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Why do Haredim Target the Modern Orthodox?


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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 5:36:09 AM PST
jeffesq613 says:
I'm even more confused now.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 11:41:01 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 29, 2012 11:52:06 AM PST
jaime says:
If the mother or caregiver has never been to a cemetery, never been in a hospital (is there a hospital where people don't die?), has never touched a person who HAS experienced either of the above, and has never touched a person who HAS touched such a person, etc. etc. etc.

Highly unlilkely. How could the mother reach adulthood without ever having touched anyone who had touched someone who had touched someone who had touched someone who had touched someone who....had touched someone who had touched someone who had experienced any of the above?

And so she is 99.99% certain to have experienced...how do you say it? tamei mot?...before she ever conceives. Possibly even before she was born, from her own mother. There would have to be at least another generation of isolation and deathlessness before a child could be conceived and reach adulthood without contact with tamei of death.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 11:47:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 2, 2012 3:38:15 PM PST
jaime says:
I was trying to provide YOU with a wider definition of "heretic" as used by the Catholic Church during the period of the Inquistion from 1492 to its ending around 1900 and how it did indeed apply to nearly all "new Christians" accused of being crypto-Jews. Granted, there were not "many" killed under its "authority" during that entire period, but certainly the definition of heresy did NOT require TEACHING anything, which was ALL I tried to explain to you.

I have no idea how the Crusades had anything to do with the Christian definition of heresy.

I never said that the Catholic definition of heresy applied to Jews. It applied to those who were baptized as Christians, of course. However, it failed to require that those accused were TEACHING anything in particular, or even SAYING anything in particular. It only required that the New Christian be accused of behaving as if Torah mattered, in the case of New Christians (who are still thus designated, dozens of generations after the conversion of their ancestors).

Perhaps there are also behaviors among "old Christians" that also constitute heretical BEHAVIOR in the eyes of the church.

Why do you keep referring to unbaptized Jews in the context of a discussion of heresy? Why do you persistently ignore the fact that ALL I said was that TEACHING is unnecessary for a person's being accused of heresy?

As for Jews, we both know that unbaptized Jews cannot be Christian heretics, since they were never Christian at all.

Nor did I say anything about what group suffered the most victimization.

I merely pointed out that TEACHING heresy failed, and still fails, to be necessary for a person to be guilty of heresy, regardless of who the accused may be.

Yet you continue to "refute" all kinds of irrelevancies which I never mentioned. It is difficult to imagine you could have read all that irrelevancy into my posts. My posts addressed your mistaken DEFINITION of HERESY among Catholics, and initially mentioned nothing about the persection of unbaptized Jews; however, once YOU introduced the topic of generalized persecution of Jews, I may have said that I was not addressing that irrelevant topic.

I trust that any further discussion of unbaptized Jews or general persecution of Jews will become a separate topic, and that you will avoid further irrelevant imposition of that topic on the discussion of heresy.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 12:05:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 29, 2012 12:11:56 PM PST
jaime says:
yba
You are fairly correct as far as you go; but you provide a very limited understanding of teh era. I attempted to provide you with the definition of "heretic" as it was used in the time period you were describing, and why it could not be used for religious Jews of the time period.

Hanalah
I never said it could be used for unbaptized Jews.

Kindly stop claiming that I did. You are whipping a dead horse.

I SAID--repeatedly--that BAPTIZED Jews ("New Christians") could be "relaxed" to the Inquisition if accused of Jewish behavior, even though the behavior was carried out in secret and never TAUGHT to anyone.

My point was simply that TEACHING heresy is UNNECESSARY for a person to be burnt at the stake for heresy. I gave the source, "Heretic or Daughter of Israel," in which baptized New Christians--usually housewives--were accused of avoidance of pork or of changing the linens for Shabbos, or of other "Judaizing" BEHAVIORS, rather than of TEACHING anything.

Quite likely there are other heretical BEHAVIORS (communication with, or worship of, the devil? Various Protestant practices? Attendance at a Protestant communion? I'm not sure what) which, carried out in secret, applied to "Old Christians" and which similarly were without any need of TEACHING heresy.

So your definition, which insisted that heresy consisted ONLY of TEACHING, was mistaken, as the Inquisitorial records themselves demonstrate.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 12:15:32 PM PST
jeffesq613 says:
Hanalah: If the mother or caregiver has never been to a cemetery, never been in a hospital (is there a hospital where people don't die?), has never touched a person who HAS experienced either of the above, and has never touched a person who HAS touched such a person, etc. etc. etc.

No, now you're getting a little too far removed. There are levels of tumah:

Avi Avot Ha'Tumah = the Jewish corpse

Av Ha'Tumah = one who is an ohel with the corpse or who came into physical contact with the corpse.

Rishon La'Tumah = one who came into contact with an Av Ha'Tumah.

The person who is a Rishon La'Tumah cannot make another person tamei. He can only make food or vessels tamei.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 1:50:57 AM PST
yba says:
You have no excuse, I am the one who is old! :)
Truthfully, I don't even remember what I was confused about. Age does have its perquisites. That, and you get to meet so many new friends

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 2:03:55 AM PST
yba says:
Calm down, Old Gal,, don't take it personally. I dispute your definition of heresy in the Middle Ages, which I( consider to have begun, fror our purpose, approximately in the year 1,000. The definition remained in force through the inquisition and into the 18th-century. It may have changed after that, but I referred specifically to a particular time period that encompassed the inquisition.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 2:14:56 AM PST
yba says:
Let us drop the entire matter. You are sure you are right, I have given you my undersstanding, from more that a modicum of study and teaching experience. I have provided you with a case studh of an actual occurrence during an official inquisition.
It does not matter to me, others may accept your definition or research it out on their own.
I will drop this as it is getting boring. Late Middle-Ages through the 16th-century were my field of historical training and teaching.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 11:32:08 AM PST
Uncle Pinky says:
Just as a point of curiosity: when was the rack invented?

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 1:14:57 PM PST
yba says:
Most consider the rack to have been invented in England about the middle of the 15th century.
I, however, am a disagreeable cuss, as you know. I believe the Greeks first used it, though I have no hard evidence for this. However, ion Greek Mythology, jPoseidon had a son, a blacksmith, by the name of Procustes or Procrustes, who, as legend goes, designed a one-size fits all bed. He is infamous for luring strangers to stay in this bed and when, they were too short, he stretched them to fit the bed. The longer fellows, he simply shortened their limbs.
IO find it strange that they would include this in mythology out of sheer imagination and nothing else.j But, I think the first documented use of the rack was just prior to 1450 in England.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 1:25:22 PM PST
jaime says:
There is no use your claiming to determine the definition of heresy.

The Inquisition's definition of heresy did indeed include actions without teachings. Its records demonstrate this. What makes you assume that such cases fail to exist?

You are insisting on a definition all your own, contrary to that of the Inquistion. I have offered my source, which quotes the inquisition's own records for several different accused families. Teaching is absent from all of them, thus demonstrating that teaching failed to ALWAYS be necessary for the accusation of heresy to obtain.

The records of the inquisition are cited in the book, "Heretics or Daughters of Israel?" which I have now mentioned for the third time.

Do you demand that I type out the pages and pages of material from a specific case in order to demonstrate that heresy did INDEED include actions without requiring also teaching.

Why would your "more than a modicum of study and teaching experience" omit those instances where teaching was not the case? That would be the same as saying that there were NO New Christians who were accused of heresy. Do you really imagine that ALL of the New Christians who were accused of heresy were accused of TEACHING something as well as DOING something? On the contrary, the vast majority of such people kept their Judaizing practices secret, or tried to, even from fellow New Christians.

You realize that I, too, have been involved with this issue over many years. My main focus is on the era when the most New Christians were "relaxed" to the Inquisition, which is from roughly 1400 to 1600. The Inquisition remained in effect after that, but relatively few were executed in those later centuries.

And I am not sure "I" am right. I am sure that the sources which I have read, detailing the Inquisition's record of the accusations made and the questions asked, are accurate. The book prints Inquisitorial records of cases in which the accusations fail to include ANYTHING about teaching anything.

You are insisting that such records fail to exist, and of course they DO exist.

Evidently your expertise focuses ONLY on cases in which teaching is an element.

That fails to prove that ALL other cases ALSO included teaching as an element.

You might consider that there are SOME Inquisitorial records which you have omitted in your vast reading. (I am not being facetious; I assume your reading IS vast.)

Have you read every single record? If not, how can you be so sure that those I have read fail to exist?

Yes, you have a case study of AN actual occurrence during AN official inquisition.

Do you need me to type out AN actual occurrence during AN official inquisition? There are several in the book, but I don't know if my arms and shoulders are up to typing so many pages. The issue of teaching is totally absent in all of the cases quoted at length in the book. The issue is always on reversion to Jewish practice on the part of New Christians.

Why do you refuse to believe me?

Yes, it is boring, but your insisting that I am telling an untruth is offensive. Only one who has read every single Inquisitorial record against New Christians could possibly claim to KNOW that the accusation ALWAYS included teaching--and this one book includes several which FAIL to include teaching.

WHY are you unwilling to accept the simple and obvious and well-known fact that New Christians were "relaxed" to the Inquisition for "reverting" to Jewish practices, such as lighting Shabbat candles, avoiding non-kosher meat, or avoiding bread on Pesach? The only reason that people kept these practices a secret--some of them are still going down to the basement to light candles every Friday night--was because everyone KNEW that if they were known, they would be subject to the Inquisition.

I personally interviewed a crypto-Jew in New Mexico in whose family the flatware was kept in separate drawers (for milchig and fleishig).

I read an interview of a crypto-Jew in Spain who kept his tefillin in a secret safe in a basement room and knew how to put them on when he wanted to pray.

The secrecy occurs because of the fear. The fear occurs because if the Jewish observance were known, the Inquistion might step in. But the real evidence is in the inquisitorial records themselves, and the records are in book after book.

You could easily obtain the book from interlibrary loan and see for yourself. You don't have to believe me. If you really want to know, you WILL send for the book and ascertain the facts to your own satisfaction.

If you fail to obtain the book for free from the library, it will mean you don't want to know the facts, but want to retain what you concluded before the information became available to you.

Suit yourself.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 1:50:36 PM PST
yba says:
Get off your high horse.

Prof. Renée Levine Melammed is an excellent scholar and appears to be a fine writer. I would never disprage her, her ability or her scholastic credentials.
She, like most accomplished historians, specializes in a narrow area. Hers is Jewish history, particularly women, in the period of the Inquisition dealing withi cnversions, particularly under duress.
Your mistake was to expand what she said to use broad brush strokes that encompassed the entire inquisition especially outside of Spain, Professor Melammed's area of special expertise.
I simply corrected our error. You don't have to believe me, it does not matter to me.
Will you let the poor quadraped equine in peace now? He died quite some time ago.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 2:02:17 PM PST
Linda Sang says:
Hanalah: You realize that I, too, have been involved with this issue over many years. My main focus is on the era when the most New Christians were "relaxed" to the Inquisition, which is from roughly 1400 to 1600. The Inquisition remained in effect after that, but relatively few were executed in those later centuries.

And I am not sure "I" am right. I am sure that the sources which I have read, detailing the Inquisition's record of the accusations made and the questions asked, are accurate. The book prints Inquisitorial records of cases in which the accusations fail to include ANYTHING about teaching anything.

You are insisting that such records fail to exist, and of course they DO exist.

Linda: I think I definitely need to read that book you mentioned. I've been fascinated by Conversos aka Marranos ever since I first heard about them when I was in my teens. I'm trying to break myself of saying "Marrano" because I actually met one recently, and he told me the term is offensive because it literally means "swine." I've known that for a while, but since it was the word I've used all my life I kept on using it.

It sounds like you know a lot more about them than I do, so I guess I need to play catch-up.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 5:47:28 PM PST
Uncle Pinky says:
Thank you so much!

I recall seeing a rack - along with other instruments of torture - at Tussaud's Wax Museum when I was taken to Expo '67.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 7:33:56 PM PST
jaime says:
I did not define heresy.

I disputed your claim that ALL heresy involves teaching.

I noted that SOME heresy involves behavior rather than teaching.

A statement that ALL X are Y can be disproven by even ONE example of X which is OTHER than Y.

So why do you continue to insist that I am in error in claiming that there exists at least ONE instance of heresy (actuallyl many) which fail to include charges of teaching?

Especially since you acknowledge that Melammed is an excellent scholar?

Why do you continue to insist that the statement that such examples exist is false?

YOU are the one who made the "broad brush strokes" to claim that ALL heresy involves the charge of teaching.

I merely said that SOME heresy occurs WITHOUT any charge of teaching.

Why does the assertion that something that exists, does indeed exist, constitute being on a "high horse"?

It seems to me that it is YOUR claim that such existent occurences are null which amounts to "high horsemanship".

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 7:35:16 PM PST
jaime says:
The usual inoffensive word is "crypto-Jews".

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 7:40:50 PM PST
jaime says:
Are you under the impression that I claim some generalization?

I don't claim any generalization.

I merely dispute YOUR sweeping generalization.

I noted that Melammed has cited several counterexamples to your sweeping generalization that ALL charges of heresy involve teaching.

Do you acknowledge that SOME charges of heresy fail to involve teaching?

If you do acknowledge this, then we agree and have agreed all along.

So stop saying that I am in error for citing Melammed's factual report that SOME (many) charges of heresy DID occur without charges of teaching.

I am citing the fact that SOME (MANY) charges of heresy, and instances of New Christians being "relaxed" to the Inquisition, did occur in the period in question.

YOU keep referring to my "error"--but if I were in error, such instances would be nonexistent. In fact, MANY such instances DID indeed occur.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 2:36:23 AM PST
yba says:
My pleasure. I once knew a young woman who did her thesis on the use of torture in the 15th-century. She was absolutely fascinated by methods of torture. It always reminded me of how one can use one's yetser ha ra directed toward good instead of evil. I did not know that this was her inclination, but she was a little off plumb in her thinking, at least form societal norms.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 3:18:51 AM PST
yba says:
It seems that we were talking a cross purposes about the sme thing. I spoke in a generalization that heresy in the Middle Ages, especially in the times of the Inquisition was directed at the teaching of doctrine not approved of by the Church.
It was a generalizations and like ALL generalizations often falls short in practice from its intended purpose. I used the Crusades to illustrate that point.
I seriously doubt that I ever said that ALL instances involved teaching. I believe you are in error when you attributed that to me.
I do not dispute Professsor Renee Levine Melammed's findings as you have presented them. Although I am not familiar with her writing or research, she appears to be, from my meager inquiries, to be a very accomplished professor and researcher, particularly in her area of specialty, which is Castillian/Spanish Jewry and their history during the waning of the Middle-Ages into Early-Modern times.
I would seriously doubt that she would have objected to anything I have written unless, as you have claimed, I stated an absolute or all-encompassing "historical law" that demanded all heresy charges include the teaching aspect. That was the general definition and not an absolute.
Had you used the term som, or even many, or, even most of documented cases that Professor Melammed cited did not involve teaching, I would not have argued with you at all. It would be inconsistent for her to find otherwise given the parameters of the work you cited. Correct me if I am wrong, but the work had to do, in my reading, with the Daughters, underlined, of Israel, Jewish Women. Not only in Spain, but a particular region of Spain called Castille.
You talked about the Catholic definition of heresty but what you meant was the practice of the Inquisition in Castille Spain's women as f ound in Professor Melammed's book. You were discussing a very particularly defined study and generalizing it to the Inquisition as a whole. THat was my objection, not to findings of torture inconsistent with the Inquisition in general. The matter you were speaking of is consistent with what I had said; I simply broadened your remarks because they read inaccurately as far as historical understanding to the purpose of the Inquisition.
Jews at that time would, naturally, viewed the purpose as torture. It would hbe extremely difficult, particularly in Spain and Portugal, to view it in any other way. My point was that those cases were anomalous when viewed against the entire canvas of the Inuisition. Not rare, but anomalous.
The designed purpose of the Inquisition, except to rabid Anti-Catholics as, wome of whom, you met on your previous threads, was to save souls from purgatory and bring them back into the fold of the Church, similar in nature to the design of Teshuva and of excision in Judaism.
Remember the laws that put peole outside the camp for a while? Some would claim that was strictly punishment. I would disagree. I would opine that it was most likely to protect the camp as a while encouraging them toward teshuva and return. They were put out of the camp, not as punishment, but for the purpose of return.
This, however, went awry in some cases during the Middle-Age practice of Christianity. I am guessing that Professor Melammed found these cases. Her study may even have found that the majority of cases in Castille were under the authority of a deranged individual. Everybody has those in their ranks.

Now can we let this damn beast. I would suggest that each of us, you and I, read carefully the posts of the other in the future. Or, maybe, our misreadings of the other's posts brings on an argument that sheds greater light on the issue.
Best regards,
yba

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 3:00:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 2, 2012 6:52:15 PM PST
jaime says:
yba
I spoke in a generalization that heresy in the Middle Ages, especially in the times of the Inquisition, was directed at the teaching of doctrine not approved of by the Church.

Hanalah
You proffered that generalization as your DEFINITION of heresy.
I offered the counterexample to indicate that it was a sweeping generalization and that it failed to cover all heresy.

Then you introduced all kinds of irrelevancies and claimed I was in error, which seemed to mean that I was wrong to say that there could ever have been any heresy, according to Christian definition, which lacked teaching as part of it.

I continued to assert that such heresy could and did occur, since being a crypto-Jew amounted to heresy in and of itself alone, and you continued to say that I was in error, without, however, any indication of what was the supposed "error". Everything I said was in fact true.

yba
You talked about the Catholic definition of heresy but what you meant was the practice of the Inquisition in Castille Spain's women as found in Professor Melammed's book.

Hanalah
Among other instances of the Inquisition's treatment of crypto-Jews, yes. Professor Melammed is one of many scholars who specialize in the topic of crypto-Jews, and all acknowledge it as having been regarded by the Inquisition as heresy.

All I said was that the heresy of being a crypto-Jew was indeed PART of the definition of heresy, and that it was the typical accusation against those who WERE crypto-Jews, as well as occasionally against other New Christians who had become sincere Catholics.

I did not attempt to define heresy. I merely pointed out that your definition failed to include the common experience of crypto-Jews in Spain and Portugal. Rather than the word "crypto-Jews," I may have used the word "Jews," so as to indicate that I did not mean ALL heretics, but only JEWISH Christians, whose heresy consisted in remaining Jews after having been (often forcibly) baptized.
I.e., I was correcting YOUR defining heresy in a sweeping generalization which you now say you did not intend.

Thus, if my supposed "error" was that I supposedly "defined" heresy, you are mistaken. I did not attempt to define heresy. I merely tried to broaden your over-general definition, which excluded all instances of the crypto-Jewish heresy. The fact that they were regarded as heretics is suggested by the fact that, after being tortured to extract information about other supposed crypto-Jews, they were generally sent to the stake. Those who professed to have repented were "mercifully" strangled before being burnt.

yba
You talked about the Catholic definition of heresy but what you meant was the practice of the Inquisition in Castille Spain's women as found in Professor Melammed's book. You were discussing a very particularly defined study and generalizing it to the Inquisition as a whole.

Hanalah
Again, I did not define heresy or the Inquisition but simply noted that "teaching" failed to include ALL heresy. Indeed, it included few, if any, of the cases involving suspected crypto-Jews.
If my "error" was in saying that this was indeed a common occurrence when New Christians were accused of the heresy of being crypto-Jews, I am not in error, nor does Melammed document anomalous situations. This was the situation typically feared by crypto-Jews, and this was why they kept all of their Jewish observance a secret.

Interestingly, Melammed notes that the accused crypto-Jews were more often women, since the crypto-Jews could hardly risk praying in a synagogue. Instead, their faithfulness to Torah necessarily became an entirely home-based observance, and thus fell under the aegis of the housewife.

Of course, those New Christians who were not crypto-Jews experienced such accusations less often--but if they had enemies, they could be falsely accused. Even faithful Catholics, if they had New Christian blood, were subject to being accused of the crypto-Jewish heresy. Once one family member was accused, the entire household was suspected, and all other households related to them, and, unless they could demonstrate personal enmity on the part of their accuser, the entire extended family could go to the stake.

Non-teaching heresy could and did exist in the eyes of the church and of the Inquisition. In fact, whether your studies include this fact or not, it was standard practice to indict accused crypto-Jews for heresy, simply for BEING crypto-Jews.

But most crypto-Jews were never caught, and gradually forgot how to conduct Jewish worship. They were so infected with Catholic thinking and speech patterns that they even SAID that they were "saved" by the Torah, as quoted by Cecil Roth in his "History of the Marranos".

"New Christians," for those who are unfamiliar with the term, indicates either a converted Jew, or a person who has a converted Jew as an ancestor.

There were two periods when many Jews converted. One was during the convert-or-die riots of the 1390s, and one was, of course, in 1492, when the Jews had to convert or be exiled. Of course the exiles had to leave without any possessions, and without being able to sell their possessions. A significant proportion of the Spanish Jews were unwilling to be exiled I assume you know that, although your last paragraph, asserting that Melammed's findings were exceptional, make me wonder how much you do know about the situation of the New Christians in Spain after the 1390s.

The reason the Jews were expelled from Spain was supposedly (and it is always difficult to know people's true motives) because the conversos maintained contact with the loyal Jews and were encouraged and enabled in their attempts to keep kosher, to observe Shabbos, to observe Pesach, and whatever. The idea was supposedly that if the Jewish Jews left (or converted), it would become impossible for the New Christians to continue maintaining Jewish practice (after all, they could not attend synagogue, and the shochets would be gone or converted!) and so they would settle into Christian living.

However, it didn't work out that way. Huge hostility remained towards the New Christians, who were never fully accepted into the Christian community. I have seen documentaries of New Christians who still today complain of being shunned by "Old Christians" and who are still CALLED "New Christians" today, hundreds of years later. This attitude on the part of their fellow-Christians has made it impossible for them to abandon their Jewish identity, even after they had forgotten most of it.

In a town in Spain, a Jew was looking for crypto-Jews, and no one was willing to admit being such. Finally the visitor tried saying the Shma. Someone sent for an aged woman. She listened to him say the Shma, and she recognized the third word, which is the Hebrew word for "LRD," and she acknowledged him on the strength of that one word. The whole community knows itself to be Jewish, but their fear of discovery has made it impossible for them to know anything else...except for one old woman who knows the Hebrew word for "LRD" when she hears it.

Judaizing was heresy in the Catholic Church, even in the early church when it was done by Christians. When done by Jewish converts, it was of course taken as evidence that the conversion was insincere and that the supposed convert has reverted to his former worship. And, in fact, that was what had happened--the convert was indeed faithful to his former worship and had no desire to be a Christian. That's why Dr. Melammed uses the term "daughters of Israel" in her title--because in their own view, they are not erring Christians, but faithful daughters of Israel. I never spoke of ALL heretics--only of the fact that the heresy committed by crypto-Jews differs from the claim that heresy is DEFINED as TEACHING, which is unnecessary for those accused of the crypto-Jewish heresy.

A man from the Valley (along the Mexico/Texas border) spoke in Galveston at a conference of the Texas Jewish Historical Society a number of years ago. He said everyone in his family was "allergic" to pork. He related how his mother would fiddle with her beads and mumble her prayers so as to avoid what she felt would have been the sin of idolatrously ACTUALLY participating in the Catholic church service. His grandfather took him out into the field when he was thirteen and announced the family secret to him.

His grandfather said: We are Jews. Don't tell.

The boy was horrified. He had learned from the other boys to despise and hate Jews, and now he WAS one? He didn't know what to do.

What he finally did, said the man whom the boy had now become, was to avoid ALL worship. He said to us, "It is too late for me. I don't want to be a Jew. And I don't want to be a Catholic either, knowing who I am and how they treated us." He was speaking of more than the Inquisition, of course, which has ceased operating in Spain a decade or two after the beginning of the 20th century. He was speaking of the other boys, and the other adults. He no longer wanted to make common cause with such people.
The conference was attended by interested Jews from all over Texas. I live elsewhere than in Galveston.
It is often said that the first Jews in the United States came to New Amsterdam from the Portuguese colony of Brazil. What few know is that, long before that contingent reached New Amsterdam, crypto-Jews lived not only in Brazil but in what later was called Texas. The first Jews in what later became the United States were the crypto-Jews along the Rio Grande and in northern New Mexico. Alas, even those were hunted down and discovered by the Inquisition, but some managed to keep their identities secret and their descendants live in New Mexico and Texas to this day.

Some of the Portuguese crypto-Jews settled halfway across the Atlantic, in the Azores, but they did not enter America until late in the 19th century. Pages of them are found in the phone book of an old whaling town, but most of them no longer know their origins. Some are loyal Catholics. Some hate the church. Some did know their origins but did not admit it, even to their children; I do not know if the secret has died out among them.

I believe I already mentioned the woman in New Mexico who kept her flatware in separate kitchen drawers.

All this was done secretly by New Christians (as they continue to be called) because they knew the consequences if it were revealed as crypto-Jews.

The situation of New Christians was unique, and may have applied to no one else, but it cannot be called anomalous since it applied across the board to all crypto-Jews (called Marranos, swine). The Bay of Pigs in Cuba is actually the bay of "los Marranos," so called for the crypto-Jews who mistakenly thought they might find refuge there, rather than for the animal. Any New Christian who was accused of Judaizing (of practicing any Torah observances) was relaxed to the Inquisition, and his only defense was if he could show that his accuser had a grudge against him and thus was lying about him out of personal enmity. Otherwise he continued to be tortured until he implicated others, and in any case he went to the stake.

I did not address the purpose of the Inquisition. I merely described the standard situation when New Christians were accused of the heresy of being crypto-Jews, i.e., of upholding any Torah practice. The Inquisition had a long and detailed list of such Torah practices, including the changing of linens on Fridays, or the concern to bleed the steer thoroughly in slaughtering it, or the salting of the meat before cooking it, or the tendency to broil the meat rather than stew it (also in order to get rid of the blood).

I suppose that the purpose of the torture was to extract the names of other crypto-Jews, and the purpose of the autos da fe would have been to stop New Christians from observing any Torah practice, by killing off those whom they caught, and thereby also discouraging those who witnessed the autos da fe.

Oh, and of course, having experienced the tortures of hell during their deaths, they could avoid actually being sent to hell after they died. I do not know whether they were presumed to go to purgatory, or whether they were permitted to enter directly into Heaven, from the Catholic point of view. Perhaps you could enlighten me on that.

However, from the Jewish point of view, I would hope they would surely have gone directly to Gan Eden (Paradise), in spite of having committed the sin of getting baptized and participating in non-Jewish worship. I would hope that being burnt alive would suffice, in Jewish eyes, to pay for all sin. I am not citing any source for this, however; it merely seems only just, since they apparently tried, as crypto-Jews, to be faithful to Torah. Witness the avoidance of actually SAYING the Latin prayers, but only mumble nonsense syllables.

There were not very many who died in autos da fe--far fewer than those Jews who died in massacres in Germany and in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, and the merest droplet in the bucket (not even a drop) compared to the Holocaust. Over all the hundreds of years the Inquisition was in effect in Spain and Portugal, there were far fewer than, say, ten thousand total sent to the stake for Judaizing, all of whom, of course, were New Christians, mostly Crypto-Jews and most of them in the first 200 years after the 1390s. (I have read the actual number but remember only that they were surprisingly few compared to, say, say, those who were tortured and murdered in the Chmielniki massacres.)

Yes, a few were released. They had to watch their step very carefully, since they, personally, remained under suspicion for as long as they lived.

It was far from anomalous, but rather was USUAL, when New Christians were accused of heresy, for the named heresy to be that of being crypto-Jews. Specifically, they were normally accused of the heresy of upholding one or another Jewish practice, such as avoiding pork, rather than of teaching something.

I have said nothing of those who were NOT crypto-Jews, although occasionally it seems to have happened that a New Christian who was a sincere Catholic could be falsely accused, by a personal enemy, of avoiding pork or of some other Jewish practice, and of these, some were unable to demonstrate enmity on the part of their accusers, and so were burnt at the stake despite being "innocent" of being crypto-Jews.

Most of what I have said above is offered from memory of the speeches I have heard, the crypto-Jews I have interviewed, and the books I have read about the history of the crypto-Jews.

If anyone is interested I can re-read some of the books in the crypto-Jewish section of my bookcase, and provide more details. The information about the Inquisition's treatment of crypto-Jews as heretics is far from being a personal anomalous quirk of Professor Melammed. All informants cite it as typical of the experience of crypto-Jews throughout all territories controlled by Spain and Portugal.

However, I will NOT copy page after page of Inquisitorial documents. Anyone who is interested in that level of detail is free to obtain the books I have named above, through the local library, via inter-library loan.

I barely finished this in time to bentsh licht.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2012 1:35:40 PM PST
Linda Sang says:
I just now read this post for the first time, and thought I'd let you know that this one is definitely a keeper! I'm fascinated by crypto-Jews and always have been.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2012 9:24:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 5, 2012 9:25:36 PM PST
jaime says:
I think a lot of us are. It's always heartwarming when one of them finds us and comes home to us.
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