Shalom everyone! As the title says, this is my b’nei anousim journey. I was born & raised in North Texas, in a secular, non-religious household. My family in recent generations has always been Catholic, but not practicing, in any serious manner. I never attended Church regularly nor have I ever been confirmed as a Catholic, and, quite frankly have no desire to be, nor a desire to buy into that whole mantra.With that being said, I have been into genealogy for some time now, researching family, etc … well, my paternal grandma’s side, has always been the prime one that interested me, they spoke primarily French and Spanish until my father was born. Her lineage is French & Spanish–her family is from Louisiana, I am descended from many Acadian (‘Cajun’) families from NFL & Lab. along with Isleno families from the Canary Islands of Spain. My ancestors came here during the great expulsion from (what is now) Canada, and the territory changed hands with the Spanish, becoming ‘La Luisiana’, my Isleno heritage came specifically from the Canary Islands off of North Africa. This immensely interested me; the Isleno families of Domingue(s/z’),De Souza, Caceres, Quevedo, Suarez, Vizcaino, Perez, Bet(h)anco(u)rt, Macias, Matias, De La Cruz, Falcon, Cabeza, De Arvelo, Placensia, Des Cubas, Reyes, Barrosa, Baltazar, de Herrera, De Leon, Martel, Berriel, Ramirez, Gomez, Espino, De Pavya, Hidalgos, Deniz, Morales, Perrera, Acosta, Rodriguez, Lopez, (de) (H)orta, Ca(b/v)allero, Hernandez, (de Franqui(s/z), Gonzale(s/z), and so many more here and up their trees. I began connecting with other Isleno family, and began discovering more about our family specifically in the Canaries, as they had been there for 200+ years prior to coming to ‘La Luisiana’. I even began reaching out to distant relatives in the Canary Islands, whose heritage I share. I thereon learned, from them, that I am b’nei anousim, ‘descendant of the forced ones’. Since learning that, I have grown an affinity for my Sephardic Jewish roots, and I learned also that many of my Iberian heritage came from the Canaries specifically because their forefathers/mother had fled to the Island chain to flee the inquisition, I now learned that I have confirmed lineage with many of these individuals because, two+ of my cousins who are in other states, and share many of the Louisiana Isleno lines as me, have gathered immense documentation, evidence, etc .. and were each* granted Spanish and Portuguese citizenship. I was surprised by all of this, because there is a strong chance that many of my Isleno ancestors whom arrived in Louisiana, married other families who were of Sephardic origin such as themselves, even though they may have not been practicing Jews by any stretch, and they may very-well have been practicing Crypto-Judaism, because of this intermarrying.
I have no desire to use this for Portuguese citizenship (Spanish’ closed), I actually have a desire to use this to reintroduce me to my Jewish roots. I also traced back my father’s strictly matrilineal line, and they came from a Jewish family in the canaries, and by Halakha, my father is a born Jew (strictly unbroken, maternal line).
This is just crazy to learn about, I have since connected with ‘Reconectar’, among other b’nei anousim-based organizations that return individuals such as myself to Judaism and being Jewish.
I am just excited to have learned about this, have already contacted one of the leading b’nei anousim Rabbis in the U.S. (Jacques Cuckierkorn). He was a Rabbi in Louisiana specifically looking for people who are descended from the Islenos to make them aware of their Jewish roots, and there are other writings on the b’nei anousim of Louisiana and the southwestern U.S., and my reason for writing this is because most of the attention given to b’nei anousim is specifically in Mexico, Central, and South America. Many don’t realize that there is b’nei anousim that are from Louisiana or have roots in said state such as myself. I have so far learned that my cousins who reconnected with their Jewish roots were given their certificate of reversion/conversion, along with their certificate of Sephardic heritage, and I deeply want to convert/revert through the teachings of the Torah.
I wanted to raise awareness for the fact that the b’nei anousim comes in so many different demographics, from the Middle East, to mainland Europe, to North Africa (where mine came (from/to), to the Americas—shapes, sizes, race, ethnicities. It’s just insane to learn about.
I’m not writing this to ‘claim’ to be a Jew (yet, until I finish my conversion/reversion), at least by Halakha (tracing my matrilineal line currently, as my cousin and I suspect it may actually be Ashkenazi, I do have some Ashkenazi heritage on my paternal grandfather’s side, and on my mother’s overall side, scattered), but I am trying to raise awareness for other b’nei anousim such as myself in similar ancestral circumstances along the same lineages, specifically Isleno lineage that came to Louisiana, Florida, or the Caribbean (New Orleans was the capitol of ‘La Luisiana’, and the territory was considered apart of the Caribbean, geopolitically).
I am proud to be b’nei anousim, and if there are other individuals here who maintain ancestry in similar circumstances line mine, I would love to connect.
I want to return to my people, and I have already begun with ‘Zera Yisrael’. I’d like to read more writings on the anousim of Louisiana or the Canaries if anyone could please send some my way! In Spanish or English.
One of the goals* of the Inquisition was to rip the culture and heritage of the Sephardic Jews, and mine seeked refuge on the Islands of another continent to maintain said roots. I think it would be a great respect to return to them, and raise my children in a similar manner (when I begin to start a family).
My cousins with similar stories to mine have already begun, I would like to work with, or start, an organization specifically for individuals such as myself!
It’s just sad, intense, and crazy to learn about what my ancestors went through, and what was hidden from their descendants for centuries. I noticed a trend that many of my b’nei anousim ascendants were marrying other b’nei anousim descendants for many years, even when they arrived here in ‘La Luisiana’. I want to revitalize the culture of my ancestors, and spread this knowledge to other b’nei anousim cousins across the U.S. I share as a result. To make sure that they are at least aware of their true heritage, regardless of if they wish to ‘return’ or not.
I am just proud to have learned about this, and I have found a connection with my Sephardic Jewish roots, that I did not ever feel with Christianity, or its subsets.
There is so much more I want to write, that I will write in subsequent posts!
Edit: as well as a descendant of the Montesdeoca family.
Many of my ancestors were listed in the inquisition records my cousins & I have found, some of my family went to the canaries & got to see the original documents!
submitted by /u/Americanwithspice