Wayward New Christians and Stubborn New Jews: The Shaping of a Jewish Identity

  • Yosef Kaplan


Jewish Identity 
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  1. 1.
    Many studies of the western Sephardic diaspora have been published in the past few years. See the recent anthology edited by R. Barnett and W. Schwab,The Sephardi Heritage, vol. 2 (Grandon, Northants, 1989), which contains surveys of the concentrations of Sephardic Jews in Western Europe and the New World. Surveys in this field were also published in H. Beinart,Moreshet Sepharad. The Sephardic Legacy vol. 2 (Jerusalem, 1992).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The testimony of Esteban de Ares Fonseca was published in J. Caro Baroja,Los Judíos en la España Moderna y Contemporánea, vol. 3, 2d ed. (Madrid, 1978), 359–64. The archives of the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal contain much testimony by former New Christians who returned to Judaism and after failing to be absorbed by the Jewish community, they returned to the Iberian peninsula and sought to atone for the sin of Judaising. See, for example, C. Roth, “The Strange Case of Hector Mendes Bravo,”Hebrew Union College Annual (HUCA) 18 (1943/44): 221–45.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    These events took place in 1625–26, a period for which we lack the registers of two of the three Sephardic congregations of Amsterdam. The register of the unifying organization established by the three congregations in 1622 was not maintained with the attention to detail characteristic of the register of the united community, which was founded in 1639. On the use of excommunication in this community at that time, see Y. Kaplan, “The Social Functions of the ‘Herem’ in the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam in the Seventeenth Century,”Dutch Jewish History, ed. J. Michman (Jerusalem, 1984): 111–55.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ibid., 118.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    On the ideological ferment among the Sephardic diaspora in general and in the Portuguese community of Amsterdam in particular, see I.S. Révah, “Spinoza et les hérétiques de la communauté Judeo-portugaise d'Amsterdam,”Revue de l'histoire des religions 154 (1958): 173–218; Révah,Spinoza et le Dr. Juan de Prado (Paris - The Hague, 1959); Révah, “Les Marranes,”Revue des Etudes Juives 188 (1959/69): 29–72; cf. Y. Kaplan,From Christianity to Judaism. The Story of Isaac Orobio de Castro (Oxford, 1989), 110–78; Kaplan, “The Portuguese Community of Amsterdam in the Seventeenth Century. Between Tradition and Change,” inSociety and Community, ed. A. Haim (Jerusalem, 1991), 145 ff.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Y. Kaplan, “The Portuguese Community,” 146.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Y. Kaplan,From Christianity to Judaism, 326 ff.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    On the concept, “the Lands of Idolatry” in relation to the Catholic countries where Jewish habitation was forbidden (particularly Spain and Portugal), and on travel to those countries despite the community ordinance prohibiting it, see Y. Kaplan, “The Travels of Portuguese Jews from Amsterdam to the ‘Lands of Idolatry,’” inJews and Conversos, ed. Y. Kaplan (Jerusalem, 1985), 197 ff.; Kaplan, “Eighteenth Century Rulings by the Rabbinical Court of Amsterdam's Community and their Socio-Historical Significance,”Studies on the History of Dutch Jewry 5 (1988): 28–30 (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Y. Kaplan, “The Portuguese Community,” 148–53.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    See in the archives of the Spanish and Portuguese community in Amsterdam,Livro de Ascamot of the Beth Israel congregation, no. 10, 60.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    G. Nahon has written a series of articles about the crypto-Jews in France during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in particular on those of Bayonne. See G. Nahon, “The Sephardim of France,” in R. Barnett and W. Schwab, eds.,The Sephardi Heritage, vol. 2: 46 ff. On the relations between the Amsterdam community and these crypto-Jews see Nahon, “Les rapports des communautés judeo-portugaises de la France avec celle d'Amsterdam au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècles,”Proceedings of the Sixth World Congress of Jewish Studies 2 (Jerusalem, 1975), 72–84; an expanded version was published inStudia Rosenthaliana 10 (1976), 37–78, 151–88. On the correspondence between Rabbi D'Aguilar and the crypto-Jews of Bayonne, see Y. Kaplan, “The Role of Rabbi Moshe d'Aguilar in his Contacts with the Refugees from Spain and Portugal in the XVIIth Century,”Proceedings of the Sixth World Congress of Jewish Studies 2: 95 ff. (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    On the part played by France in the trade routes of the western Sephardic diaspora, see J. I. Israel, “The Sephardi Contribution to the Economic Life and Colonization of Europe and the New World (16th-18th centuries),”Moreshet Sepharad. The Sephardi Legacy (Jerusalem, 1992), 380.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Y. Kaplan, “The Travels of Portuguese Jews from Amsterdam,” 209, 214, 221, n. 86.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See Ms Ets Haim - Montezinos 48A (The National and University Library, Jerusalem), fols. 213v.–225r;Resposta e discurso sobre certas perguntas de Bayona e foy em nome dos Hahamim. On this MS see L. Fuks and R.G. Fuks-Mansfeld,Hebrew and Judaic Manuscripts in Amsterdam Public Collections, vol. 2 (Leiden, 1975), no. 176, 84 ff.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Resposta e discurso. Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    Many important studies have been written about the early days of the London community, and here I shall merely mention a selection: L. Wolf, “Crypto-Jews under the Commonwealth,”Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society in England (TJHSE) 1 (1893/1894): 55–88; Wolf, “The Jewry of the Restoration 1660–1664,”TJHSE 5 (1908): 5–33; W. S. Samuel, “The First London Synagogue of the Re-Settlement,”TJHSE 10 (1924): 1–147; L. D. Barnett, BevisMarks Records 1 (Oxford, 1940); A. M. Hyamson,The Sephardim of England (London, 1951), 1–73; E. R. Samuel, “The First Fifty Years,”Three Centuries of Anglo-Jewish History, ed. V. D. Lipman (Cambridge, 1961), 27–44; A. S. Diamond, “The Community of the Resettlement, 1656–1684. A Social History,”TJHSE 24 (1974): 134–50; H. Beinart, “The Jews in the Canary Islands: A Re-evaluation,”TJHSE 25 (1977): 48–86.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    I. Tishby, “New Information on the ‘Converso’ Community in London According to the Letter of Sasportas from 1664/1665,” inExile and Diaspora. Studies in the History of the Jewish People Presented to Professor Haim Beinart on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday, eds. A. Mirsky et al. (Jerusalem, 1988), 470–96 (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    See L. Wolf, “Crypto-Jews under the Commonwealth” (above, n. 18); Wolf, “The First English Jew,”TJHSE 2 (1984/95): 14–46.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    On the Robles Affair and the events which took place after it, see L.D. Barnett,Bevis Marks Records 1: 3 ff.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Y. Kaplan, “The Jewish Profile of the Spanish-Portuguese Community of London during the Seventeenth Century,”Judaism 41 (May 1992): 229–40.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    I. Tishby, “New Information” (above, n. 19), 479 ff.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    SeeEl Libro de los Acuerdos, being the Records and Accompts of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of London from 1663 to 1681, trans. L. D. Barnett (Oxford, 1931), 23.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Ibid., 40.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    See in the archives of the Sephardic community of London,Livro do Mahamad (MS. 103), fol. 38v.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    A.S. Diamond, “The Cemetery of the Resettlement,”TJHSE 19 (1960): 163–90.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    See L.D. Barnett,Bevis Marks Records 1: 16–20, where the list is published in its entirety, and see pp. 19–20, the list of “Portuguese who are not circumcised.”Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    See the two aforementioned articles by A. Diamond (above nn. 18, 27).Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    On 8 Tevet, 5439 (1678), a special ordinance was passed regarding this phenomenon, and its wording indicates that another with the same intent had previously been instituted. SeeLivro do Mahamad, fol. 6r.Google Scholar
  29. 30.
    Ibid., fol. 16r.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
  31. 32.
    Ibid., fol. 129v. And see also vol. 2 (MS 104), fols. 4a, 16a, 30b.Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    Ibid., vol. 2 (MS 104), fols. 32a-b.Google Scholar
  33. 34.
    Many instances of this problem can be found in I. S. and S. A. Emmanuel,History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles 1–2 (Cincinnati, 1970).Google Scholar
  34. 35.
    Livro do Mahamad 2 (MS 104), fol. 36b.Google Scholar
  35. 36.
    See B. Spinoza,A Theologico-Political Treatise in The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza, translated from Latin, with an Introduction by R. H. M. Elwes (New York, 1951), 55–56.Google Scholar
  36. 37.
    K. T. Erikson,Wayward Puritans. A Study in the Sociology of Deviance (New York, 1966), 21.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Haifa University Press 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yosef Kaplan
    • 1
  1. 1.The Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael

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