Why I’m Fascinated by the Anousim

If you have donated recently, thank you so much. If not, there is still time to donate before the end of the year – thank you!

Please enjoy this message about the Anousim, from Kulanu staff member Katie Rosenthal.

All the best for 2015!

December 28, 2014

I have been working for Kulanu for seven years, and in that time I have had the chance to get to know many of the dedicated individuals and groups who make this organization so special. And although I am continually amazed by all the stories of the Jewish communities we encounter around the world, there is something particularly fascinating about the Anousim, or “Crypto-Jews” – the descendants of Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition. Many of these persecuted individuals fled or went into hiding, while others continued practicing Judaism in secret, despite the very real fear of being discovered.

Meet Sonya Loya, Anousi artist and activist-educator, in this YouTube video

The secrecy, the history, and the dispersing to such diverse parts of the globe just emanates drama, mystery, and intrigue. I am fascinated by the compelling image of a young child watching her grandmother light candles and chant something in a foreign tongue every Friday night, imagining it to be perhaps the ritual of some kind of secret society. And the discovery of the truth behind these traditions often proves a heart-wrenching, yet fulfilling, journey for those who undertake it.

For me, the ever-unfolding story of the Anousim embodies why Kulanu’s work is so important: it’s about helping people celebrate and embrace that “spark”, even if it’s been buried for generations. So as we close out this fiscal year, I’m writing to remind you why “all of us” do what we do, and why we need your help to do it.

(Video from the Shil do Tatuape community in Brazil – members singing their thanks for siddurim provided by Kulanu and the Good People Fund)

Through visits and volunteers, publications and social media, and contributions of funds, books, and Judaica, Kulanu connects with and supports the Anousim Jewish communities in Latin America, Europe, and the United States – those who are “re-discovering” their Judaism, as well as those who are embracing Judaism without an ancestral connection. We are often contacted by individuals who found they have Jewish roots and are seeking a Jewish community that will welcome them and teach them about Judaism so they may honor their roots and keep these traditions alive, and we are glad to help build those bridges.

Perhaps you have your own story of “finding your roots” or of “returning” to the ways of your ancestors. Maybe Kulanu has helped you discover what Judaism means to you, regardless of your past. Whatever your story, “all of us” are here for you, and others like you.

Please help us continue to build these connections and support all of our Jewish lives with a donation today, so we can end 2014 on a positive note! Go to www.kulanu.org/donate to donate online, or use the form below to mail in your gift in support of this important work. Thank you for your generosity.

Muchas Gracias / Todah Rabah / Muito Obrigado

Thank You Very Much!


Katie Rosenthal

Program Coordinator, Kulanu Inc.


P.S. Click here to read from our annual report how Kulanu supported Jewish communities in Latin America this past year!

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Harriet Bograd, Kulanu, 165 West End Ave. 3R, New York, NY 10023

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