By Karen Primack, Kulanu Newsletter, Summer 2009, p.1
Next December Rabbi Stephen Leon will introduce a Resolution at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism biennial convention to honor the victims of the Spanish Inquisition on Tisha B’Av. (This is a solemn fast day that mourns the destruction of the First and Second Temples on the ninth day of the month of Av.) Leon’s Resolution, which would apply to Conservative congregations, would also honor Bnai Anousim who have returned to Judaism.
The text of the Resolution reads as follows:
Resolution on the observance of Tisha B’av to be a day to commemorate the Spanish Inquistion and the return of the Anousim to Judaism
Whereas the holiday of Tisha B’av recalls the very day that the expulsion of the Jews from Spain took place in the year 1492; and
Whereas many Jews were forcibly converted to Christianity publicly, but continued to practice Judaism in secret; and Whereas many of the descendants of these Jews who are called B’nei Anousim have returned formally to Judaism today, and many are in the same process,
Now, therefore be it resolved that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism calls upon all of its affiliated congregations to formally observe Tisha B’av on an annual basis as an occasion to educate its members about the history and events of the Spanish Inquisition regarding the Jewish people, and to inform its members of the return of the B’nei Anousim to Judaism today; and Be it further resolved that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism helps to provide programs, speakers, films, and other appropriate materials for such Spanish Inquisition and B’nai Anousim commemorations on Tisha B’av.
Leon’s synagogue, Congregation B’nai Zion of El Paso, Texas, will be receiving an award at the December convention for its annual Anousim conferences. For the past nine years the congregation has brought in speakers, films and programs about the Bnai Anousim during the Tisha B’Av service. Congregants have listened to Yaffa DaCosta, Sonya Loya, Art Benvenisti, Richard Santos, Rabbi Juan Meji, and Trudy Alexy, author of The Mezuzah in the Madonna’s Foot. They have also viewed such films as The Longing by Gloria Bohm, about Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn’s work with Anousim in Latin America.
Tisha B’Av is the perfect time to mourn the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and to celebrate the return of their descendants, the Bnai Anousim of today,Leon notes. he response to our programs has been wonderful. Rabbi Stephen Leon