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New Mexico

New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews in Santa Fe

Program No. 22854RJ
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 (4.95)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,549

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climate
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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 23 - Apr 28, 2023
Starting at
1,549
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
1,599
Jun 4 - Jun 9, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Jun 18 - Jun 23, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Oct 15 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Oct 29 - Nov 3, 2023
Starting at
1,549
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 23 - Apr 28, 2023
Starting at
1,869
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
1,939
Jun 4 - Jun 9, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Jun 18 - Jun 23, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
2,289
Oct 15 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
2,109
Oct 29 - Nov 3, 2023
Starting at
1,869

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 conversos and Crypto-Jews who practiced their faith in secrecy traveled to the New World and finally to New Mexico. Here 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
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2 miles a day over uneven terrain; standing up to one hour, some stairs. Elevations of 7,000 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 descendants of New Mexico conversos for personal insight.
  • Travel to Taos via the High Road and learn about its fascinating history.
  • Explore the history of Santa Fe with an expert on New Mexico’s conversos and Crypto-Jews.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less. For a less active version of this program, please see "New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews" (#11007). It includes similar and complementary educational content and is based in Albuquerque.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Vannetta Perry
Dr. Vannetta Perry is a retired educator and lifelong resident of New Mexico who is deeply rooted in the southwest. Her family homesteaded and ranched in Southwestern New Mexico and farmed in West Texas. As an educator, Dr. Perry worked in the university setting, teaching biology and directing science outreach programs. Her love for travel was sparked when she led research studies in developing countries. Since retiring, Dr. Perry has continued to share her love of travel and education as a travel director and leader.

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

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 Ron Hart
Ron Duncan Hart is a cultural anthropologist, writer, editor and translator who has focused his studies on Jewish folklore and Sephardic traditions. He has taught anthropology at universities around the world including Georgia State and the University of the Andes in Bogotá, and has worked in South America with UNICEF and the Ford Foundation. The author of more than a dozen books on religion and social change, Ron has received awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Science Foundation, and Fulbright, among others.
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 Elizabeth Mesh
Elizabeth Mesh View biography
Elizabeth Mesh is an educator, artist and actor with a master’s and license in art therapy. She has led thousands of people at the SITE Santa Fe art museum. She has also been on over 20 film and TV sets in New Mexico. Biking, hiking, blue skies and clean air make New Mexico a place she loves to share. Elizabeth has been teaching traditional and expressive art for two decades and has been featured on the Home and Garden Network Television’s segment “That’s Clever!”
Profile Image of Vannetta Perry
Vannetta Perry View biography
Dr. Vannetta Perry is a retired educator and lifelong resident of New Mexico who is deeply rooted in the southwest. Her family homesteaded and ranched in Southwestern New Mexico and farmed in West Texas. As an educator, Dr. Perry worked in the university setting, teaching biology and directing science outreach programs. Her love for travel was sparked when she led research studies in developing countries. Since retiring, Dr. Perry has continued to share her love of travel and education as a travel director and leader.
Profile Image of Omar Villanueva (Guitarist)
Omar Villanueva (Guitarist) View biography
Omar Villanueva holds a master's degree in classical guitar performance from the University of New Mexico. He is a multifaceted guitarist who performs classical, Spanish and popular music. His repertoire includes renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic and Latin music arrangements for solo guitar. He is also an accomplished and awarded singer of music from Latin America and New Mexico. He has been performing in New Mexico and surrounding states since 2004.
Profile Image of Kris Herbst
Kris Herbst View biography
Kris Herbst is a storyteller and interpretive leader who enjoys exploring and studying the Southwest's cultures and natural history from his home in Santa Fe. He has edited a guide to the Abiquiu region’s geology and has led groups to archaeological sites on a cattle and guest ranch near Salida, Colorado. An experienced journalist, Kris serves as chief editor for Ashoka, a global organization that identifies and supports the world's leading social entrepreneurs. Kris received his Master's degree in city and regional planning from Harvard.
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.
Profile Image of Ellen Morris Bond
Ellen Morris Bond View biography
Ellen Morris Bond has spent most of her adult years in northern New Mexico, graduating from the University of New Mexico Honors Program. She completed a Master’s Degree in Community Development at University of California-Davis. As a non-profit director, Ellen forged strong collaborations with local and regional organizations such as health councils, community foundations, tribal groups, hospitals, public schools, rural health clinics, and faith groups. She now volunteers with the local acequia/water organization and leads art and architecture groups at La Fonda of Santa Fe.
Profile Image of Sheryl Russell
Sheryl Russell View biography
Sheryl Russell was born to a farming family in Kansas. At the University of Kansas, she studied education in theatre and English literature, followed by decades of work in retail and communications systems in Dallas, New York City, and the California Bay area. Sheryl felt that she had “come home" when she moved to Santa Fe. Here she found a cultural diversity, architectural style, and historic richness that supported the next 30 years of leading explorations and study of native Southwest cultures and their history.
Profile Image of Isabelle Sandoval
Isabelle Sandoval View biography
Isabelle Sandoval is a retired teacher and school administrator with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of New Mexico, a master’s in curriculum from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Wyoming. A poet, speaker, and writer, she has researched family history, genealogy, DNA, and traditions of her New Mexico ancestors. She holds citizenship in Portugal based on her Sephardic origin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Spell of New Mexico
by Tony Hillerman (Editor)
A selection of 12 thoughtful essays on the New Mexico state of mind by great writers, including C.G. Jung, Mary Austin, D.H. Lawrence and Lawrence Clark Powell. Hillerman succeeds in communicating the lure of the desert Southwest in this wonderful, literate introduction to the state.
Guardians of Hidden Traditions
by Isabelle Medina Sandoval
Historical fiction based on women and their families preserving Jewish identity. The traditions of crypto-Jewish New Mexican families reveal centuries of hidden Iberian Jewish customs almost forgotten by isolation, changes of diverse nationality, and time itself.





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