Successes - Past & Present
In the 1839, the Jews of Mashhad, Iran, now known as the Mashhadi
Jews
, were coerced into converting to Islam under threat of death.
Mashhad's muslim ruler had ordered his men to enter the Jewish
homes and the mobs attacked the Jewish Community, burning down
the synagogue, looting homes abducting girls and killing between 30
and 40 people. With knives held to their throats, the Jewish patriarchs
were forced to vocally proclaim their "allegiance" to Islam as it was
agreed upon by the leaders of the community that in order to save the
remaining 2,400 Jews, everyone must convert. Most converted and
stayed in Mashhad, taking in Muslim names, while some left for other
Iranian Jewish communities and to Afghanistan. That day
became known as the Allahdad ("Godís Justice"), the Jews perceived it
as a punishment for their sins. Jews who remained in Mashhad then
began living a double life as Crypto-Jews. On the outside, they acted as
Muslims; their clothes, names, and lifestyles resembled those of their
Iranian neighbors. At home, however, they secretly taught their children
to read Hebrew, lit candles, and welcomed Shabbat. Nearly a century
passed before the Jews started practicing their faith openly with the
coming of the more liberal Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979). After World
War II, most settled in Teheran or Israel, with 4000 moving to the United
States, where they ran successful jewellery and carpet businesses.
These crypto-Jews are embraced as Halachic Jews.
In 2008, an entire family of B'nei Anusim are
presently undergoing Halachic Return under
Rabbinical supervision. One of these family
members has already received a "Certificate
of Return" whereby an Orthodox Rabbi has
done sufficient investigation to lead him to
the conclusion that she is, in fact, a
descendant of those who fled Spain in
1492...winding up in Mexico. The family
maintained their heritage behind closed
doors and under cover of darkness for centuries. The Spanish Inquisition didn't
officially end until 1834. Mixed marriages are being rectified with conversion,
according to Halachah, under Rabbinic Supervision. Berrera (Pear) and Jimenez
(son of Shimon).
What is most unique about this case is that one member of the family had already
married a man in a Reform Jewish ceremony because
he was a Reform Jew. Upon
her 'Halachic Return', she was considered a Jew and he was not since Orthodoxy
does not accept patrilineal descent of Reform Judaism -
he willingly undertook an
Orthodox Conversion in order to avoid a violation of Halachah (mixed marriage)
. In
the end we are pleased to report that
they are Shomrei Shabbat Halachic
Jews, expecting a child soon, and active members of a local Sephardic
Community.
In March 2006, a Silicon Valley Executive discovered, after careful genealogical research and extensive DNA testing, that his ancestry was indeed Jewish
Maternal and Paternal. After lengthy deliberation he presented these results to an Orthodox Rabbi. The Rabbi carefully studied the evidence and concluded
this was sufficient proof that both his paternal and maternal ancestors were B'nei Anusim. His
paternal ancestors were Sephardim in Barbados, Montserrat
and Jamaica under the surnames Baeza, Benavides, Baez de Benabides, Charlaf, Charlow and Charlaw; due to the premature deaths of his ancestors due to
disease in Colonial Virginia his paternal ancestors were adopted in 1833, their names changed and they were baptised into Anabaptist Church. His
maternal
Spanish Jewish Family arrived on shores of present-day Croatia after expulsion in 1492 CE, only to be forced to convert centuries later during one of the many
wars which ravaged the Balkans. Family Surnames are Kramar/Mercado (Merchant), Ambroz (toponym from 'Valle de Ambroz'), Horvat/Hrovat (Croatian),
Gers/Gersh (Gershon) and Perec (pronounced 'Peretz'). His wife's paternal ancestors (del la Silveira, DeSousa, Morgado and Alvares) were Portuguese
Sephardim of Sao Miguel, Azores, who had lived on the island for 400 years before travelling to Hawaii to become Ranchers on the Big Island in the late
1800's where they abandoned their Jewish heritage yet took up no other.
He underwent 'Halachic Return' since he was within 4 generations of forced
conversion on his maternal side
and she underwent 'Halachic Conversion' to rejoin the Jewish People. This is a family of Shomrei Shabbat Halachic
Jews and active members of a local Sephardic Community.


The Anusim Center
for those who awaken from their slumber
In Jewish belief, the essence of Abraham is shielded from danger within all
of us throughout countless generations. The guardian of Israel never sleeps.
His chosen nation never entirely loses touch with who they really are.
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