Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spanish Inquisition's Affect on Jews and One "Marrano"-Anusim Family-Fonseca

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                         

                                     Lyndsy Marie Fonseca, California Actress

When King Solomon's (961-920 BCE)  first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE, some Jews went to resettle in Sepharad, which was the Hebrew name for Spain.  This is why Jews from here are called Sephardics. It was rebuilt from 538 to 515 BCE, so that was 71 years later after its destruction.   Jews were there in Sepharad the 1st century CE because they are mentioned in the canons of the Church council at Elvira in 312.  Tombstones have been found from this period.  When the Roman Empire did fall, the Visigoths treated the Jews well as long as they followed the Arian form of Christianity, but when the Visigoths followed Catholicism in 589, they changed their attitude towards Jews.  From 612 on, they persecuted Jews relentlessly under the direction of successive councils of Toledo, and prohibited Judaism.
Freedom only came about for the Jews when in 711 the Arabs invaded! For the next 2 centuries, Spain became one of the greatest centers of Jewish life.  Jewish communities were Arabized in language, nomenclature and outlook.  Strangely, at this time Islamic law called for a strict anti-Jewish discrimination.  Even so, some Jews rose to high positions for people like Hasdai Ibn Shaprut in Cordova and Samuel Ibn Nagrela, vizier to the king of Granada.  Hebrew literature of poetry and philosophy flourished.  Spanish Jewry served as a channel through which classical science reached Christian Europe.  .

In 1136, Almohades, a Moorish Dynasty from NW Africa invaded Morocco and then Spain with their 2nd prince, 'Abd al-Mu'min, who was practicing Islam extremely harsh as he was a follower of Al-Ghazzali,  and the practice of Judaism was forbidden in Andalausia, now an autonomous community in Spain. The popular image of Spain as a land of bullfights, flamenco, sherry and ruined castles derives from Andalucía, the southernmost territory.   This attitude of forbidding Judaism  lasted till the 13th century.   In the north, the expanding Christian kingdoms were more tolerant as they had found that Jews were useful as diplomats, financiers, and agricultural colonists.  So now the great Jewish centers were under Christian rule.

In the court of Alfonso the Wise of Castile (1252-84), Jews were in the intellectual groups as translators and astronomers.  Samuel Abulafia in the 14th century and Isaac Abravanel in the 15th century  were court financiers.  The Moslems domination waned and northern Europe was left more tolerant.  However, in the middle of the 13th century, the Dominican Order started constant anti-Jewish propaganda blitzes which caused the Disputation of Barcelona, sermons about the need to convert Jews and the implementation of the persecutory code of the 4th Lateran Council, causing pogroms/attacks on Jews to start.

In 1391 in Spain there were waves of massacres of Jews beginning in Seville that swept through the entire Peninsula. because of the positions the Christian church had taken. Very large numbers of Jews became baptised in order to escape death.   The Dominican Campaign was led by Vicente Ferrer (1350-1419) at the beginning of the 15th Century and became very popular with the Gentiles. He was a missionary friar and noted as a logician.  Today he is a saint in the Catholic Church. "Vincent is said to be responsible for the conversion of many Jews to Catholicism, often by questionable means; for instance, he is said to have made their lives difficult until they converted and to have "dedicated" synagogues as churches on the basis of his own authority. One of his converts, a former rabbi by the name of Solomon ha-Levi, went on to become the Bishop of Cartagena and later the Archbishop of Burgos. Vincent is noted to have contributed to anti-Semitism in Spain, as violence accompanied his visits to towns that had Jewish communities. He promulgated various anti-Jewish laws banning Jews from trading food with Christians, having Christian employees, changing their residence, or cutting either their hair or beards.""Vincent also attended the Disputation of Tortosa to convert Jews."  The Spanish Inquisition was introduced in Spain in 1480 and began its campaign of repression against Jews until the zenith in 1492 and long afterwards.
In 1492, Spain decided to throw out all Jews unless they convert to Catholicism. This was the same year that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue to find India.  It was also Ferdinand and Isabella  who financed the ships Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria as well as writing the edict to expel Jews from Spain if they didn't convert.  No wonder Columbus wrote to his son in Hebrew.  He may have been a Marrano himself!  Some pretended to convert by being baptised while practicing Judaism in secret.  They were labeled as 'Marranos, which means swine or pig.  Jews don't eat pigs, so this was very pugnacious of Spaniards to call them this term.  150,000 Jews became exiles.  Many Jews fled to their next door neighbor,  Portugal in 1497 and Navarre in 1498.   Portugal had their forced conversion in 1497, which converted almost the whole body of Portuguese Jewry into insincere Christians.  The Inquisition landed hard there in 1540 and Portuguese immigrants were persecuted from Spain to to the close of the 18th century.  Jews that fled to Mexico were followed by the Inquisition as well.
                 Irene Fonseca, PhD Mathematics Professor, Portuguese American

In the 19th century some returned to Spain as the law prohibiting building synagogues had been abolished in 1909.  Small congregations now are in Madrid and Barcelona.  The expulsion wasn't officially revoked until 1931.  In 1968 the Madrid synagogue was formally dedicated, the expulsion order was then officially abolished.  By 1990, the Jewish population was 12,000 with half living in Barcelona and Madrid.  Many had come in from North Africa and Latin America.
                                  Roberto Fonseca, Cuban Pianist

Jewish fugitives fled to Italy, North Africa, Turkey, Antwerp, Holland and  Syria.   Jews from Spain and Portugal are called Sephardis as compared to Jews of Eastern Europe, who are called Ashkenazis.  The Fonsecas were a Sephardi family of Marrano origin and had fled throughout the years to Hamburg, Germany, London, England, Amsterdam, Holland, New York, USA.

Jews that had been labeled as Marranos today are called  the Anusim "which is a legal category of Jews in halakha (Jewish law) who were forced to abandon Judaism against their will, typically while forcibly converted to another  religion.  In Jewish sources, the term anusim is applied not only to the forced converts themselves, but also to their descendants who clandestinely cherished their Jewish faith, attempting to observe at least vestiges of the *halakhah, and loyalty to their Jewish identity. Both the elements of compulsion and free will enter the psychological motivation of the forced convert. The concept denoted by the term anusim, therefore, is fluid, bordering on that applying to apostates and even to *Marranos; it has been the subject of much discussion.Many are returning to Judaism. "
1. Abraham Fonseca b: abt 1600 -died in 1675.  He was a rabbi at Gluckstadt and Hamburg.
   Two other men of the same name died in 1727 and 1809 and both were physicians in Holland.
2. Antonio Rodrigo DA Fonseca of the 17th century was a physician and taught medicine in Pisa and Padua and wrote a standard work on fevers in 1623.
3. Daniel DA Fonseca of the 17th and 18th centuries was born in Portugal and educated for the priesthood.  He then openly adopted Judaism after leaving Portugal and became a physician to the sultan in Constantinople.  In 1730 he settled in Paris where he was friendly with Voltaire.
4. Antonio Lopez Dias DE Fonseca, (1776-1857) had left Judaism and was a soldier and military writer.
5. One branch of the Fonseca family was raised to the rank of marquis in Portugal and became members of the Venetian nobility in the 17th century.  Some of their descendants later reverted to Judaism and may still be traced in the USA.
6. Juan Fernando Fonseca b: 1979 in Bogota, Columbia, singer, guitar player, songwriter, record producer, activist, attended Berklee college of Music in Boston, MA, USA.  "The Grammy Award is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement on the music industry. Fonseca received one nomination 2012." Note youtube below
7. Lyndsy Marie Fonseca 1987, Oakland, California, model, dancer. actress.
8. Roberto Fonseca, Cuban  pianist, touring in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, "Success didn't knock on his door by random luck.  He has worked hard to earn his reputation as one of the most renowned and skillful Cuban jazz pianists of his generation." 
9. Irene Maria Quintaniha Coelho da Fonseca PhD, Professor of Math at Mellon College of Science, PhD from U of Minnesota, Portuguese American.  "applied mathematician, the Mellon College of Science Professor of Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, where she directs the Center for Nonlinear Analysis."

Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia  Fonesca singing/playing: eres mi sueno

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