Sunday, December 10, 2006

Converso Conversations

One historian's introduction to New Mexico's "crypto-Jews" came by way of a whisper campaign.

Within weeks of becoming New Mexico state historian, Stanley Hordes started receiving some odd visitors. They would enter his Santa Fe office, close the door -- and gossip about their neighbors.

"So-and-so lights candles on Friday nights," they would whisper.

"So-and-so doesn't eat pork," they would say.

The young historian was intrigued. Though the people Hordes spoke with were clearly Catholic, they reported following an array of Jewish customs. They talked about leaving pebbles on cemetery headstones, lighting candles on Friday nights, abstaining from pork and circumcising male infants.

When Hordes asked why they did such things, some said they were simply following family tradition. Others gave a more straightforward explanation.

"Somos judios," they said. We are Jews. [Link]

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