What is a Crypto-Jew?


A Crypto-Jew is someone who is descended from the forced converts to Catholicism of Spain and Portugal. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, one-half of them went over the border into Portugal. 5 years later the Portuguese King wanted to marry the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. So they told him he would have to get rid of his Jews (through expulsion). He issued an expulsion edit that year and have the jews 10 months to leave (and a few did) but the remainder were forcibly en mass converted and sprinkled with holy water in the plazas, and were told they were now Catholics. 

These people were often called by the Christians marranos (an insult, it means pig or swine) because the regular Christians did not believe their conversion to Catholicism was sincere ... and indeed in many cases it was not sincere since it was forced and they had no free will choice in the matter. Many of the Jews descendants hid the Jewish customs and traditions in their home and passed them down to their descendants for many generations. When they went to the new world, the Inquisition (i.e. the reign of terror, torture and murder at the stake by auto de fe) followed them there. The flames of the Inquisition lasted for approximately 350 years (i.e. 16th, 17th, 18th and half of 19th centuries).


Where do the Crypto-Jews live today?


They live predominantly in North America (Canada and USA) and all the countries of Central America (ex. Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Panamá, etc), Latin America (especially Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, etc.), and the Caribbean (especially Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico). They are a part of the aliya from the West written about by Isaiah 43:5


Why do they need special assistance?


These Crypto-Jews are not accepted by the Rabbinic authorities unless they go through a process of "conversion" (to Judaism) or "return" (to the faith and traditions of their Jewish ancestors). And the latter process is what many of them want to do (if they have the proper evidences of Jewish ancestry). But they may have to undergo genealogy research done on their mother's family line (since Judaism comes from the mother), and possibly get documents about their ancestors from the country of origin of where their ancestors were from originally. They might need support to get an mtDNA test done (mother's line DNA) or to live to a Jewish community where they can learn the Jewish Law that was lost to them and their ancestors due to the generational persecutions.


What other kinds of assistance do Crypto-Jews need?


They need the same kind of assistance regular Jews need in terms of moving household expenses and living expenses in Israel when they first make aliya. But in addition, they may also need living expenses within Israel to just go there to be able to learn at a yeshiva and work with a Beit Din that will grant them the document (conversion or return certificate) they will need to be approved to make aliya by the Israeli government agency in charge of this.


Why should Christians help the Crypto-Jews?


These people are not Christians is their faith and traditions, and have lived in fear and dread of outsiders (to the family) for many generations because of the history of what had happened to their ancestors. They represent a "captive" people ... an exile within the exile of the Jewish people. The Jewish people were exiled from their land by the Romans, as most people know. The Jews of Spain and Portugal (and their colonies in the new world) were exiled from the rest of the Jewish world, and had to hide the fact that they were Jews. 


These are the people that we believe were written about in the prophecy of Obadiah 1:19 which says "the exiles from Jerusalem at Sepharad (Spain and Portugal) will inherit the cities of the Negev". But this will not happen without lots of help and support from many people. It will take all of us, arm in arm, working to help these people. Christians can provide financial support. Rabbinic authorities must be convinced that these people sincerely want to be restored to the faith and traditions of their ancestors from Spain and Portugal by Jewish Law (halacha).


The word in Portuguese is "saudades" which means longing, and these people are longing to be restored to the Jewish peoplehood and to the land of their inheritance from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).


MKs launch Knesset lobby for Sephardic Jews forcibly

converted to Christianity


According to lobby founders, increasing numbers of descendants of Jews around the world have become interested in exploring their heritage, reconnecting with the Jewish people.



A new Knesset lobby to push for greater outreach toward the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews forcibly converted to Christianity, known in Hebrew as B'nai Anusim, was launched on Tuesday.


In a letter read to the lobby’s inaugural gathering, President Reuven Rivlin stated that while in “Spain precious communities were forced leave their faith, their life and the values they grew up and raised their families” five hundred years ago, “Spanish Jews are still with us, and we must not forget them.”


According to lobby founders MK Robert Ilatov and Ashley Perry, increasing numbers of the descendants of Jews around the world have become interested in exploring their heritage and reconnecting with the Jewish people.


“For many of us in this room who are the descendants of those persecuted and forcibly converted in Spain and Portugal, we know that it would have been impossible for our ancestors to have even dreamed of this moment,” said Perry, a former advisor to erstwhile Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and the founder of the Reconnectar NGO.


However, while many would consider efforts to forge new ties to be merely fantasy, he said that he believed that “hanks to technological advances, like the Internet, DNA and Genealogical advances, we have a window of opportunity for this historic reconnection.”


”For us to succeed, we need to mobilize two communities to the existence and acceptance of each other. Firstly, we need to place the reconnection with the Bnei Anusim on the agenda of the Jewish world and the State of Israel, which I hope we are beginning to do here today. Secondly, we need to send a message to the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities, whether in the United States, Latin America or Europe, that if you seek a reconnection with the Jewish world, we will be there to help, guide and embrace you,” he said.


“Our people were forcibly ripped apart many generations ago and now is the time to rectify this historic injustice,” Perry asserted, calling it a “halachic mandate.”


“After 500 years, these people want to return to their Jewish roots and to return to the Jewish state,” said Ilatov, who is himself the descendant of Jews who chose to be expelled from Spain rather than face conversion.


Former Shas MK Haim Amsalem, a harsh critic of today’s conversion regime, criticized ultra-orthodox lawmakers for their absence, telling attendees that if the leading haredi rabbis did not allow their representatives to deal with conversion reform in Israel, issues of Jews around the world would not be a priority for them.


“It is our obligation” to reach out, he said.


According to Spanish Ambassador Fernando Carderera, more than the requests of more than 4300 Sephardic Jews for citizenship have been approved since the recent passage of a bill providing the descendants of the expellees with the opportunity to reconnect with Spain.


“You are looking for your anusim and we have already found our Sefaradim,” he quipped.


Speaking to the Post, Perry said that he believed that Tuesday’s meeting marked a “historic day” because “for the first time after hundreds of years …the Jewish people have on their agenda the necessity of reaching out and reconnecting with the descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities.”


“I hope that this will become one of the highest puts on the agenda of all the major Jewish Zionist organizations around the world.”


B’nai B’rith’s Alan Schneider told the Post that he believes that the new initiative sends a message to interested parties that Israel and the Jewish people reciprocate their desires and that “its going to be easier for them now to investigate their Jewish roots, to find out about Jewish tradition, learn about their traditions and how they relate to Judaism and eventually to decide if they want to take the greater leap of rejoining in a formal way with the Jewish people.”


“I think it also sends a message to the Jews in Israel and Jews around the world that there potentially is a much deeper margin of potential supporters, of family actually, there who feel close toward the Jewish people and the state of Israel and eventually can be called upon to be our supporters even if they choose to stay in their current status,” he said.


Michael Freund, whose Shavei Israel organization works with B’nai Anusim in several countries and operates a Spanish language conversion school in Jerusalem, likewise praised the concept, telling the Post that “not a day goes by that our representatives abroad don’t get a phone call, a letter or a knock on the door from someone who believes they are B’nai Anusim.”


A recent ebook he authored in Spanish on this topic garnered twenty thousand downloads in one month, indicating, he asserted, that there is great interest.


“It’s clear that the demand is out there and growing day by day. At the same time unfortunately many Jewish communities in the diaspora have not been open or welcoming to B'nai Anusim and in many cases slam doors in their faces. This is extremely unfortunate and needs to change. We all need to realize that restoring Anusim to Jewish people is our collective historical, moral and religious responsibility.”


See full article on source from the Jerusalem Post





The time has come when many more Jews are wanting to move "home" to Israel from the Americas. The Cyrus Foundation, a non-profit, tax-exempt Christian foundation, directed by Bart and Deborah Kellogg along with other ministry leaders, is helping to make it possible for needy Jewish people in North, Central and South America to return to Israel and make it their home once again.