Honoring Inquisition victims, returnees

Not so long ago Tracing the Tribe wrote that, along with Holocaust Remembrance Day, there should be a day on which we honor the Inquisition’s victims. Many people agreed with this concept.

We have learned that Rabbi Stephen Leon (El Paso, Texas) will introduce a resolution honoring the Inquisition’s victims on Tisha B’Av at December’s biennial convention of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

It will also honor those forcibly converted to Catholicism in Iberia and elsewhere so long ago who have now returned to open Judaism.

This is music to Tracing the Tribe’s ears, if a blog can have such physical attributes. We also recommend that readers who are members of Conservative and other congregations should talk to their rabbis about the importance of this resolution and to the positive message it will send to millions of Converso/Bnai Anousim descendants who feel that mainstream Judaism ignores them.

Karen Primack also wrote the news in the Summer 2009 Kulanu Newsletter (Summer 2009).

This is the resolution’s text:

Resolution on the observance of Tisha B’av to be a day to commemorate the Spanish Inquistion and the return of the Anousim to Judaism

Whereas the holiday of Tisha B’av recalls the very day that the expulsion of the Jews from Spain took place in the year 1492; and

Whereas many Jews were forcibly converted to Christianity publicly, but continued to practice Judaism in secret; and Whereas many of the descendants of these Jews who are called B’nei Anousim have returned formally to Judaism today, and many are in the same process,

Now, therefore be it resolved that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism calls upon all of its affiliated congregations to formally observe Tisha B’av on an annual basis as an occasion to educate its members about the history and events of the Spanish Inquisition regarding the Jewish people, and to inform its members of the return of the B’nei Anousim to Judaism today; and Be it further resolved that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism helps to provide programs, speakers, films, and other appropriate materials for such Spanish Inquisition and B’nai Anousim commemorations on Tisha B’av.

Rabbi Leon, who is actively involved in assisting conversos/bnai anousim in many ways, is spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Zion, which will also receive an award at the convention for its annual Converso/Bnai Anousim conferences held for the past nine years, always held around Tisha B’Av.

Conferences have featured such speakers as Yaffa DaCosta, Sonya Loya, Art Benvenisti, Richard Santos, Rabbi Juan Meji, and Trudy Alexy z’’l (author, The Mezuzah in the Madonna’s Foot), and viewed films such as “The Longing” by Gloria Bohm, and about Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn’s work with Anousim in Latin America.

According to Rabbi Leon, “Tisha B’Av is the perfect time to mourn the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and to celebrate the return of their descendants, the Bnai Anousim of today.”

Tracing the Tribe supports this move and believes that the surrounding publicity in regard to this resolution and the award will raise awareness in Conservative congregations and among Conservative Judaism’s clergy and lay leaders around the world and spur more welcoming outreach to our friends.

Thank you, Rabbi Leon.


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