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The Anusim Center of El Paso is a non-profit cultural center dedicated to the Anusim/Crypto Jews of the Southwest. During the Spanish Inquisition and the subsequent expulsion of the Jews from Spain, many Jews fled to Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Italy, North Africa, Europe, Arab countries…, and even Mexico.
The word “Anusim” (most properly
translated as the “coerced ones”, or the “forced ones”), is used to describe the Jews who were forced to abandon Judaism against their will, typically while be being forced to convert to Catholicism.
Here in the American Southwest, Mexico, and South/Central America, there is a rich history of these Anusim, commonly referred to as “Crypto-Jews.” The Crypto-Jews were Jews who secretly practiced and adhered to Judaism while publicly professing to be of the Catholic faith out of fear for their lives if they were discovered as being Jews. Many of today’s descendants of these Anusim have Jewish roots/ancestors they are unaware of. Their family members may practice and follow customs/rituals that are of Jewish origin, but they are unaware of the origin of these customs. Currently, there is a phenomenon occurring and many of these descendants are discovering their Jewish history and want to learn more, and many are converting to Judaism, “returning” to and reclaiming what was taken away from their ancestors.
The Anusim Center of El Paso is a place for anyone to come and question, explore, learn, and get support/information regarding the Anusim and the Crypto-Jews. Whether one has recently discovered he/she may have a Jewish past or whether one just wants to learn about the Jewish influence in Mexican culture, the Anusim Center of El Paso is open to all.