Why is the Inquisition of five centuries ago making headlines today? The tentacles of Jew-hatred…
“Gaze not on the day of your brother, the day of his estrangement; and rejoice not over the Children of Judah on the day of their destruction; and do not expand your mouth on the day of misfortune.”
My message of two weeks ago on the “Lost Jews of the Inquisition” hit a nerve that has created a tidal wave of overwhelming response –both from readers of Israel365, where it first appeared online on July 25, as well as from our family of PJTN supporters.
I am very encouraged as I work to raise funding for the pre-production this fall of our next PJTN documentary. This film, from our award winning team, will present the story of the “Lost Jews Of the Inquisition” with the in-depth historical facts and tireless research that a story of this magnitude deserves.
To recap the heart of my message:
(Read my complete message here)
European history tells us that tens of thousands of Jews were forcibly expelled from Portugal in December of 1496 when Portugal’s King decreed that all Jews must leave the country. The King wished to completely and forever eradicate Judaism from Portugal by issuing two conflicting decrees. The initial edict of expulsion of 1496 later became an edict of forced conversion. In 1497, Portuguese Jews were prevented from leaving the country and were forcibly baptized and converted to Christianity. Over 2000 of these “new Christians”, known as “conversos”, were massacred amid the bloodshed and constant cruel hand of the Inquisition.
As a lover of Israel and the Jewish people, I recently discovered that my family’s lineage could be traced back to the Sephardic Jews of Portugal. By definition, Sephardic Jews are Jews who lived for generations on the Iberian Peninsula and were forced to convert to Catholicism or fled from their homes. Many who were forcibly converted were later tortured and burned at the stake as “false Christians” and heretics.
As a follow to my message, this somber note came to me last week from a valued PJTN donor:
“Laurie, I visited the ”Jerusalem of Spain” a few years back—a town in Spain called Toledo. The city was once predominately Jewish with dozens of temples and buildings and a bustling of Jewish life. Today those temples have been turned into churches. I asked a nun that was the spokesperson for one such ‘ex temple’ to tell me what happened to the Jews? She told me that they left or converted (failing to mention the massacres of those that refused to convert.) I asked ‘ how can you truly force people to convert if it’s by force and not their true belief?’ She smiled and told me that at first these Jews were pretending but generations later they no longer know who they are. She seemed so proud and happy about that. The entire time I walked around looking at people who may very well have been my family members—people completely oblivious of their true identity and of the trauma that their Jewish family may have endured at the very hands of the system they now believe to be their own. We need to gather all the souls back and let them know who they are. We need to right the wrongs of history.”
Just last week. while watching the global news coverage of the Pope’s “Youth Day” Mass celebration in Lisbon, Portugal–an outdoor event attended by an estimated 1.5 million young people–, I couldn’t help but wonder: “How many of these young people are unknowingly part of a Jewish family lineage—perhaps my own?” As is the ages old history of God’s Chosen People, so much Jewish tragedy has been covered by the sands of time and the veil of secrecy in the name of “religion.”
I pray that you’ll consider your most generous gift to support the production of “The Lost Jews of the Inquisition.” It will be a major financial commitment by PJTN – we can only produce this important film and the story that MUST be told with the help of our faithful donors! We must “proclaim justice to the nations of the world” on behalf of our Jewish brethren and all Israel!