Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews

Welcome to the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews. It is our pleasure to introduce you to Volume 1 of the journal. You will find information on the contents of the first volume, information on the editorial board, and brief comments from the welcoming article which discusses the major issues in this fascinating and growing field of academic research. Also included is a brief "Recent Research Articles" which discusses the most recent DNA findings relating to Jewish and crypto Jewish DNA.

Also included for your convenience is information on purchasing individual copies of JOSPIC-J, subscribing to Volume 2 of the journal, submitting manuscripts for publication consideration, or submitting books for review consideration. Thank you for your interest. We hope to hear from you.

JOSPIC-J is published by Florida International University, and with sponsorship from the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies and the Martin Sosin-Stratton-Petit Foundation in Los Angeles.

The Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews (JOSPIC-J) brings together in one place, for the first time in a refereed academic journal, research on the three countries whose historic Jewish communities, each predating the Inquisition for centuries, suffered directly and greatly from Inquisitions. There is no consensus on whether to use the term marranos, conversos, crypto Jews, secret Jews, hidden Jews, lost Jews, New Christians, or anusim/anousim. But, whatever the term, significant research continues in international, sociological, cultural, religious, political, historical, and other areas, and the number of books and articles is increasing. Research on crypto Jews and their descendants should be integrated more with other interdisciplinary research, and this is one of the major goals of JOSPIC-J.

Brief Comments from the Welcoming Article

Welcome to the charter issue of the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews (Jospic J), published by the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), College of Arts and Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, Florida. Appreciation is expressed to Dr. Kenneth G. Furton, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. John F. Stack, Director of the School of International and Public Affairs, Dr. Richard S. Tardanico, Chairman of the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, and Dr. Zion Zohar, Director of the President Navon Program for the Study of Sephardic and Oriental Jewry, for their support. Special appreciation also is expressed to Martin Sosin and the Martin Sosin Stratton Petit Foundation of Santa Monica, California, for their generous support. JOSPIC-J is published with the cooperation and support of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies, and much appreciation is expressed to the Society (

The Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews is the first refereed academic journal published in the United States dedicated specifically to researching the crypto Jews of Spain, Portugal, and Italy, and their many descendants. By including Italy, this is the first refereed academic journal to give significant emphasis to all three of the European geographical areas controlled by Spain or Portugal, which felt the effects of the Spanish or Portuguese Inquisitions.

Table of Contents:

3 The Secret Jews of Spain, Portugal, and Italy and Their Descendants Today: Major Issues in a Growing Field of Academic Research Abraham D. Lavender

17 The Crypto Jews of Spain and Portugal David M. Gitlitz

26 The Barajas Women, Madrid 1634 David M. Gitlitz

33 The Jews of Sicily and Calabria: The Italian Anusim that Nobody Knows Barbara Aiello

49 Crypto Judaism in New Mexico and the American Southwest Seth D. Kunin

68 The Sephardic Legacy in the Spanish Caribbean: Crypto-Jewish Settlement in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica Stanley M. Hordes

77 The Jewish and Crypto-Jewish Participation in the Age of Discovery Barry L. Stiefel

95 Jews, Catholics, and Converts: Reassessing the Resilience of Convivencia in Fifteenth Century Plasencia, Spain Roger L. Martinez

121 Catholic, Jewish, and Crypto Jewish in the 1600s: The Geographic and Spiritual Peregrinations of Pacheco de Leon in Spain, Italy, and Mexico Matthew Warshawsky

140 Cecil Roth’s Disrupted Love Affair With the Secret Jews of Italy: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants Abraham D. Lavender

156 Recent Research Articles: From Roth to DNA

Editorial Page


ISSN 1943-8214

Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews (Jospic-J) is an academic journal published by the School of International and Public Affairs, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA, to disseminate research and developments in the study of crypto Jews and their descendants in past and present manifestations, through publication of peer-reviewed articles, papers, reports, and other literature.

Abraham D. Lavender
Florida International University

Dolores Sloan
Mount Saint Mary’s College

Managing Editor
Arthur Benveniste
Past Editor, HaLapid

Book Review Editor
Roger L. Martinez
St. Joseph’s University

Research and Technical Assistant
Elmer L. Rodriguez

Administrative Assistant
Gaston Rossato

Editorial Board

Barbara Aiello
Director, Italian Jewish Cultural
Center of Calabria (Italy

Stanley M. Hordes
University of New Mexico

Kathleen Alcala
Northwest Institute of Literary Arts

Seth D. Kunin
University of Durham (UK)

David M. Gitlitz
University of Rhode Island

Zion Zohar
Florida International University

For information on…
Submission of Manuscripts, see page 159
Book Reviews and Media Reviews, see page 159
Subscriptions and Single-Issue Sales, see page 160
Advertising and Change of Address, see page 160

Cover map by Willem Janzoon Blaeu, Amsterdam, 1635. (Ithaca, NY: Historic Urban Plans, http:/historicurbanplans.comtpl?id=553#553). Graphics by Dan Khoury. Printing by Eau Claire Printing, Eau Claire, Wisconsin (888-832-1135).


We review submissions in all disciplines relevant to the subject area. Submit four hard copies of the manuscript and an abstract of up to 150 words with one disk copy in a standard word processing program. Use 8 1/2 x 11 inch white paper with one inch margins on all sides. Contact the editor in chief regarding electronic submissions. Use APA style in 12 point Times New Roman double spaced, with three modifications:

  1. Endnotes are accepted, but moderation is encouraged (footnotes are not accepted);
  2. First names of authors are not required, but are preferred;
  3. Italicizing of non-English words as a general practice is acceptable, but is not required or encouraged. Submissions should be 6,000 to 10,000 words. Mail queries and submissions to:

Dr. Abraham D. Lavender, Editor in Chief, JOSPIC J, Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, FIU, Miami, FL 33199 USA. All submissions are refereed. Email is:


Subscriptions are $10 per year for individuals, and $20 per year for institutions. Add $4 for postage and handling for individual orders within the United States and $6 for international mail. See Order Form below.

Single Issue Sales

Single copies are available for $10. Add $4 for first class postage and handling within the United States, and $6 for international mailing. See Order Form below.

Change of Address

Send changes of address to Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews (JOSPIC J), 333 Washington Blvd. #336, Marina del Rey, CA 90292.

Advertising Inquiries

Send requests for information on advertising to Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews (JOSPIC J), 333 Washington Blvd. #336, Marina del Rey, CA 90292.

Order Form: Subscriptions and Single Issue Sales

Make check payable to F.I.U., with Memo/For to JOSPIC-J, in the amount of $10 per individual copy, $20 per Institutional copy. Add $4 for U.S. and $6 for international mailing. For each additional copy to same address, add $2 for U.S. and $3 for international mailing. If you prefer, you can write Florida International University instead of F.I.U., and Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews instead of JOSPIC-J.

Send to Dr. Abraham D. Lavender, JOSPIC-J, Dept. of Global and Sociocultural Studies, FIU, Miami, FL 33199 USA (



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Recent Research Articles

Cecil Roth's A History of the Marranos in 1932 can be considered the beginning of the modern study of marranos, and his The History of the Jews in Italy was the first book to discuss at length the secret Jews of Italy. He relied on historical records including limited records from the Inquisition period, folk legends, anecdotes, tombstone inscriptions, rabbinical responses, decisions of civil courts, interviews, and other material. Other researchers also have justly relied on a variety of sources, and as noted by articles in this issue of the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews, Inquisition records, more available than they were in the 1930s and 1940s, have a very special importance. Nothing can replace the rich original Inquisition records with their painful details. The fact that inquisitors recorded their actions in such detail is an interesting commentary on human behavior, but at the same time their records provide much historical and genealogical information. But, especially since the 1990s, DNA research also has been able to add more infor-mation to crypto Judaic studies. As has been noted, DNA research frequently cannot provide definitive answers about a specific individual's possible secret Jewish an-cestry, but it can provide insightful information about history. There are many articles on Sephardic DNA, but the purpose of this brief dis-cussion is to describe three recent research projects about crypto Jewish DNA:

(1) "The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula." The American Journal of Human Genetics, 83, 725 736, December 12, 2008, Susan M. Adams and others. This article is based on analyses of the Y chromosome (male) DNA of 1,140 males from the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands (Spain, n=849; Portugal, n=138; islands=153). Following the male line backwards, 19.8% of these males in contemporary Iberia, mostly Catholic today, have a Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Another 10.6% have a North African (mostly Berber or Arabic) ancestry.

This is the article of which Michael Freund wrote that "a team of biologists dropped a DNA bombshell," and that these "are not the wild eyed speculations of a newspaper columnist, but rather cold, hard results straight out of a petri dish in a laboratory" (2009, p. 10).

There are some regional variations within Iberia. For example, in Asturias (with a small sample) 45.2% of the men had a Jewish DNA pattern, in southern Portugal, 36.3%, Aragon, 35.8%, Ibiza, 33.0%, and Extremadura, 28.7%. On the other hand, northeastern Castile, Catalonia, Gascony, and Minorca had low percentages, under 10%. Other examples, close to the overall average, include Majorca, 21.5%, north-ern Portugal, 23.6%, and Andalucia, 23.6%. Other results were eastern Andalucia, 17.6%, Castilla la Mancha, 18.0%, northwestern Castile, 12.9%, Galicia, 16.9%, and Valencia, 15.1%. Future research will find even more variations in different locations both in and outside Iberian, but the overall conclusion is that one in five Hispanic males is from a Jewish ancestry on the direct male line. Some of these genetic findings resulted from voluntary interactions, but undoubtedly many (and probably most) are the result of the forced assimilation during the Inquisitions.

It also is noted that much less, but still a noticeable amount, of assimilation went the other way, i.e., that men of originally non-Semitic ancestry and their descendants also became Jewish. During parts of convivencia, with "a mixture of Islam, Mesopotamian Sufi mysticism, and a healthy dose of syncretism in harmony with Christian and Jewish spirituality," interactions went both ways (Juan Garcia Atienza, The Knights Templar in the Golden Age of Spain: Their Hidden History on the Iberian Peninsula, 2001, p. 69).

(2) "Counting the Founders: The Matrilineal Genetic Ancestry of the Jewish Diaspora." Online at http:/www.plosone.orgarticle (or google important words), published April 30, 2008, Doron M. Behar and others. This research project analyzed 1,142 female DNA samples from fourteen different non Ashkenazi Jewish communities. Two samples from the Spanish Portuguese Sephardic Diaspora were included (Bulgaria, n=71, and Turkey, n=123), but of special importance to crypto Judaic studies is the sample of 30 women from Belmonte, Portugal. Of the thirty women, 93.3% (28) were attributed to one founding mother, thereby suggesting that the crypto Jewish community in Belmonte is "one endogamously expanding family, at least on the maternal side."

(3) "Crypto Jews From Tras os Montes, Portugal: A History Told by the Y Chromosome." HaLapid: Journal of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies, XVI, 22 31, Spring 2009, Ines Nogueiro, Leonor Gusmao, and Antonio Amorim. This research analyzed DNA samples "from sixty unrelated self designated Jewish males from several villages" in Tras os Montes and also from Belmonte. The researchers found a "rather surprising" degree of diversity for a "demographically small and inbred community," but the research showed that Jews of Tras os Montes are more similar genetically with European and Middle Eastern Jews, particularly Sephardim, than with non Jewish Portuguese (p. 27).

For a sociological explanation of similarities and differences between Sephardi and Ashkenazi genetics and medical issues, see my recent article "DNA Origins and Current Consequences for Sephardi, Mizrahi, and Ashkenazi Males and Females." Journal for the Study of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry, 2008-2009, 2, 2, online at adl