Restoring Sephardic Anusim Identity
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT...
--This the heart and soul of who we are and why we do what we do as an outreach--
[Extracted from the Addendum of the book, “Out from Hiding—Evidences of Sephardic Roots among Latinos,” by Dell F. Sanchez, January 2010 – Minor editing included.]
"What I must say here is extremely delicate and thus appeal to the reader to please hear me out by the virtues of heart and soul.
There is no difference between a people that suffered at the hand of their perpetrators one year ago as opposed to one decade ago. Pain and suffering was present in both cases. The presence of such trauma did not go away–it remains there as a memorial.
A people that suffered in Hitler’s Holocaust 50 years ago is no less and no more than the people that suffered in the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago. Hitler’s fiery ovens were no more and no less than the burnings at the stake of the Inquisitions. The confiscation of goods and property were the same in both cases. The raping of women and girls and even young boys were the same. The kidnappings of their children were no different–a kidnapped child is the same whether it was 50 years ago or 500 years ago. The collective unconscious in both cases is quite similar if not the same. The outcry of the human soul is the same. Each victim suffered individually, one at a time and more than deserve that justice be served, both individually and corporately.
Hitler used Ghettos and Spain used Barrios to hold the Jews under siege. Hitler enforced their wearing a Star of David to distinguish them from all others. Spain used the San Benito which was the vesture filled with insane emblems such as snakes and flames to demonstrate who was of a Jewish heritage.
It is nothing short of a miracle we have children of the Holocaust survivors today. It is just as much a miracle, and more so, that we have survivors of the Inquisitions that besieged Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Cuba and most Latin American nations including the Southwestern States of the United States of America.
I wish to God that someone would build a museum of all the atrocities caused upon the Jews of Spain–the Sephardim, the Anusim. There is a major museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem. In fact, there are more than 20 large and small museums in foreign countries and at least two others in Israel. In our nation there are approximately 25 such museums, the largest one being in Washington, DC. But they have little if any information about the sufferings of our Sephardic Anusim forefathers or the Spanish Inquisition with its tentacles in Iberia and throughout Latin America, and in New Mexico.
I happen to have a dear colleague that deals with the Holocaust survivors in Israel. I personally know a couple of Jewish individuals who are children of Holocaust survivors. I’m glad to report that despite their parent’s traumas, they have managed to grow up and make something very special of themselves. But as a mental health professional, I do not need a Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass to detect the effects of their parent’s trauma.
On the other hand, I happen to know hundreds and thousands of descendants of the survivors of one or more Inquisitions but their stories are not known. In many cases, they are seen with suspicion and cynicism when they tell a small portion of their forefathers’ plight. I am however glad to report that the extended Jewish family is slowly coming around to believe their reports as they become knowledgeable of what actually took place in their histories. But something of a miraculous dimension needs to take place in the halls of the Israeli government in order that these Sephardic Anusim souls be reckoned with in a just and merciful manner.
I am not advocating that any system become gullible to believe anything without proper evidence or due process. But I am declaring that it is high-time that new case law be written along with new policies and procedures that can best deal with such cases. After all, God has given us an amazing tool that is called the brain in order to accurately process intelligence in a wise and prudent manner. But this is going to demand a major amount of change. This means that those that are in positions of power and influence will need to get out of their presumptive boxes in order to hear, see and perceive what is taking place all across the Americas including Iberia and other foreign nations where there are yet Anusim Jews in virtual hiding.
It is time for the secular as well as the religious Jews to come together in order to create new pathways that begin to open up, perhaps, small gateways for bona fide cases of American Anusim. It is time that Israeli politics and religious extremism be put aside for a while until this issue of the awakening of the sleeping giant of Anusim is compatibly dealt with.
In closing, I am convinced we need each other. Sephardic Anusim needs to reconnect with the people as well as the land of their Jewish forefathers. But on the other hand, I’m convinced that Israel needs to stretch out her arms to embrace their “orphaned brothers” and sisters as they cry out for a little help. Frankly, I shall go out on the limb to declare something very dear to my own heart: Israel needs Anusim of the Americas more than the Anusim needs Israel because the Anusim are prospering in their Diaspora.
Most all of the Sephardic Anusim in America that I know, that are longing to make Aliyah are quite resourceful, industrious, loyal and committed Zionists. They may not know half as much about the rudiments and the thousands of years of the Jewish experience. They may not even know what terms such as Halacha means neither by definition nor by religious expression, but one thing I do know–they are very teachable. They are pliable and changeable.
The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion stated that if anyone wants to be a Jew, let him. I am sure he wasn’t referring to “come one, come all.” But I am convinced, after studying his memoirs in the Ben Gurion Heritage Institute in the Negev one summer, I discovered that Ben Gurion knew Israel would need my people, the American Anusim for times such as now. I have read many of his speeches and public statements and I happen to know that Ben Gurion was a strong believer in the Prophets of the Bible, the Tanakh. His young assistant was once asked by a journalist if Ben Gurion ever sought advice and the young aide said: “Yes, only after he has sought the Prophets.”
I therefore, appeal to the powers that be in Israel and the Jewish leaders around the world to take a cautious look at what the Prophets said about the people I am advocating for. Additionally, I urge every Israeli to take cautious note of the demographics presently existent in Israel. If by the year 2020 a miracle does not take place in the arena of Aliyah or Jewish immigration to Israel, as Prime Minster Netanyahu stated in 2014, “Israel will cease to be a Jewish State” because the Moslem-Arab population will overshadow the Jewish population. For these reasons and many more, may God open up the eyes of our hearts to collaborate together in what is destined to be the greatest immigration miracle in the life of Erez Israel."
Our Long-Term Goal is to build a community in the Negev for American Anusim that’s compatible to their culture and lifestyle.
Our Vision is Obadiah’s prophecy: The exiles of Jerusalem that are (were) in Sepharad (which is Spain) shall occupy the Negev, (verse 20b).
Our Mission Statement is to restore Sephardic Anusim to its true history and to collaborate in fulfilling ancient prophecies regarding their Negev homeland.
Since that day in the spring of 1996, I have been on a never ending journey. My journey includes millions of people just like me that are Hispanic or Latino but happen to be the descendants of secret Jews of Spain. Our forefathers endured a very bloody history as well as an expulsion out of the very land our own ancestors founded during the times of King David and King Solomon."
1961 - Dr. Sanchez was told by his wife-to-be that she had Jewish roots on her mother’s side. He didn’t believe her because he had no knowledge of the descendants of Jews of Spain known as Sephardim or Sephardic Anusim.
1996 -Dr. Sanchez discovered that he had Jewish roots on both, his father’s as well as his mother’s side.
2000 - In an effort to help educate the Anusim in the Americas about their Jewish history, Dr. Sanchez founded the Aliyah Sephardic Center in the State of Texas as a non-profit organization.
2001 -After leading several groups to the Negev, Dr. Sanchez began to establish long lasting ties with government officials in the Negev in order to pave the way for the return of the Anusim to the Land of Israel.
2003 - Dr. Sanchez and his wife, Helen, devoted an entire month in the Ben Gurion Heritage Institute in the Negev, investigating David Ben Gurion’s perspective on Sephardic Anusim in the Americas.
2004 -During the International Jewish Genealogical Convention in Jerusalem, a recurring theme was: “The phenomenal awakening of Sephardic (Anusim) Jews” around the world.
2011 -Dr. Sanchez experienced a positive affirmation that they were on the perfect track when they witnessed a major ground breaking event entitled: “The worldwide awakening of the descendants of Secret Jews/Anusim” at the Netanya Academic College in Israel.
2014 - Dr. Sanchez had the honor of making a presentation on the history of Sephardic Anusim before the Harvard Club in New York City.
2015 - Dr. Sanchez was again honored to speak at the Anusim Conference of the Netanya Academic College in Israel. The title of his paper was: “Legacy of secrecy among Anusim (Crypto Jews) in America.”