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Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism

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This book reviews types of Iberian Conversos (i.e. primarily forced but also voluntary Jewish converts to Christianity) from the late 14th to the 17th centuries and surveys the Christian and Jewish attitudes towards them. The book begins with a brief history of Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula noting critical events such as the forced conversions of Jews under the Visi This book reviews types of Iberian Conversos (i.e. primarily forced but also voluntary Jewish converts to Christianity) from the late 14th to the 17th centuries and surveys the Christian and Jewish attitudes towards them. The book begins with a brief history of Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula noting critical events such as the forced conversions of Jews under the Visigoths and the Almohades. The direct events leading to mass conversions of Jews in the late 14th century and the aftermath in the 15th century are reviewed. This study examines texts and decrees that reveal that many Christians doubted the sincerity of these Jewish conversions to Christianity, and how they still regarded and treated Conversos as Jews. Different types of Conversos are then discussed. The challenges and situations each Converso faced were unique and produced different outlooks towards Jewish identity and faith in general. Various Jewish sources, including rabbinic responsa, sermons, and other documents are also analyzed. These sources reveal the positive attitudes of Jews towards Conversos and the Jewish community’s desire for them to return to Judaism openly. Other studies suggest that as a whole, Conversos either fully retained their Jewish identity or sincerely embraced Christianity. This study argues that the Jewish identity of Conversos was complicated and existed along a broad spectrum ranging from complete abandonment to ardent Judaizing. The book concludes by exploring the stories of descendants of Conversos in the United States, Latin America, and in Spain and Portugal, who are searching and often embracing a Jewish identity once thought lost.


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This book reviews types of Iberian Conversos (i.e. primarily forced but also voluntary Jewish converts to Christianity) from the late 14th to the 17th centuries and surveys the Christian and Jewish attitudes towards them. The book begins with a brief history of Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula noting critical events such as the forced conversions of Jews under the Visi This book reviews types of Iberian Conversos (i.e. primarily forced but also voluntary Jewish converts to Christianity) from the late 14th to the 17th centuries and surveys the Christian and Jewish attitudes towards them. The book begins with a brief history of Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula noting critical events such as the forced conversions of Jews under the Visigoths and the Almohades. The direct events leading to mass conversions of Jews in the late 14th century and the aftermath in the 15th century are reviewed. This study examines texts and decrees that reveal that many Christians doubted the sincerity of these Jewish conversions to Christianity, and how they still regarded and treated Conversos as Jews. Different types of Conversos are then discussed. The challenges and situations each Converso faced were unique and produced different outlooks towards Jewish identity and faith in general. Various Jewish sources, including rabbinic responsa, sermons, and other documents are also analyzed. These sources reveal the positive attitudes of Jews towards Conversos and the Jewish community’s desire for them to return to Judaism openly. Other studies suggest that as a whole, Conversos either fully retained their Jewish identity or sincerely embraced Christianity. This study argues that the Jewish identity of Conversos was complicated and existed along a broad spectrum ranging from complete abandonment to ardent Judaizing. The book concludes by exploring the stories of descendants of Conversos in the United States, Latin America, and in Spain and Portugal, who are searching and often embracing a Jewish identity once thought lost.

52 review for Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steve Cran

    1492 was recorded as one of th lost disastrous for the Jewish people residing in Spain. The three choices were simple conversion, death or leave Spain. In reality, though, their terror began in 1391, the Visogoths forced all,the Jews to convert or die. Many Jews chose to convert . Some Jews survived by fleeing to another kingdom but as the years rolled by the antisemitism would,catch up and they would face pogroms. Between the years 1391 to 1492 the Jews would face several outburst of antisemiti 1492 was recorded as one of th lost disastrous for the Jewish people residing in Spain. The three choices were simple conversion, death or leave Spain. In reality, though, their terror began in 1391, the Visogoths forced all,the Jews to convert or die. Many Jews chose to convert . Some Jews survived by fleeing to another kingdom but as the years rolled by the antisemitism would,catch up and they would face pogroms. Between the years 1391 to 1492 the Jews would face several outburst of antisemitism. Much of the antisemitism was Church inspired and rhe peasantry were the ones who carried out the violence. Sometimes the nobility would try to protect them but to no avail , the mob rules. Jews who converted to Catholicism were known by several names Marrano (pigs), conversos and Anusim . Once convert they went to church and outwardly tried to be the best Christians possible. Inwardly though many Anusim continued to practice whatever Judaism they could at home and practice Christianity on the outside. Conversos were never fully accepted. The neighboring Chrisitisns regard them with suspicion . In fact conversos never got much of a Christian education any wonder they practiced their Judaism. Many were accused of Judaizing. The book examines rabbinical,attitudes toward the Anusim and how the other Jews interacted with them. Never quite fitting in once they left many would make an open return while,others would hide. The hiding continues to is day with many in Latin American countries claiming descent from Anusim. Gaining acceptance into,e Jewish community has many challenges and the Jewish community has a variety of ways it responds.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zhelana

    This book competes with both major threads of Spanish Inquisition research (the conversos were Jews and the conversos were Christians) by saying "reality is far more complex than that." Which, it usually is. It provided a lot of case studies, and not much summing up in order to make the point that no two conversos' stories were the same. Some were devout Jews; some were devout Christians. Others were neither (as the case of Spinoza proves). He argues against Netanyahu's dismissal of the inquisit This book competes with both major threads of Spanish Inquisition research (the conversos were Jews and the conversos were Christians) by saying "reality is far more complex than that." Which, it usually is. It provided a lot of case studies, and not much summing up in order to make the point that no two conversos' stories were the same. Some were devout Jews; some were devout Christians. Others were neither (as the case of Spinoza proves). He argues against Netanyahu's dismissal of the inquisitional records, but also relies on other types of records himself, claiming all of them are equally reliable, and ignoring the inquisitional records assumes for a giant conspiracy theory that just doesn't seem possible in reality. Overall this was a good book, although it suffered from some organizational issues, bouncing back and forth between time periods in a way that didn't always make sense.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gale F. Barnett

    Detailed discussion of converso history This book was scholarly and very detailed. It was also a shocking expose of the brutal repression of Jews who were persecuted and forcibly converted by the Christian majority. Amazing Jews have persisted despite there travails throughout history. The violence against Jews in the earlier centuries in Europe must have given Hitler ideas of what to do. Many of the atrocities were similar. I found the book ponderous and more detailed than I expected. It seemed Detailed discussion of converso history This book was scholarly and very detailed. It was also a shocking expose of the brutal repression of Jews who were persecuted and forcibly converted by the Christian majority. Amazing Jews have persisted despite there travails throughout history. The violence against Jews in the earlier centuries in Europe must have given Hitler ideas of what to do. Many of the atrocities were similar. I found the book ponderous and more detailed than I expected. It seemed a never-ending book of named people, which was a thread, but Morgan engaging storyline.

  4. 4 out of 5

    guy hicks

  5. 5 out of 5

    MELVIN TAFF

  6. 5 out of 5

    Will

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gary Krupp

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Ben Yosef

  9. 5 out of 5

    james h. mathis sr.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Craine

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Altshuler

  12. 4 out of 5

    Juan Marcos

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chitranjan Lall

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carl S Gale

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ari Wancier

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  17. 5 out of 5

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  18. 4 out of 5

    Gigi Harpaz

  19. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Goolsby

  20. 5 out of 5

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  21. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian Jaymes

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Fürth

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Rogovy

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Burech

  25. 4 out of 5

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  26. 4 out of 5

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  27. 4 out of 5

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  30. 4 out of 5

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  48. 4 out of 5

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  49. 4 out of 5

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  50. 4 out of 5

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  51. 4 out of 5

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  52. 4 out of 5

    Pedro Blasco

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