Sephardic Questions & Answers
What is Sephardic?
Sephardic emanates from the Hebrew word Sepharad, the ancient name of Spain.
Who are the Sephardim?
These are Jews from the the Diasporas, or exiles in Israel who fled to Sepharad, Spain. The first “Diaspora” was in 586BCE, when the first Temple was destroyed in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Later, more Jews joined their brethren in the second “Diaspora” in 70AD after the exile and destruction of the Second Temple built by Herod. These Jews had been sent by Solomon many centuries earlier to bring gold, silver, materials, during the construction of Solomon’s Temple. These Jews had established communities in “Sepharad”, later known as Spain.
These “Jews” who helped found Spain, helped to bring the “Golden Age”; the flourishing of the Arts and Sciences. These “exiles of Jerusalem” were from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with some Levites(each tribe had Levites, priests sprinkled in it).
When did the Sephardic Jews leave Spain?
In 1492 – 1502 , Jews were expelled by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Thereafter followed the Inquisition that lasted 300 years in Spain. This Inquisition followed them to the new world —Mexico City, Peru, Guatemala and other nations. Columbus sailed to the New World during this same time. It is documented that Columbus (who probably was a Jew himself) made at least four voyages to the New World. It is believed that he was responsible for bringing many of these “prohibited people” (la gente prohibida)into the new world. The Jews, were exiled to go anywhere else in Europe, etc., but prohibited from going to the New World.
What is “Marrano”?
“Marrano”, or pig, was the name given to Jews in Spain who converted to the Catholic faith.
What is the Negev?
The “Negev” is the desert just south of the Judaen Desert, south of Jerusalem. This desert in Israel, is where the Sephardim are to return and possess, according to Obadiah 19,20.
When was the Spanish Inquisition extablished?
By 1480, the Spanish Inquisition was legally established, and most of Europe was now closed to all Jews, both Ashkenazi(those Jews from European countries) and Sephardic(Spanish Jews).
What is Anusim?
Anusim is the word given to those who were coerced, forced and raped as a people and stripped of their true identity, that of being Jews.
What are some of the indications of a Spanish descent person with a sephardic name really being Jewish?
There are now more than 6,000 names that have been documented from several sources—Lists of Inquisition victims in Mexico, Lists of people who came and founded not only areas in Mexico, such as Nuevo Leon (Monterrey), Lists of Soldiers who helped found south Texas and New Mexico with Juan Perez Narizhonda De Onate around 1597 and others .
(Some of this history is documented in Dell Sanchez book, Alliyah and also his book, The Last Exodus and can be obtained through this web-site. Much information can be found through other websites like, Sephardim.org.
Where can I find more information?
You may search for your family surname under “Sephardim.org” and other websites. There is also information available at University of California at Berkley Bancroft Library, at University of Texas @ San Antonio, University of Tuscon, AZ, etc., and geneology records in Utah compiled in the Latter Day Saints Church archives, etc.
What are the Indications that I may have a Sephardic background?
There is much history that families have hidden, so you may start by talking to your relatives in relation to their known past history. You will have to do much research as to your own family background (This is sometimes difficult, as family members were usually told to keep this a “secret”).
Some of these families came from such areas as Nuevo Reyno de Leon, northeastern Mexico(such as Guadarajara, Zacatecas, etc. Many of these hidden Sephardim migrated to south and central Texas and parts of New Mexico. Here are some other historical and common indications, among others:
- The use of the Ladino language(or Ledezmo, not necessarily “correct Spanish” that was an archaic type Spanish spoken by the Sephardim, ie: mercar for comprar, ueno for bueno, semos for somos, parientes for padres, ansina for asina, etc.
- The Sephardic custom of giving biblical names to the children(ie, Natanael, Raquel, Josue, etc. Dietary practices such as, throwing an egg away if it had a spot of blood on it, avoiding blood in meat, testing the special knives on the edge of a fingernail or hair, etc.—many more.
- Avoiding churches with idols or icons, cleaning the house and bathing for the Sabbath, circumcising their male infant on the eighth day, Jewish objects in the home, etc.
- Other birth and practices, like throwing a silver a coin in a new baby’s bath water, the marrying of “our own kind”, etc.
- Female members covered their head with a scarf, purifying of the house after a death, cover mirrors in the house of the deceased, sweeping the dirt to the middle of the floor instead of out the door, etc.
These practices and many more have been kept secret for at least four hundred years. These traditions and others were continued, yet the meaning of many of the old customs was lost.
What is Aliyah?
Aliyah means to ascend to Jerusalem. The immigration of Jews to Israel. There are at least 600 plus prophecies that either command, instruct or encourage Jews to make Aliyah and return to Israel. The challenge to the “anusim” has been that many of the original records were lost when families were made to become conversos(converted ones).
The Biblical Promise of Return and Restoration:
Then God’s people will regain southern Judah from Edom; they will take back the mountains of Edom, They will take back the western hills from the Philistines.
They will regain the lands of Ephraim and Samaria, and Benjamin will take over Gilead.
People from Israel who once were forced to leave their homes will take the land of the Cananites, all the way to Zarephath,
People from Judah who once were forced to leave Jerusalem and live in Sepharad
Will take back the cities of southern Judah.(personal Emphasis)