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New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews

Program Number: 11007RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/27/2015 - 10/2/2015; 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: $849.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Jewish Studies Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 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

9-27-2015, 2-14-2016, 3-6-2016, 3-13-2016, 4-3-2016, 5-8-2016

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

5-22-2016, 6-12-2016, 9-4-2016, 9-11-2016, 10-23-2016, 11-6-2016

This date includes a special exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of History called “Fractured Faiths, Spanish Judaism, The Inquisition, and New World Identities,” which includes the original Edict of Expulsion. Enjoy an engaging lecture from one of the curators of the exhibit, Dr. Ron Duncan Hart, a world-leader in Judaic Studies.
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.
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."
Christopher Gibson

Christopher Gibson is an award-winning artist, writer and arts educator who makes his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work includes the Cuentos del Camino series on lower Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe and mixed-media installations at numerous museums in New Mexico and California. Over the years he has written several articles on Hispanic Arts and Culture for the magazines Tradición Revista and Imagen.
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 staff 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 checkout 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:
Surface lot at the hotel; parking is free on site. 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



From Airport




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


Per Person/One Way:


Free hotel shuttle
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:


Free hotel shuttle
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.

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 to the MCM ELEGANTE 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 5,300' above sea level; Santa Fe is 7'000 feet.

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: Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
(Sunday, September 27)

Note: All program activities take place at elevations of 5,300 to 7,000 feet above sea level.

 Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00 PM.

Program Registration: Between 4:00 and 5:30 PM, come 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. (While we will make best efforts to accommodate vegetarian, gluten-free, low-fat, and low-salt diets, all of these options may not be available at every meal. Vegan, gluten free for Celiac and kosher options are not available.)
 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.

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: History of Sephardic Judaism, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
(Monday, September 28)

Note: Getting on and off bus with no lift; standing at site visits and museum

 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, dating from the time of the Spanish Inquisition.
 Lunch: At a selected restaurant
 Afternoon: After lunch we'll enjoy a self-guided visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. This beautiful, unique center preserves and perpetuates Pueblo culture and advances understanding of the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people of New Mexico. We'll see the tribally-curated exhibits that present Pueblo legacy through art and oral histories of the Native Americans of the region.

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

Day 3: Meet a Converso, Acoma Pueblo, Klezmer Performance
(Tuesday, September 29)

Note: Getting on and off bus (no lift); standing and walking for as long as 2 hours over uneven and rough packed dirt terrain

 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 motorcoach and depart for Acoma Pueblo.

The oldest part of the pueblo was built on top of a 367-foot-high mesa to protect it from attack. The old 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 go to the top of the mesa where we'll explore the old village. We'll learn about the pueblo's connection to Jewish history in the area, 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: Enjoy a klezmer performance by "Schlomo and the Adobes"
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Conversos and Crypto-Jews, Hispanic Cultural Cntr., Old Town
(Wednesday, September 30)

Note: Getting on and off bus (no lift); standing at museum; walking several blocks over paved terrain at 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 the hotel
 Afternoon: After lunch we'll board our motorcoach and travel to the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

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 dates back to 1793. 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 motorcoach will return to the hotel from Old Town in late afternoon. Those who wish may remain in the Old Town area 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: Chimayó, Santa Fe, Program Closing
(Thursday, October 1)

Note: Getting on and off bus (no lift); walking from several blocks up to a mile over paved and unpaved terrain with some inclines

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: This morning we'll depart for the northern New Mexico village of Chimayó.

While in Chimayó , we'll visit a weaving gallery, Centinela Traditional Arts. Chimayó is home to several families who have been creating Hispanic weavings for generations, and we'll have a chance to see some beautiful works designed and woven by an award-winning artist.

We'll also visit a beautiful little Roman Catholic church, El Santuario de Chimayó. This shrine, a National Historic Landmark, is famous for the story of its founding and as a contemporary pilgrimage site. It receives almost 300,000 visitors per year and has been called "the most important center in the United States for Catholic pilgrimage." A small side room houses el pocito (the little well), which is the source of the "blessed earth" (tierra bendita) that is believed to have healing powers. An adjacent Prayer Room displays many ex-votos as well as photographs, discarded crutches, and other testimonials of those purportedly healed.

We depart for downtown Santa Fe after visiting the Santuario.

 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to sample the local cuisine in Santa Fe. Santa Fe is known as a food-lover's paradise, and there are a number of fine restaurants at a variety of price points within walking distance of the Plaza.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore the Santa Fe Plaza area on your own.

There are many colorful shops and galleries in the area, as well as a number of museums. You'll have a "Culture Pass" that will provide 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 and sites of interest include the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, dedicated to the work of this extraordinary artist, the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, the state capitol building, which houses an impressive collection of art, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asisi.

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

 Dinner: At the hotel
 Evening: Program closing
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Optional Video
(Friday, October 2)
 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: Optional video: "The Milagro Beanfield War"

If you are departing from the hotel, please check out no later than 12:00 PM.

 Lunch: Early make-your-own sandwich 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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