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New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews

Program Number: 11007RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/17/2013 - 3/22/2013; 2/14/2016 - 2/19/2016; 3/6/2016 - 3/11/2016; 3/13/2016 - 3/18/2016; 4/3/2016 - 4/8/2016; 5/8/2016 - 5/13/2016; 5/22/2016 - 5/27/2016; 6/12/2016 - 6/17/2016; 9/4/2016 - 9/9/2016; 9/11/2016 - 9/16/2016; 10/23/2016 - 10/28/2016; 11/6/2016 - 11/11/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Price starting at: $889.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Jewish Studies Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

In 1492, the Alhambra Decree forced Spain’s Jewish citizens to make an unthinkable decision: convert to Christianity or leave the country. Over the next 500 years, the saga of the conversos and Crypto-Jews — who practiced their faith in secrecy — brought them to the New World, and finally to New Mexico, where their traditions melded with those of the peoples of the Southwest. In this land of canyons and desert, trace the struggle of New Mexico’s conversos and Crypto-Jews, and consider how their traditions have managed to survive against the odds.


• Meet a New Mexico converso for personal insight.
• Experience local landmarks with Jewish connections, including the Holocaust Memorial and Acoma Pueblo.
• At the National Hispanic Cultural Center, enjoy a visit to Federico Vigil’s spectacular murals, depicting 3,000 years of Hispanic history from Europe to the New World.

Activity Particulars

Walking a few blocks over uneven terrain; standing up to one hour, some stairs. Elevations of 7,000 feet.

Date Specific Information

3-17-2013, 2-14-2016, 3-6-2016, 3-13-2016, 4-3-2016, 5-8-2016, 5-22-2016, 6-12-2016, 9-4-2016, 9-11-2016, 10-23-2016, 11-6-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


New Mexico's vast history, diversity, creativity, cuisine, beauty and art unite in this vibrant city, founded as a Spanish colonial outpost in 1706 and built in a traditional Spanish village configuration in which civic buildings surround a central plaza. “Old Town” is just one of New Mexico’s largest city’s many gems.

Centrally located hotel, heated pool and exercise room. Free airport or train station shuttle.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Karen Long

Karen Long spent over two decades in a variety of positions in fields such as law and government in locations from Illinois to Indiana to New York, prior to making her way to the beautiful Southwest. Before joining Road Scholar as a group leader, she was the facilities manager and assistant to the President at one of Albuquerque’s largest manufacturing companies.
Norma Libman

Norma Libman is an independent journalist whose byline has appeared in hundreds of articles in newspapers nationwide. She has degrees in education and literature from Northeastern Illinois University, and has taught writing, literature and humanities courses in Illinois and New Mexico. She is the author of “The Memoir Writing Workbook,” and leads workshops at writers’ conferences. Norma has been a presenter in many cities nationwide on the subject of Conversos and Crypto Jews in the southwest.
Min Kantrowitz

Rabbi Min Kantrowitz is director of Shutafim: New Mexico Jewish Community Connections, a project of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. This program provides outreach, training and support to small isolated Jewish communities throughout the state. As a consultant to the Jewish Community Center’s Jewish Care Program, she provides grief support and spiritual care. For the previous nine years, she served as director of the Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico. The Jewish Chaplaincy Program provided spiritual support and pastoral care services to thousands of unaffiliated Jews in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho. She is a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow. Rabbi Kantrowitz received her Rabbinic Ordination in May 2004 from the Academy of Jewish Religion in Los Angeles, and is the author of the internationally acclaimed book, "Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide."
Meals and Lodgings
   MCM Elegante
  Albuquerque, NM 5 nights
 MCM Elegante
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Large hotel with mid-town location and free parking
  Contact info: 2020 Menaul NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107 USA
phone: 505-884-2511
  Room amenities: Data ports, irons, ironing boards, hairdryers, refrigerators upon request
  Facility amenities: Heated pool, spa and exercise room, restaurant and lounge on premises
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Hotel's best seasonal rate. Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Hotel's best seasonal rate. Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
You may check in at the hotel anytime after 3:00 PM. Register with your program group leader from 4:00-5:30 PM. You will be staying at MCM Elegante that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after 12:00 PM at hotel. You will be staying at MCM Elegante the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. None
  Parking availability:
Parking is free at Albuquerque hotel; participants have access to their vehicles throughout the program.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Albuquerque, NM
  Nearest highway: I-25 and I-40
  Nearest airport:  Albuquerque International Sunport
  From End of Program
  Location: Albuquerque, NM
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



To Airport




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel
phone: 505-884-2512


Per Person/One Way:


Free shuttle
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 


Let front desk know day before your departure as to the time you need to be at the airport. They'll let you know what time the shuttle will transport you to the airport or to the Amtrak Station in Albuquerque.




From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel
phone: 505-884-2512


Per Person/One Way:


Free shuttle
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 


Call hotel upon arrival and picking up luggage from the courtesy phone at the baggage claim kiosk that dials directly to the hotel at 884-2511 to let them know that you need to be picked up for transport to the hotel.

Driving Directions
  From Albuquerque International Airport The airport is located on the south end of Albuquerque. Exit the airport west onto Sunport Boulevard, which will take you to Interstate 25. Take the entry ramp onto Interstate 25 and travel north to Exit 225 (Lomas). Continue driving north on the frontage road to Menaul Blvd. where you'll make a right turn. You'll see the hotel on the right-hand side of Menaul, just past the first intersection (at University.)
  From Interstate 25 Interstate 25 runs north and south through the middle of Albuquerque, where it crosses Interstate 40. From the north, take Exit 227 (Comanche, Candelaria, Menaul). Drive south along the frontage road until you reach Menaul (the third major intersection).

Turn left on Menaul. Just after the first major intersection, with University Blvd. You'll see the hotel on the right. From the south, take Exit 225 (Lomas). Continue driving north along the frontage road until you reach Menaul. Turn right on Menaul and, just after the first major intersection (University). You'll see the hotel on the right.

  From Interstate 40 Interstate 40 runs east and west through the middle of Albuquerque. Near the center of town, it crosses Interstate 25. From the east, take Exit 159-D (University Blvd.) to the first light, which is Menaul. Turn right on Menaul and you'll see the hotel on the right, just past the intersection. From the west, take Exit 159-A (University Blvd.). Continue east along the frontage road until you reach University; turn left on University. Take a right at the second light, on Menaul, and you'll see the hotel on the right, just past the intersection.
Elevation Note: Albuquerque is at an altitude of approximately 5,300 ft. Moderate physical activity at all sites.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival/Orientation
(Sunday, March 17)
 Afternoon: Check in at the hotel anytime after 3:00 PM. Register with the program's group leader in hotel meeting room between 4:00 and 5:00 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner at 6:00 PM in the hotel dining area
 Evening: Program orientation and introductions in hotel meeting room from 7:00 PM-8:30 PM
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: A History of Sephardic Judaism from Spain to New Mexico/Albuquerque City Excursion
(Monday, March 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room from 7:00 to 8:00 AM
 Morning: Class in hotel meeting room from 8:30 AM until noon, with appropriate breaks. Instructor will give you background information about Albuquerque and northern New Mexico's rich heritage of Jewish culture, which extends from the time of the Spanish Inquisition. The story is a fascinating one, and is very well documented throughout the area.
 Lunch: Lunch in hotel dining room at noon
 Afternoon: Leave at 1:15 PM for a driving expedition through Albuquerque, including the Holocaust Memorial, Kimo Theatre, Central Avenue/Route 66, downtown Albuquerque, and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel dining room at 6:00 PM
 Evening: Lecture from 7:00-8:00 pm in hotel meeting room: "The Columbus Question"
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Meet a Converso/Visit to Acoma Pueblo
(Tuesday, March 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room from 7:00 to 8:00 AM
 Morning: Class, "Meet a Converso," in the hotel meeting room from 8:30-11:30 AM with frequent breaks.

The instructor has a Converso Jewish background.

There are many exciting areas to explore in New Mexico's rich history, but none is as multi-faceted as that of the Jewish contributions to the culture of the region.

 Lunch: Box lunches provided for field trip to Acoma Pueblo leaving at 11:45 AM
 Afternoon: Visit Acoma Pueblo, one of the oldest pueblos in the state, at approximately 2:00 PM.

Acoma Pueblo, located approximately 85 miles from Albuquerque, is often called "Sky City." The oldest part of the pueblo was built on top of a 400-foot mesa, to protect it from attack. Much as it was several hundred years ago, the pueblo has no electricity and no running water, but its residents vie for chances to live there for a year at a time. There are other pueblo villages at the base of the mesa, where most of the Acoma Indians dwell. You'll have an opportunity to explore the Visitors' Center, and then you'll be bused to the top of the mesa where you'll explore the old part of the pueblo with a Native American guide. You'll see the adobe dwellings, an old Spanish church and meet some of the inhabitants of this remarkable historic place. Bus returns to hotel by 5:30 PM.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 6:00-7:00 PM
 Evening: Video in hotel meeting room: "The Milagro Beanfield War"
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Stories from the Lives of Conversos and Crypto-Jews/"Expulsion and Memory" video/Free afternoon/Dinner on your own/Free evening
(Wednesday, March 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room from 7:00 to 8:00 AM
 Morning: Class, "Stories from the Lives of Conversos and Crypto-Jews," followed by "Expulsion and Memory" video in the hotel meeting room from 8:30 AM to noon, with appropriate breaks.
 Lunch: Leave at 1:15 PM for lunch at selected restaurant
 Afternoon: From 2:30-3:15 PM, visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Art Museum.

Bus will depart at 3:15 PM for Old Town/Albuquerque and a free afternoon.

You can walk around the old village, where the first Spanish families settled in 1706.

In 2006, Albuquerque celebrated its Tricentennial. Old Town represents Albuquerque's history: Spanish, Mexican, and the United States flags are displayed.

Buildings around the plaza and on the side streets are authentic adobes up to 300 years old, many built in the distinctive territorial style.

The church of San Felipe de Neri was used as a parish church for over 200 years.

It's also a shopping center with shops selling goods ranging from fine arts and jewelry to tourist trinkets, and Indians selling their wares on the sidewalk.

You'll enjoy your free afternoon and wish you had lots more time!

Bus returns to hotel at 5:00 PM, or you may choose to stay in the Old Town area for dinner and return to the hotel via taxi.

 Dinner: Dinner on your own
 Evening: Free Evening
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Village of Chimayo/Rancho de Chimayo Restaurant/Santa Fe Plaza and Palace of the Governors/Sweet Tomatoes
(Thursday, March 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room from 7:00 to 8:00 AM
 Morning: Bus leaves hotel at 8:30 AM for a full-day field trip to Chimayo and Santa Fe. We will visit the historic Santuario de Chimayo in the morning. Chimayo and the surrounding area are rife with stories about Crypto Jew settlers, and many of the Hispanic families living there now are well aware of their heritage provided by Jewish ancestors. You'll visit El Santuario de Chimayo, a church visited year-round by pilgrims seeking healing from the holy ground found inside a small room at the back of the church. El Santuario is fondly known as "The Lourdes of Northern New Mexico." It also offers primitive religious art work in the form of bultos (carved wooden statues of the saints), a beautiful retablo (altar piece) over the altar and unique stations of the cross.
 Lunch: Lunch at historic Rancho de Chimayo from 12:00-1:00 PM. The restaurant, located in a large hacienda, has been owned and operated for many years by a family from Chimayo, and is one of the best-known restaurants in the northern New Mexico area. In the warmer months, sit outside in terraced gardens; in the winter, sit in front of pinon-burning fireplaces and view the lovely art work featured throughout the restaurant. It's a dining experience you'll remember for many years to come!
 Afternoon: Bus departs for Santa Fe. You'll have museum passes to visit the Palace of the Governors Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Art, located just off the plaza in Santa Fe. The Palace of the Governors features historic documentation of the settling of the Santa Fe and northern New Mexico area. The New Mexico Museum of Art offers changing exhibits by famous past and present artists of New Mexico and the Southwest. You'll have some free time in downtown Santa Fe. Bus returns to Albuquerque at 5:00 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner at Sweet Tomatoes restaurant at 6:00 PM. Sweet Tomatoes offers a wide variety of items on a salad bar, including soups, breads and dessert options. It's a nice change of pace, allowing you to eat as much as you like.
 Evening: Bus returns to the hotel about 7:30 PM
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Hidden Jews Around the World/Hotel Check-Out/Departure
(Friday, March 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room from 7:00 to 8:00 AM and hotel check-out (check-out time is 12:00 noon).
 Morning: Morning classes from 8:30 AM until 11:00 AM, with appropriate breaks, will offer more contemporary views of how the Jewish culture has influenced, and continues to influence, northern New Mexico. The lecture entitled "Compromised Jewish Communities Around the World" will be presented by instructor Norma Libman.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel at 11:30 and closing comments will conclude this program.
 Afternoon: Independent departures from the MCM Elegante in Albuquerque. Hotel check-out time is no later than 12:00 PM.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot

Author: Alexy, Trudi

A Dictionary of New Mexico and Southern Colorado Spanish

Author: Cobos, Ruben

The Martyr

Author: Cohen, Martin A.

Sephardim in the Americas

Author: Cohen, Martin and Peck, Abraham J.


Author: Diaz-Mas, Paloma

The Jews of Spain

Author: Gerber, Jane S.

Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Secret Jews

Author: Gitlitz, David M.

New Mexico's Crypto-Jews: Image and Memory

Author: Herz, Cary

To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto Jews of New Mexico

Author: Hordes, Stanley M.

Hidden Heritzge: The Legacy of the Crypto-Jews

Author: Jacobs, Janet Liebman

Christopher Columbus and the Participation of the Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese Discoveries

Author: Keyserling, Meyer

Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors

Author: Reston, James Jr.

Sails of hope: The Secret Mission of Christopher Columbus

Author: Wiesenthal, Simon

The Marrano Legacy: A Contemporary Crypto-Jewish Priest Reveals Secrets of his Double Life

Author: Alexy, Trudi

A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism

Author: Goldstein, Phyllis

The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess

Author: Wheelwright, Jeff

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