Personal experience/ family experience:
*While mom was growing up, her community (Ponce, Puerto Rico) did not work on Saturdays.
*Not unusual among people of this community to postpone baptism until the age of 12 or 13, when there was pressure from Catholic Church to affirm the Catholic faith among children of confirmation age.
(Those baptised were seldom confirmed, which was a requirement of the Catholic Church). *Food Hala=Pan de Huevo Equivalents: Macaroons = Meringue cookies Hanukkah oil fried confections = Bunuelos (aka Bimuelos) for New Years (accompanied by Lighting of candles) Matzoh= Soda crackers. *At every wedding among my family and friends Hava Nagilah is sung at the reception. Everyone knows the lyrics, none knows why the sing it. *Lighting votive candles for the dead. *Music: The most famous serenade in all Spanish speaking countries is "Estas son las mananitas que cantabe el Rey David....." In the history of Spain, there is never been a King David (Who, by the way, was known to be quite the ladies man) Childhood song my mom and her contemporaries used to sing "Donde esta la llave, matarilerilerile, donde esta la llave,matarilerileron. En el fondo del mar,....." Where is the key...where is the key.....In the bottom of the ocean..... Assumes to be referring to the keys that many families brought with them upon leaving Spain during Inquisition. *Childhood religious indoctrination based on Old Testament. Not overtly religious, very little connection to Catholic Church - Never attended, unless absolutely necessary for avoiding suspicion. *Moise- (Variation of Spanish pronunciation for the name Moses) Special basket and receiving blanket for new born. Sometimes an heirloom. *Circumcision of all baby boys. *Common names (keep in mind that for men in speaking countries, and many times among women, names are handed down from grandfather and father to son, and other family members). Men : Moise/s, Israel, David, Sa(o)lomon, Ruben.... Women: Ester, Rebecca, Sara, and Raquel..... *Dialect: Ponce, and some southern mountain regions, have a particular "dialect" (besides experiencing this first hand because my mother's family lived there, I studied this in a Spanish Linguistics course at State University of New York at Albany. It sounds like Ladino with Portuguese (mom's family is from Portugal). Mom remembers visiting very isolated families in remote mountain areas and barely understanding them. My grandfather speaks a cross between Ladino and Portuguese. What is distinctive about southern and mountain regions accent is the liberal use of the guttural aspiration found in Hebrew in place of the "r" and "i" sounds. *Secrecy surrounding certain times of the year. My grandfather remembers older brothers coming to visit from Europe at odd times of the year (not on Christian religious calendar). They shut themselves in a candle lit room and were spoken in a strange language (he was too young to join in). He was not told that they were Jewish until he completed his 12th birthday and was baptised. *Grandfather remembers wondering when he was small, why his father's underwear had gold claps and little pockets in the lining. Little pockets were also on the lining of the families' coats and other garments. *Intermarriage in the family was common. Also, marriages between select families whose histories and lineage were known. *words related to Jews and Judaism that were known to have negative connotations in Puerto Rico: Ladino= Someone who is shifty, secretive, untrustworthy. Common to insult someone by calling them "Judio!" and spitting on their feet. Jodio= someone who is in a really bad way. The ending ICO/ ICA (connoting masculine and feminine respectively) in Ladino are used to refer to something small and often precious. For example, in that dialect a beloved child may be referred to with an endearment ending in ICO/ICA: Mi kerido ijico. In Spanish (particularly contemporary Spanish) this ending is used in a negative way to belittle something being referred to. Cryptic practices (other sources)
Edward R. Silverman "Family Secrets", Jerusalem Report, January 14, 1993.
*The creation of St. Esther- the queen in the Purim story, honoured because she too kept her Jewishness a secret for a time *Grandfathers who wore shawls to pray. *Cousins who marry cousins to preserve bloodlines. *Elderly relatives who spoke Ladino. *Slaughter of meat according to the laws of Kashrut. *Keeping of a special day of fest each fall, apparently based on Yom Kippur. *Circumcision of baby boys. *Use of special candelabrum each winter. *Baking of an unusual bread during Holy Week every year. *Gravestones without crosses, but with unusual markings that look like the Hebrew letter shin-- standing for Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names of God. *Often in such families, the oldest son was educated as a priest, continuing a tradition that began during the 15th. century of conveying Jewish learning secretly through Catholic men of God. From the Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot by Trudy Alexy. 1993. *Words found in dictionaries in Spain
Cohen used to be in the dictionary until recently as a descriptive noun, with a bad meaning.'Pimp, sorcerer, witchcraft practitioner'. Based on secret judaising.
Hebrew still appears in some dictionaries as 'a person who still believes in the Law of Moses'. Passover 'a feast Jews used to celebrate'. As if the religion was no longer in practice. Synagogue used to have three definitions. A place where Jews pray, a site for Jewish religious ceremonies, a place of concubinal and conspiracy' assembly.
'Judiada' loosely translated means 'bad omen' or ' bad luck' Marrano (swine), what Christians and unconverted Jews called conversos. They refer to themselves as Anusim--The Forced Ones.
*One man in each family should become a priest. When you went to confession he is the one you went to. Priests had legitimate reasons for keeping secrets. Allowed keeping Hebrew texts without arousing suspicion
Retour au sommaire