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New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews

Program Number: 11007RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/26/2014 - 10/31/2014; 5/10/2015 - 5/15/2015; 5/24/2015 - 5/29/2015; 8/30/2015 - 9/4/2015; 9/27/2015 - 10/2/2015; 10/18/2015 - 10/23/2015; 10/25/2015 - 10/30/2015; 11/1/2015 - 11/6/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Price starting at: $949.00 - 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 docent-led visit to Federico Vigil’s spectacular murals, detailing the journey of the conversos and Crypto-Jews.

Activity Particulars

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

Date Specific Information

10-26-2014, 5-10-2015, 5-24-2015, 8-30-2015, 9-27-2015, 10-18-2015, 10-25-2015

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


Acoma Pueblo sometimes closes during the winter months due to private ceremonies. In the event that the Pueblo is closed, another activity or field trip will be substituted.
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, spa 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.
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."
Daniel Diaz-Huerta

Daniel Díaz-Huerta is an educator, author, lecturer and arbitration advocate who is fluent in five languages. He is a member of Congregation Nahalat Shalom and the executive director of the newly founded Albuquerque-based New Mexico Center for Crypto-Judaic Studies and Culture. The author of several poetry tomes, Daniel utilizes converso and Crypto-Jewish themes throughout his writings. He holds multiple degrees in business, Spanish literature and Latin American Studies.
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:
Hotel check-in available after 3:00 PM on Day 1. Registration with program's group leader between 4:00 and 5:30 PM. You will be staying at MCM Elegante that night.
  End of Program:
Program concludes with lunch on Day 6. Hotel check-out is 12:00 noon. 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: 505-884-2511


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: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Free shuttle
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 


Call the hotel at 884-2511 after arriving and picking up your luggaget to let them know that you need to be picked up for transport to the hotel. There are courtesy phones in the baggage claim area.




To Train Station




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel shuttle is free
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




5 miles


It is a good idea to let the hotel's front desk staff know the evening before your departure that you'll need a shuttle to the Amtrak train station. They can let you know what time the shuttle will depart in order for you to catch your train.




From Train Station




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel shuttle is free
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




5 miles


Call the hotel upon your arrival at the Amtrak Station and they'll send a shuttle to pick you up. You may also take a taxi to the hotel if you wish. Taxi fares may be shared.

Driving Directions
  From Albuquerque International Sunport 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 MCM ELEGANTE 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 MCM ELEGANTE 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 MCM ELEGANTE 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, October 26)
 Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00 PM.

Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, to get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule and other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session.

If you arrive late, please ask for your packet at the front desk when you check in.

 Dinner: At the hotel in our reserved section of the dining room, enjoy an extensive buffet with complimentary soft drinks, coffee, tea from 6:00 - 7:00 PM.
 Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have.

Indicated times are approximate; program activities and schedules may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration.

Take the rest of the evening to continue getting to know your fellow participants, relax, and get a good night’s sleep for the full day ahead.
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: A History of Sephardic Judaism from Spain to New Mexico / Albuquerque City Exploration
(Monday, October 27)

Note: Getting on and off bus with no lift; standing for up to two hours at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel, including eggs and omelets cooked to order, a variety of cereals, biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, Danish and muffins.
 Morning: This morning our expert instructor will introduce us to the fascinating story of New Mexico's rich heritage of Jewish culture, which extends from the time of the Spanish Inquisition.
 Lunch: Buffet lunch at the hotel
 Afternoon: After lunch we'll board our motor coach and depart for an excursion through Albuquerque on our way to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. We'll travel along part of old Route 66 and make a stop at the Holocaust Memorial.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Pueblo culture and advancing understanding by presenting with dignity and respect, the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people of New Mexico.

We'll return to the hotel after viewing the exhibits at the IPCC.

 Dinner: At the hotel
 Evening: We'll continue learning about Converso and Crypto-Jewish history with a lecture about "The Columbus Question."
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Meet a Converso / Field Trip to Acoma Pueblo
(Tuesday, October 28)

Note: Getting on and off bus (no lift); walking for as long as 2 hours at a time over uneven and rough packed dirt terrain at Acoma Pueblo.

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: This morning we'll "Meet a Converso" and hear about our instructor's Converso/Crypto background.
 Lunch: At the hotel
 Afternoon: After lunch, we'll board our coach and depart for Acoma Pueblo, one of the oldest pueblos in the state. Located approximately 65 miles from Albuquerque, Acoma is often referred to as "Sky City."

The oldest part of the pueblo was built on top of a 400-foot-high 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.

We'll have an opportunity to explore the Cultural Center, and go to the top of the mesa where we'll explore the old part of the pueblo with a Native American guide. We'll learn about the pueblo's connection to Jewish history, see the adobe dwellings and an old Spanish church, and meet some of the inhabitants of this remarkable historic place.

 Dinner: At the hotel
 Evening: Evening at leisure or optional video, "The Milagro Beanfield War"
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Stories from the Lives of Conversos and Crypto-Jews / Video: "Expulsion and Memory" / Field Trips to National Hispanic Cultural Center and Old Town / Dinner on Your Own / Free Evening
(Wednesday, October 29)

Note: Getting on and off bus (no lift); standing for up to an hour at National Hispanic Cultural Center; walking up to several blocks over paved terrain in Old Town.

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: Expert-led lecture, "Stories from the Lives of Conversos and Crypto-Jews," followed by the video "Expulsion and Memory."
 Lunch: At a selected restaurant
 Afternoon: After lunch, we'll pay a visit to the art museum at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Located along the bank of the Rio Grande, the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities. Since the grand opening in 2000, it has staged over 50 art exhibitions and 500 programs in the visual, performing, and literary arts, and provides venues for visitors to learn about Hispanic culture throughout the world. We'll visit the museum's exhibitions and the Torreón Fresco, the largest concave fresco in the world, depicting over 3,000 years of Hispanic history.

We'll then go to Albuquerque's historic Old Town. Old Town has been the focal point of community life since Albuquerque was founded in 1706. About ten blocks of historic adobe buildings surround the central plaza, including San Felipe de Neri Church, which was built in 1793 and is the oldest building in the city. The city's settlers built their homes, shops and government offices here; many of these have been converted into the restaurants, art galleries and shops that comprise Old Town today.

Our coach will return to the hotel from Old Town. Those who wish may remain in Old Town for dinner, but will need to arrange for their own transportation back to the hotel.

 Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to sample the local cuisine. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions to restaurants both downtown and near the hotel.
 Evening: Free evening
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Field Trips to Chimayó and Santa Fe / Rancho de Chimayó Restaurant / Sweet Tomatoes Restaurant
(Thursday, October 30)

Note: Getting on and off bus (no lift); walking several blocks in Chimayó and from several blocks to a mile in Santa Fe over paved and unpaved terrain .

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: This morning we'll depart for a day-long field trip to Chimayó and Santa Fe.

We'll first go to Chimayó. This Hispanic village has changed very little over the last two hundred years. On arrival, we'll visit Santuario de Chimayó, famous for the reputed healing powers of its "holy dirt." The Santuario also displays some remarkable folk art, from its beautiful retablos, stations of the cross, and bultos (statues of the saints). This little sanctuary is a testament to the historical significance of religion in small Hispanic communities and to the simple faith of many northern New Mexicans today.

We'll also visit the shop of a local weaver, where we'll see some examples of the beautiful weavings that families in Chimayó have been producing for generations.
 Lunch: At historic Rancho de Chimayó, a charming restaurant housed in an old hacienda.

Chimayó is known for its heirloom chiles; most New Mexican dishes are served with red or green chile. (New Mexico's official state question is "Red or green?") If you'd like to try both, order "Christmas!"

Our group will have a plated meal, ordering from a special menu featuring traditional New Mexican cuisine, with chips, salsa, and a non-alcoholic beverage.

 Afternoon: After lunch, we'll depart for Santa Fe, where there will be free time to explore the plaza. There are many colorful shops and galleries in the area, as well as a number of museums. You'll have museum passes for admission to the state museums (Palace of the Governors, the New Mexico History Museum, and the New Mexico Museum of Art) adjacent to the plaza.

The Palace of the Governors and New Mexico Museum of history feature historic documents and exhibits relating to the settlement of New Mexico and Santa Fe. The New Mexico Museum of Art offers changing exhibits by famous past and present artists of New Mexico and the Southwest.

Other nearby museums of interest include the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, dedicated to the work of this extraordinary artist, the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, and the Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women in the Arts.

Late afternoon: Meet our coach at a designated location and depart for Albuquerque.

 Dinner: Sweet Tomatoes restaurant in Albuquerque. 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 - or as little - as you like.
 Evening: Return to the hotel for evening at leisure
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Hidden Jews Around the World / Hotel Check-Out / Departure
(Friday, October 31)
 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: Our final lecture of the program discusses more contemporary views of how the Jewish culture has influenced, and continues to influence, northern New Mexico.

If you are departing from the hotel, please check out no later than 12:00 PM.
 Lunch: Early lunch at the hotel. This concludes our program.

We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!
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 Heritage: 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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