CONTRIBUTED BY SCJS
Registration is open for the SCJS annual conference, “Place and Identity: Redefining the Crypto-Judaic Experience in the Western Hemisphere” to be held June 30—July 2 at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton, 7801 East Orchard Road, in southeast Denver.
Panels will feature independent researchers, writers, historians, genealogists, authors, and descendants of Iberian Jews. This year marks the inauguration of the Stanley M. Hordes Distinguished Scholar Lecture, recipient Dr.David Gitlitz, an honor bestowed upon a scholar whose contribution to advancing the field of crypto-Judaic studies has been exemplary.
SCJS welcomes keynote speaker, former Life magazine journalist Jeff Wheelwright, who, in 2008, wrote the pivotal article for the Smithsonian Magazine, “Secret of the San Luis Valley,” followed by his book, “The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess.” His work focused on the discovery of the BRCA gene found in women in southwestern Colorado, exploring the ancestry of this secluded community.
Following a genealogy workshop on Sunday, a cocktail reception will feature the talents of Lorenzo Trujillo and the Southwest Musicians. The opening dinner honors special guest Jose Luis Parrado, Consul of Spain for Colorado, among others. Sunday night’s prize-winning play, “Conviction,” stars Ami Dayan, a master dramatist from Boulder in a compelling story about a Spanish priest and the questions of faith, love and persecution. Monday’s midday Martin-Sosin Address for Advancement in Crypto-Judaic Arts features a multi-artist, original presentation with composer David Wohl dedicated to the Iberian expulsion. Monday night, enjoy The Lost Tribe performing Sephardi, Mizrachi and Ladino music.
The conference concludes Tuesday afternoon. Registration includes four meals, the reception, snacks and all events. Kosher meals and day rates available. Hotel group rates extended prior to and after the conference duration. For more information and to register, go to cryptojews.com or write to scjsconference.Denver@gmail.com.
With thanks to the Sosin-Petit Foundation, the Mizel Museum, Museo de Las Americas, and Theater Or of Denver, as well as Gaon Books and Film, and Temple Aaron, Trinidad for their support.
The SCJS is a secular and academic group founded in 1991 dedicated to the research of the historical and contemporary development of crypto-Jews of Iberian origin. Anyone is invited to attend the conference, whether a member of SCJS or not.
“Crypto” or “ hidden Jews” are those who maintained a secret adherence to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith. This term especially applies to Spanish Jews in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries who outwardly professed Catholicism in order to survive persecution during and following the Spanish Inquisition in the Old World and the new. Various narratives tell about the survival of “crypto-Jewish” practices and traditions in the greater Southwest and many families from New Mexico and Colorado are now seeking their roots in these areas. Some refer to themselves as Sephardim or Sefardita, also as Sephardic, or anusim, children of the forced ones.
This remarkable story of Jewish heritage secretly passed down through the centuries in Spanish Catholic countries is a verified part of Mexican and New Mexican ancestry. Church and military records and DNA studies suggest that one-in-four of all Spanish colonialists in New Spain were of Jewish descent. Their descendants today number in the millions; Colorado/New Mexico estimate easily boasts 500,000.
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