Jewish Journal

Crypto-Jews who believe in Jesus

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 9, 2008 | 4:45 pm

The Orlando Sentinel published a story today about Aliyah Sefarad International (

no Web site

), an organization reaching out to Latinos who may have had Jewish ancestry. The goal of the program, run by Rabbi Gary Fernandez, is to get descendants of Maranos to reconnect with their ancestral Jewishness and make aliyah to Israel.

“God promised the Negev [southern Israel] to the people of Sepharad [believed to be the name given to the Iberian Peninsula],” said Fernandez, citing a prophecy from the biblical book of Obadiah. “We are working toward making that a reality.”

Fernandez said he went to Israel to discuss his plans with a manager there who told the rabbi he was the first person to ever approach him about relocating Hispanic Jews.

But Fernandez, a native of Puerto Rico who grew up Christian, will first have to overcome a few hurdles. Under the law of return, the Israeli government assists with housing and other needs for those wanting to go back to the land of their ancestors. But to be allowed in, the law requires evidence that at least one grandparent was a practicing Jew. Descending from Jews alone is not enough, Katz said.

The alternative is to convert to Judaism, as many in Fernandez’s group have done. But because they also believe in Jesus, this could complicate matters.

Wow. That final bit is the understatement of the last 2,000 years.

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