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New Mexico

New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews

Program No. 11007RJ
Learn the history and experience the unique culture of conversos and Crypto-Jews — Spain’s Jewish citizens who were forced to leave their country for not converting to Christianity.
Length
6 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,449

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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
1,449
Apr 16 - Apr 21, 2023
Starting at
1,449
May 7 - May 12, 2023
Starting at
1,449
May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
1,449
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,449
Oct 22 - Oct 27, 2023
Starting at
1,449
Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
1,449
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
1,669
Apr 16 - Apr 21, 2023
Starting at
1,669
May 7 - May 12, 2023
Starting at
1,669
May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
1,669
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,669
Oct 22 - Oct 27, 2023
Starting at
1,669
Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
1,669

At a Glance

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.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking a few blocks over uneven terrain; standing up to one hour, some stairs. Elevation of 5,300 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Meet New Mexico conversos for personal insight.
  • Visit Santa Fe and Museum Hill.
  • Enjoy field trips to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less. For a more active version of this program, please see "New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews in Santa Fe" (#22854). It includes similar and complementary educational content, but is based in Santa Fe.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Min Kantrowitz
Rabbi Min Kantrowitz is a Rabbis Without Borders fellow based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She directed the New Mexico Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program for 12 years, serving unaffiliated Jews throughout the state through pastoral care and spiritual counseling. She currently teaches privately in a variety of venues. A 2004 graduate of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, a transdenominational Jewish seminary, she is the author of "Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide."

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Min Kantrowitz
Min Kantrowitz View biography
Rabbi Min Kantrowitz is a Rabbis Without Borders fellow based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She directed the New Mexico Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program for 12 years, serving unaffiliated Jews throughout the state through pastoral care and spiritual counseling. She currently teaches privately in a variety of venues. A 2004 graduate of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, a transdenominational Jewish seminary, she is the author of "Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide."
Profile Image of Christopher Gibson
Christopher Gibson View biography
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."
Profile Image of Maria Apodaca
Maria Apodaca View biography
Maria Apodaca’s family arrived in what is today's New Mexico in 1598. She is a descendant of the B'nai Anusim, Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism in the 15th century. Maria is a member of Congregation Albert; a founder and board member of the Sephardic Heritage Institute New Mexico; a board member, Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies; and a board member, Jewish Genealogical Society of New Mexico.
Profile Image of Schelly Dardashti (DNA Lecture)
Schelly Dardashti (DNA Lecture) View biography
Schelly Talalay Dardashti, a native New Yorker, has lived in Teheran, Tel Aviv, New Mexico. She is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage, and has traced her Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrahi families across Iran, Spain, Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. An early proponent of DNA for genealogy, she created the award-winning "Tracing the Tribe - Jewish Genealogy on Facebook." She is a Board member of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies; founding member, Sephardic Heritage Institute New Mexico; and President, Jewish Genealogical Society of New Mexico.
Profile Image of Sherry Moon
Sherry Moon View biography
Sherry Moon is a certified interpreter for the profession of heritage interpretation and an experienced group leader. She has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications and has taught communication and art. For nearly 20 years, she has been a group leader specializing in the Southwest and Alaska/Yukon. As president of the Rocky Mountain Guides Association, she is regarded as a local expert. Her interests include the arts, history, heritage, geology, reading, outdoor activities, and socializing with friends.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Sephardic Jews of Spain and Portugal: Survival of an Imperiled Culture in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century
by Dolores Sloan
This work traces the history of the Sephardic Jews from their golden age to their post-Columbian diaspora. Several significant Sephardic Jews are profiled in detail, and later chapters explore the increasing restrictions on Jews prior to expulsion, the divergent fates of two diaspora communities (in Brazil and the Ottoman Empire), and the enduring legacy of Sephardic history.
Crypto-Jews: The Long Journey
by Ron Duncan Hart
The crypto-Jewish experience has been shrouded in mystery for a past that might have been and the imagined future that could be. In the American Southwest and in parts of Latin America there is a movement to reclaim Jewish identity, and people are describing remnants of Jewish life in their families even though their ancestors renounced Jewishness long ago. People want to learn about the Sepharad of their ancestors, the Spain of the Jews. Many ask, "What is our place in that heritage." Others simply say, "Somos Judios." We are Jews.
Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Secret Jews
by Gitlitz, David M.
To the End of the Earth
by Hordes, Stanley M.
After encountering New Mexicans who abstained from eating pork and lit candles on Friday night, Hordes realized these practices were passed down from the early crypto-Jewish settlers. He follows the legacy of the crypto-Jews from their origins in medieval Spain and Portugal through their settlement in New Spain and current reemergence of their culture and practices within the Hispano community.
New Mexico's Crypto-Jews: Image and Memory
by Soltes, Ori Z. (Introduction), Cary Herz (Photographer)
A photographic tribute to the New Mexican descendants of the Crypto-Jews, a subsect of Europeans who were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition. Though publically they were Catholic, the Crypto-Jews continued to privately practice their Jewish faiths. Black-and-white photos are supplemented with essays.
The Jews of Spain
by Jane S. Gerber
A straightforward, readable history of Jewish life in Spain. The book covers life in Spain up to the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, and continues with chapters on the Sephardic diaspora.





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