Reflections on Tisha b’Av and the B’nai Anousim

This year, I was educated in advance of Tisha b’Av (the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, which fell yesterday), about a resolution passed last year by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).  The USCJ unanimously passed a resolution stating that the Conservative movement should educate about the B’nai Anousim and the Spanish Inquisiton during Tisha b’Av.  However, this has not yet become a wide-spread practice. As such, I am taking this space to share some links for your education on the matter.

Who are the B’nai Anousim?

http://www.bechollashon.org/projects/anusim/anusim.php

http://www.alizahausman.net/2009/09/spotlight-rabbi-juan-mejia-and-bnai.html

http://jta.org/news/article/2009/05/18/1005189/the-secret-jews-of-the-southwest

http://koltuvsefarad.com/

What do the B’nai Anusim have to do with Tisha b’Av?

http://www.uscj.org/Tisha_BAv_Observance8243.html

http://www.uscj.org/images/bnai_anousim_out_of_fear.pdf

http://www.uscj.org/images/bnai_anousim_tisha_bav_program.pdf

I think that at a time when we look at the historical destruction of the Jewish people, it is imperative to reflect upon the more recent historical destructions.  The fact that the expulsion from Spain occurred also on Tisha b’Av in 1492, only furthers the need for its inclusion in our commemorations.  We need to think about those who were forceably converted and fought to practice their Judaism in secret for hundreds of years.  These individuals did not allow their Judaism to be wiped out  by others, and that is a critical lesson to learn today.  Today their descendants are finding their way back to Judaism and need to be included in Jewish life the way that their ancestors were not.  Please take a moment to educate yourself, and the next time you meet a Jew with a Spanish last name take a moment to listen to their story – you never know what you may learn.

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2 thoughts on “Reflections on Tisha b’Av and the B’nai Anousim

  1. Dear Melissa,
    Thank you very much. We worked really hard to get this material together and I am glad some congregations used it. I am glad and available to answer any questions on Bnai Anusim.

    Leshalom,

    R Juan Mejia

  2. Melissa – thanks! I am part of a community FULL of B’nai Anousim, as well as folks who don’t even know that their ancestors were Jews (or who know but who are so thoroughly Catholic now that they’re not going back, ever). It’s an interesting change from the way I grew up (Ashkenazi-centric as well as eastern European-centric) and I LOVE IT!

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