spain, Portugal, Holland and Italy via Brazil. One of the original synagogues, Neve Shalom, had a floor covered in a thick layer of sand. Tradition holds that the sand was to muffle the sound of prayer, a holdover from when Jewish prayer was punishable by death.
Perry, a descendant of Spanish Jews, founded Reconectar, an organization to help people of Spanish and Portuguese descent with Jewish ancestry.
“We want to help them reconnect with their past,” Perry explained. “We are not a missionary organization. The person decides to what extent and in what manner they want to relate to their identity,” Perry said.
“One extreme could be a person who decides to move to Israel while another may just be interested in creating a family tree to map his heritage. Many people feel personally connected to Israel and this will help them express that. There are thousands of shades of gray in between. This is especially true now that we are dealing with a potential pool of hund
The University of Cape Town campus. Photo: Adrian Frith via Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Cape Town, the top-ranking academic institution in Africa, is set to consider enforcing an academic boycott against Israel later this month.
The UCT Senate, a decision-making body comprised primarily of professors and administrators, endorsed a proposal on March 15 to bar the university from entering into any formal relationship with Israeli academic institutions that operate “in the occupied Palestinian territories,” or otherwise enable “gross human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the university said in a statement.
The campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
JNS.org – Students at Brown University voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum held between Tuesday and Thursday, calling on the school to separate itself from companies that conduct business with the State of Israel.
The tally was 69 percent in favor and 31 percent against.
Members of the pro-Israel community nationally and locally condemned the outcome.
“For the sake of My servant Yaakov, Yisrael My chosen one, I call you by name, I hail you by title, though you have not known Me.” Isaiah 45:4 (The Israel Bible™)
Many have seen similarities between the Biblical King Cyrus and President Donald Trump. (Breaking Israel News)
After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!
Many are claiming this was a pre-election gift to Trump’s friend, Netanyahu, but it others see a much larger significance that transcends politics and enters into the realm of the Biblical. One such belief was expressed by Breaking Israel News publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who noted that the announcement came on the Jewish holiday of Purim.
“The same days on which the Yehudim enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.” Esther 9:22 (The Israel Bible™)
If there was ever a quintessentially Jewish holiday, it’s Purim, when the Jewish people were threatened by Haman, a descendant of Amalek, and saved by God’s hidden hand. Even so, we find examples of people from the Nations being inspired by the story of Purim and even gathering to mark the day alongside the Jewish people.
Protesters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags shout anti-Israel slogans during a demonstration in Amsterdam June 4, 2010. Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla has set off a diplomatic furor, drawing criticism from friends and foes alike and straining ties with regional ally Turkey, which cal. (photo credit: REUTERS)
AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags turned their backs on a Dutch chief rabbi during his eulogy at a vigil for Muslims killed in New Zealand.
The incident Sunday happened as Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs was discussing the meaning of a minute of silence at the gathering at the Dam Square World War II memorial monument. Thousands of people, many of them Muslims, gathered at the square to commemorate the 49 people slain Friday by a far-right killer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Hamas is now accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah of exploiting the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip to call on Palestinians to overthrow the Hamas regime. Fatah, for its part, is accusing the “dark forces” of Hamas of acting on orders from outside parties to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
The US administration says it will publish its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, known as the “Deal of the Century,” after the general elections in Israel on April 9
There is a difference between an “honest broker” and a “neutral arbiter.” In advance of the rollout of its Middle East peace plan, the Trump administration has taken a series of steps to ensure its role as the honest broker. The U.S. is not “neutral” between our ally, Israel, and the Palestinians who seek to replace it. But it won’t be easy to change presumptions that are deeply embedded in the
When the FBI informs us that parents are ready to spend up to $6.5 million in bribes to get their children into prestige colleges, it seemingly implies that all is very, very well in the American university. But Warren Treadgold tells us that’s an illusion.
He’s a distinguished professor of Byzantine history at St. Louis University who has also taught at Berkeley, FIU, Hillsdale, Stanford, and UCLA. Having entered college in 1967, he draws on long experience to both indict and offer a remedy of the most thoroughly left-wing major institution in America. His book, The University We Need (Encounter, 2018) presents its case with insight and a light touch.
The threat posed by Hezbollah and Ali Musa Daqduq, a senior operative in Hezbollah, was unmasked by Israel on Wednesday.
Daqduq was responsible for the “abduction and execution of five American servicemen in Iraq in 2007,” the IDF said. The role of Hezbollah members in neighboring states is an illustration of how groups allied with Iran are continuing to build a web linking Tehran to Beirut via a “road to the sea” that transits Iraq and Syria.
According to the IDF, the role of Daqduq includes establishing terror cells in Iraq to fight the US in 2006, stints training in Lebanon in 2013-2018 and now putting down roots in Syria.
Every few weeks, some political or national figure demands a national conversation about race. (Most recently, Senator Kamala Harris insisted, “We have not had these honest discussions about race.”)
What does a conversation about race mean? Invariably, an indictment of the fundamental unfairness of our country, the historical roots of racism in white supremacy, and the national guilt of white people.
Or, to put it more simply, why Senator Kamala Harris deserves to be in the White House.
We don’t have national conversations about anti-Semitism because the problem can’t be narrowed down to an easily blamed demographic. The Democrats invariably try to blame anti-Semitism on the usual suspects, white male Republicans living more than two hundred miles from a Starbucks, but the largest toll of violent anti-Semitic attacks tend to fall on New York City’s black neighborhoods.