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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 Jordi Gendra-Molina
Jordi Gendra-Molina View biography
Rabbi Jordan Gendra-Molina was born in Barcelona, Spain. He pursued rabbinic studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia, and was ordained by RRC in June 2006. While a student at RRC, Rabbi Jordi dedicated many hours to helping other students with Talmud (Jewish law), Hebrew, Aramaic, and history. He holds a PhD in medieval Jewish history from Universitat de Girona in Spain and a master’s in Semitic languages, with a specialization in Hebrew and Aramaic from the Universitat de Barcelona.
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.
Pioneer Jews: A New Life in the Far West
by Rochlin, Harriet and Fred
Sephardim in the Americas
by Cohen, Martin and Peck, Abraham J.
Pueblo Nations: Eight Centuries of Pueblo Indian History
by Joe Sando
An expansive history of the Indian Pueblos of New Mexico from a Native American perspective. The book explores the origins of the tribe to its current struggles to maintain sovereignty, land and water rights.
A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism
by Goldstein, Phyllis
New Mexico's Crypto-Jews: Image and Memory
by Soltes, Ori Z. (Introduction), Carl 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 Spanish Inquisition
by Cecil Roth
This documents the events leading up to the Inquisition, the torment that spread from Spain to Portugal and the New World -- a fascinating exploration of the roots of the Inquisition and its effects on the country.
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, A History
by Joseph P. Sanchez
This cooperative effort between three native New Mexicans is the first complete history of New Mexico. It charts the state’s development from 16th-century Spanish colony to frontier province, from its 1912 American statehood to a hub of (often classified) scientific research. A vital source for anyone seeking to understand the complex history of the West.
The Marrano Legacy: A Contemporary Crypto-Jewish Priest Reveals Secrets of his Double Life
by Alexy, Trudi
The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot
by Alexy, Trudi
Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors
by Reston, James Jr.
The Story of the Jews, Finding the Words 1000 BC-1492 AD
by Simon Schama
A marvelously readable, far-reaching chronicle of three thousand years of Jewish history.
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.
Sephardim
by Diaz-Mas, Paloma
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 3 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Albuquerque, NM
D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to applicable requirements and guidelines throughout the program. Transportation for program-related activities will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel meeting room.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
NM History, Holocaust Memorial, History of Sephardic Judaism
Albuquerque, NM
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles, approximately 1/2 hour riding time each way. Walking a few blocks over the course of the day; standing up to 30 minutes hours at the Memorial.

Breakfast: In the hotel meeting room.

Morning: We’ll join a local expert for a presentation on the history of Albuquerque and New Mexico. We’ll then ride to Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza where we’ll see the Holocaust Memorial with commentary by our Group Leader. Designed by renowned artist Jake Lovato, the memorial serves as a permanent reminder of the grim realities of the Holocaust and a commemoration of its victims.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After returning to the hotel, our expert instructor will introduce the fascinating history of conversos and crypto-Jews, dating back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition that began its “investigations” in 1480. In 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain signed what is known as the Alhambra Decree ordering Jewish residents in Spanish domains to convert or leave on pain of death. Many fled and some reached the New World.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: We’ll continue learning about crypto-Jewish history with a lecture on the Columbus question. Given the confusion about his life before the voyages, is it possible he was a converso?

DAY
3
Crypto-Jews in NM, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Synagogue
Albuquerque, NM
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles over the course of the day, approximately 1 hour total riding time. Walking 1 mile, standing up to 1 hour at a time.

Breakfast: In the hotel meeting room.

Morning: This morning, another expert instructor will join us to discuss the history and legacy of Crypto-Jews in New Mexico. We’ll then board our motorcoach and depart for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC). Operated by the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico, the IPCC is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Pueblo culture, highlighting the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people. During our self-directed exploration, we will get an overview of New Mexico’s many different Pueblos as we view the Pueblo-curated exhibits on the lower level.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll board the motorcoach for a short drive, then set out on a walking field trip with our Group Leader in the plaza and surrounding area of Albuquerque’s aptly named Old Town, the focal point of community life since 1706. About 10 blocks of historical adobe buildings surround the central plaza, including San Felipe de Neri Church that dates back to 1793. The city’s settlers built their homes, shops, and government offices here; many of these historical structures have been converted into the restaurants, art galleries, and shops that we see today. From there, we’ll visit a local synagogue, known for its distinctive architecture, and hear from the rabbi about contemporary Jewish life in New Mexico.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Converso & Crypto-Jewish Heritage, Hispanic Cultural Center
Albuquerque, NM
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking up to 1 mile, standing approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: In the hotel meeting room.

Morning: We’ll begin the day with another expert-led lecture expanding our knowledge of the lives of conversos and crypto-Jews. We’ll then ride to the National Hispanic Cultural Center, where we’ll learn more about the area’s Hispanic history and culture. Dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts and humanities, the National Hispanic Cultural Center celebrates Hispanic traditions through a variety of exhibits including a performance center, art museum, and a library. The permanent collection features Frederico Vigil’s “buon fresco” Mundos de Mestizaje depicting thousands of years of Hispanic and pre-Hispanic history, and ¡Aqui Estamos!, a rotating exhibition of art from the Center’s permanent collection.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will visit the Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico where we will have an expert-led exploration of this important site. Founded in 2001 by Holocaust survivor Werner Gellert, the Holocaust and Intolerance Museum’s mission is “to combat hate and intolerance through education.” Although many of the museum’s exhibits focus on the European Holocaust and World War II genocides, there are also exhibits documenting the Armenian, Greek, and Native American genocides. We will return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Returning to the hotel, we’ll hear from a presenter who will discuss her converso/crypto-Jewish heritage and discovery of her own personal history.

Dinner: In the hotel meeting room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
All-Day Field Trip to Santa Fe
Albuquerque, NM
B,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 135 miles, approximately 2.5 hours riding time over the course of the day; walking and standing at the museums; extent and duration of independent exploration according to personal choice.

Breakfast: In the hotel meeting room.

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and travel to Santa Fe where we'll head out on foot to explore Santa Fe's Plaza area, the historic heart of the city. We'll visit the impressive Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the Palace of the Governors, and other sites as time permits. Then, we'll have some free time for independent exploration and lunch.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will meet the motorcoach at a designated place and take a short ride to Museum Hill where we’ll explore the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture features pottery, jewelry, sculpture, baskets, and other objects made by Native Americans from the earliest times to modern day, scrupulously documented and beautifully displayed. The Museum of International Folk Art focuses on indigenous populations from around the world through their art – ranging from ceremonial dress and masks to furniture. The museum hosts the largest collection of international folk art in the world, including wings featuring some of the 106,000 pieces donated by collectors Alexander and Susan Girard and Lloyd Cotsen's Neutrogena collection. We will return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Our group will enjoy a final dinner together in our hotel meeting room. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We’ll gather for a wrap-up session to review the program and what we’ve experienced together. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Albuquerque, NM
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: In the hotel meeting room. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
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