My family visited Mexico City in November 2018 to visit my wife’s family. During the trip, we visited two bookstores and I purchased several books on the Inquisition and medieval history. One of the books I purchased was titled “Historias y Leyendas de Mexico 2”, i.e., History and Legends of Mexico.  At the book store, I looked through it quickly and found a story on the Inquisition so I included it in my selection.

I read the story later and was shocked. The story was indeed about a Converso/New Christian/ Crypto-Jewish family. The story, however, reversed the roles of Crypto-Jews and the Inquisitors.

In the story, the daughter of a prominent Converso fell in love with an Old Christian. Her father found out and was incredibly angry at the fact that she would sincerely embrace Christianity to marry him. He tortures and crucifies her and it is only the valiant Inquisitors who arrive to save the day. The father, of course, is executed.

Incredible. The one-story that I find among the legends of Mexico take Conversos and transforms it by combining medieval anti-Jewish stories of torturing and murdering Christian children and presents this as a justification for the Inquisitor’s actions.

My wife often tells me the intensity of anti-Semitism in Latin America. It is embedded in the culture. Its sometimes difficult for me to understand that, but the first time I visited my wife, before we were married, the taxi cab driver began his chit chat by telling me about the Jews. At the time, I wasn’t in full battle dress (as Rabbi Sherwin would say) i.e. kippah, tzitzit hanging out, etc., so I grinned and bore it and said something like, “How about them Cowboys”.

If you are interested in reading the story, the book can be found at the link below;

https://www.amazon.com/HISTORIAS-Y-LEYENDAS-MEXICO-2/dp/6078543431/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=Leyendas+de+mexico+II&qid=1565620782&s=gateway&sr=8-4

 


Posted by Rabbi Dr. Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez the director of the B’nei Anusim Center for Education. For a more complete review of Iberian Jewish history and the Crypto- Jewish Experience see Conversos and the Sabbatean Movement, and The Rise of the Inquisition.

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