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Jewish Connections in New Mexico

Program Number: 19545RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/18/2014 - 5/23/2014; 11/2/2014 - 11/7/2014;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Price starting at: $945.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Jewish Studies Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Discover the rich Jewish heritage of New Mexico and add your own influence to the cultural imprint made by the crypto-Jews as they arrived in the Southwest after fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, and by the Ashkenazi Jews who brought commerce from the East Coast to New Mexico, quickly turning Las Vegas and Santa Fe into thriving metropolitan centers. Learn the sequence of events that led to Solomon Bibo becoming the only non-Indian ever to serve as governor of a Native American pueblo, and trace the increasingly active role New Mexico Jews played in state and national politics. On field trips and in presentations led by local experts, recap the story of the crypto-Jews and gain a better understanding of their connections to other Judaic groups, and study the history of the Ashkenazi Jews and their contributions to New Mexico and Southwest history.


• Learn how Jewish-German immigrants helped develop the atomic bomb at Los Alamos.
• Explore how Jews interacted with members of Eastern religions who settled in New Mexico and built mosques and other worship sites here in the area.
• Meet with a local artist to discuss the use of Jewish and Crypto-Jewish themes in her work and learn about the traditions of Kabbalah from a rabbi and author.

Activity Particulars

Walking/standing up to an hour; boarding and disembarking coaches. Elevations of 5,300-7,200 feet.

For a more in depth study of just New Mexico’s conversos and Crypto-Jews from the Spanish Inquisition in the 1500's to present day ancestors, please see program #11007.

Date Specific Information

5-18-2014, 11-2-2014

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

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Albuquerque, 3 nights; coach to Santa Fe, 2 nights, coach to Albuquerque for departure.

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.

Convenient, comfortable hotels in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

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.
Diana Bryer

Diana Bryer paints the people and rich history of Northern New Mexico from her studio in the Española Valley. Moving to northern New Mexico in 1977, she found her place in a traditional rural community where customs reflect the centuries-old life of the Spanish settlements in the region. One aspect that continues to intrigue her are the people of Jewish descent whose ancestors fled the Spanish Inquisition to settle in the area and who retain elements of Judaism in their religion today.
Marcus Gottschalk

Marcus Charles Gottschalk is an expert on the history of Las Vegas, N.M. Relatively unknown to most, Las Vegas was the Southwest’s most important commercial center for nearly 30 years in the late 19th century. Gottschalk, a multi-color renovation painter of historic buildings, stumbled across this gap in America’s past and has since been researching and writing about the city’s amazing legacy since 1996. Gottschalk has been a resident of New Mexico for more than 20 years.
Shawn Price

Shawn Price is a member of the Albuquerque Conservative Synagogue Congregation B'nai Israel, and has been an active member of B'nai since his conversion to Judaism in 1999. As an enrolled tribal member of the Navajo Nation, Shawn is also the director for a traditional Navajo dance group that has performed around the country. He holds a B.A in communication from the University of New Mexico, and is active in his Navajo cultural and spiritual traditions, which are strongly enhanced by Judaism.
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 Hotel
  Albuquerque 3 nights
   Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza
  Santa Fe, New Mexico 2 nights
 MCM Elegante Hotel
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: best seasonal rate Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: This charming hotel is located three blocks from the historic downtown Plaza and is surrounded by Santa Fe restaurants and shops with convenient transportation nearby. 100% non-smoking facility.
  Contact info: 100 Sandoval Street
Santa Fe, NM 87507 USA
phone: 505-988-2811
  Room amenities: Southwest motif, Hilton Serenity Bed and Amenity Collections, coffee and tea service, ironing boards, robes, hair dryer and makeup mirror
  Facility amenities: Business Center, Complimentary printing service, fax, express mail, notary public, office rental, photo copying service, video conferencing available, video messaging, video phone, 24-hour Pavilion Pantry Market, laundry-valet service, ATM, baggage storage, bar area, concierge desk, elevators, gift shop, guest activity/recreation desk, lounge, multi-lingual staff, room service, fitness room, pool
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: best seasonal rates Request additional nights directly from hotel prior to arrival by calling 505-988-2811.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check into hotel between 3:00 and 5:30 PM on first day of program; register with group leader between 4:00 and 5:30 PM in designated area at the hotel. You will be staying at MCM Elegante Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after lunch on final day of program (around 1:00 PM). You will be staying at Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. None required
  Parking availability:
Parking is free at the hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Albuquerque
  Nearest highway: I-25 and I-40
  Nearest airport:  Albuquerque International Sunport
  From End of Program
  Location: Albuquerque
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



From Airport




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


After picking up your luggage, call the hotel at 884-2511 from the courtesy phones in the baggage claim area.




To Airport




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 airport. They can let you know what time the shuttle will depart in order for you to catch your flight.




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 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: Elevations will range from 5,300' to 7,200' above sea level.

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 & Check-in; Registration & Orientation; Introductions & Getting to Know You
(Sunday, May 18)
 Afternoon: Hotel check-in between 3:00-5:30 PM.

Registration with the Road Scholar group leader between 4:00-5:30 PM.

 Dinner: We'll have dinner at the hotel from 6:00-7:00 PM. Enjoy this opportunity to begin getting acquainted with our fellow participants.
 Evening: We’ll gather in our meeting room from 7:00-8:30 PM for an informative overview of the program to come plus an opportunity to meet the program staff and our fellow participants during an introductory get-acquainted session. We’ll review the updated schedule, answer any questions, and cover responsibilities, safety guidelines, and emergency procedures.

This new program extends the study begun in our popular program 11007, “New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto Jews.” We’ll explore connections formed by Conversos with Native Americans — also forced into Catholicism by the Spaniards — and later with Ashkenazic Jews who came to the state when the railroads opened New Mexico in the 1800s. We’ll also examine connections between the Penitentes who came to the state around 1630, other Eastern religions, and early settlers. Field trips feature sites with special significance for the development of Jewish history in New Mexico.

Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Crypto-Jewish History in New Mexico; Indian Pueblo Cultural Center; Old Town Albuquerque; Conversos in the Larger New Mexico Community
(Monday, May 19)

Note: Walking and standing at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and in Old Town

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel from 7:00-8:00 AM
 Morning: This morning we'll have classes on "Crypto-Jewish History in New Mexico" and "Conversos in the Larger New Mexico Community."

We'll learn how Jews came to New Mexico in the 1500s. Fleeing the Inquisition in Europe, they hid their religious beliefs under the guise of Catholicism, brought by the Spaniards and Mexicans as they conquered the Native Americans in Pueblos of the Southwest.

 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel
 Afternoon: This afternoon, we'll have a driving excursion through Albuquerque, with stops at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Old Town.

Old Town was established in 1706. When “late” arriving Ashkenazic Jews opened shops there, it was the center of the community for many years.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is owned and operated as a non-profit organization by the 19 pueblos of New Mexico, where we’ll begin an exploration of Native American culture and its ties to the Converso-Crypto Jews. About a mile northeast of Old Town, this museum — modeled after Pueblo Bonito, a spectacular 9th-century ruin in Chaco Culture National Historic Park — has some remarkable exhibits. The bus will return to the hotel at approximately 5:30 PM.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
 Evening: PRESENTATION: "Native American Culture and Its Ties to the Jewish Community"
Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Rabbi Min Kantrowitz and Ashkenazim History; New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum; Local Synagogue
(Tuesday, May 20)

Note: Some walking and standing at site visits on field trip

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: PRESENTATION: "History of Ashkenazim in New Mexico" and "Current Situations of Jews in New Mexico" discussion with Rabbi Min Kantrowitz, Director of the Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico. She is a sought after speaker and teacher, conducting services, workshops, and lectures in Europe, California, Montana, Arizona, and across New Mexico. Rabbi Kantrowitz is also the author of the recently published book, “Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide,” designed to help people understand the in-depth meaning of each of the forty-nine days between Pesach (Passover) and the Shavuot celebration of the revealing of the Torah.
 Lunch: Lunch at a popular restaurant
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: We begin our afternoon at the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum. This unique institution educates people about the Holocaust as well other genocides that have affected people around the world, unlimited by religion, culture, geographic area, or time. For example, exhibitions cover events related to Native Americans including Bosque del Redondo and Wounded Knee.

We’ll also visit a synagogue before returning to the hotel.

The bus will return to the hotel at approximately 4:00 PM.

After getting back to the hotel, there will be a presentation and discussion about the many connections other religious groups in New Mexico have with New Mexico Jews. These groups include Christians; people affiliated with Eastern religions; the Penitentes, a secret society that came to New Mexico around 1630, who carried scourges made of leather thongs with which they lashed themselves, begging God to forgive their sins; and others. There are many kinds of "crossovers" from Jewish to Christian and vice versa. You'll see how the Jews fit into the big picture of New Mexico history, primarily with early settlers and then on into the present.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
 Evening: Evening at leisure. Enjoy the hotel’s amenities, explore Albuquerque's nightlife, or simply relax and prepare for tomorrow's early check-out and bus transfer to Las Vegas, NM and Santa Fe, NM.
Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Las Vegas NM & Historic Jewish Sites; Class: Ashkenazic Settlers in Las Vegas; Staab House Dinner
(Wednesday, May 21)

Note: Some standing and walking over uneven terrain at the Masonic Cemetery

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel. We need to check out and have our luggage out to the bus no later than 8:00 AM so that we can depart on time.
 Morning: Bus departs for Las Vegas, NM (two hours from Albuquerque) at 8:15 AM.

In Las Vegas, a local guide will join us to point out many of the interesting Jewish-related sites in Las Vegas — developed in large part by Ashkenazim who came to the town via the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in the 1800s.

We will see the current home of the first Jewish house of worship in the Territory of New Mexico, Temple Montefiore, dedicated in 1884; the Masonic Cemetery, where many Jews were buried; and businesses established by these early Jews. For the most part, none of the Ashkenazim knew anything at all about the Jewish history that had gone on in New Mexico since the 1500s.

 Lunch: Lunch at a selected location
 Afternoon: PRESENTATION: A Las Vegas historian will discuss the Ashkenazic Jewish population of the city in the 1800s and early 1900s, their contributions, and their influence.

Bus departs for Santa Fe at 3:00 PM.

Hotel check-in at about 4:30 PM.

 Dinner: Bus departs for dinner destination at 5:45 PM.

Dinner will be in the Staab House restaurant on the grounds of the historic La Posada Hotel, a luxury resort set on six acres of beautifully landscaped grounds near downtown Santa Fe. The Staab House, a Victorian mansion, was built by a Santa Fe Jewish merchant. We'll hear the interesting story of the life of this Jewish family when they lived in this house (and the ghost they left behind!)

The restaurant itself is cozy and casual; there will be several menu choices including dessert.

 Evening: Bus returns to the hotel by 8:00 PM. Rest of the evening at leisure.
Accommodations: Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Jewish and Hispanic Writers; Artist's Presentation; Field Trip to Explore Sites Related to Jewish Community in Santa Fe; Free Afternoon; Evening Performance
(Thursday, May 22)

Note: Walking several blocks up to a mile on paved terrain

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: PRESENTATION: We’ll gather in a hotel meeting room where our instructor will discuss Jewish and Hispanic writers in New Mexico. We'll then meet local artist Diana Bryer, who uses Jewish and Crypto-Jewish themes in her work.

After class, there will be a walking field trip to visit sites related to the history of the Jewish community in the Santa Fe area.

 Lunch: Lunch today is on our own. There are many good restaurants near the Plaza; our group leader can offer suggestions.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure for independent explorations. We'll have tickets to the New Mexico History Museum, the Palace of the Governors Museum, and the New Mexico Museum of Art, all in the downtown area.

In addition to these museums, there are numerous art galleries, other museums, shops, and significant landmarks in the area.

The hotel is close to the Plaza area, and those who wish can return to the hotel at any time, but everyone needs to be back at the hotel in time for dinner.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 5:30-6:30 PM
 Evening: PERFORMANCE: At 6:45 PM, our bus will depart for a special performance, staged especially for our group, of Robert Benjamin's contemporary play, "Parted Waters." Set in New Mexico, the play brings to life three generations of Hispanics dealing with the knowledge and secrets of their lineage.
Accommodations: Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Return to Albuquerque; Wrap-up Discussion; Klezmer Performance; Program Conclusion
(Friday, May 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Hotel check-out by 8:15 AM. Depart for Albuquerque at 8:30 AM, arriving at the MCM by 10:00 AM. Luggage may be stored at the front desk.

WRAP-UP: We’ll gather in our meeting room in the hotel for a program wrap-up from 10:00-11:30 AM, with an opportunity to share our impressions and how the experience may have changed our perspectives.

PERFORMANCE: For a rousing finale, we'll enjoy a performance by a Klezmer band, followed by program closing with our group leader.

 Lunch: The program concludes with lunch at the hotel from 11:30 AM-12:00 PM, followed by independent departures.
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

109 East Palace Avenue: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos

Author: Conant, Jennet

A Dictionary of New Mexico and Southern Colorado Spanish

Author: Cobos, Ruben

A History of the Jews in New Mexico

Author: Tobias, Henry

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

Author: Keyserling, Meyer

Death Comes for the Archbishop

Author: Cather, Willa

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

Author: Reston, James Jr.

Hidden Heritage: The Legacy of the Crypto-Jews

Author: Jacobs, Janet Liebman

Jewish Albuquerque 1860-1960

Author: Sandweiss, Naomi.

Jews Among the Indians

Author: Marks, M.L.

Jews in New Mexico Since World War II

Author: Tobias, Henry

Jews in Places You Never Thought Of

Author: Primack, Karen (ed.)

Juggling Identities: Identity and Authenticity Among the Crypto-Jews

Author: Kunin, Seth D.

Los Alamos: The Growth of an Atomic Community

Author: Jon Hunner

My Penitente Land

Author: Chavez, Fray Angelico

Pioneer Jews: A New Life in the Far West

Author: Rochlin, Harriet and Fred

Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Secret Jews

Author: Gitlitz, David M.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Author: Rhoads, Richard

The House at Otowi Bridge

Author: Church, Peggy Pond

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

Author: Alexy, Trudi

The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot

Author: Alexy, Trudi

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

Author: Hordes, Stanley M.

When Los Alamos Was a ranch School: Historical Profile

Author: Fermor Church and Peggy Pond Church

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