BY DELL SANCHEZ, 4Sephardim—
Not long ago, a high ranking official in the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem asked me a profound question about my people, the Sephardic Anusim. His question was, “Are there others like you?” After we explained to him that there is a multitude ‘of us’ in the USA and all across the Americas.
He then proceeded to urge me to place ‘a face’ on American Sephardic Anusim because they’d heard of us but had never encountered any of us in real life-only in the history books. Although I’d been doing exactly this in my books (in English and in Spanish and one in German), but they didn’t know about these books until now.
In my latest book, (“Out From Hiding-Evidences of Sephardic Roots among Latinos”) , I make a special effort to provide a general portrait of my people. Hence, in the conclusion of this book, I provide a broad synthesis of my people’s “face,” our socio-cultural profile.
Therefore, I shall relate to the major variables, issues and concerns which make up this people group. They include elements of the physical, educational, occupational, familial, social values, socio-cultural characteristics, and patriotism, Zionism and spiritual-religious issues. However, I need to forewarn you that this profile is neither exhaustive nor conclusive in a permanent way because our profile continues to evolve–not in Darwinian’s method but by the raw reality of life’s ever changing realities and demographics. I pray this knowledge will do at least two things:
(a) Provide knowledge to those with a sincere concern about this subject; and
(b) Provide a basis for effective and compassionate prayer and intercessions for my people.
The Sephardic Anusim of America (referring only to the USA) are very much like today’s Israeli society. I base this fact on almost 30 trips to Israel and in-depth interaction with Israeli leaders as well as the Israeli grassroots of society.
American Anusim are tall, short, stocky, lean, brown skin, dark hair and dark eyes as well as very light skin, blonde, reddish hair, blue and green eyes. Their diversity is enormous, just as it is in Israel. Some look very dark, almost black while others look very fair skin European.
The American Anusim have larger families than all other races in America. The national average is 3.19 children per family-the Latino/Anusim family is 3.87 children per family. There is a huge difference in numbers when you set these figures into the millions. For instance, for every million families, there’s a difference of approximately 680,000 more children within the Latino/Anusim home. At ten million families, the difference jumps to just under seven million more children.
It is a known fact that many Anusim families are larger in certain areas of the nation such as the Southwest. The median age of Latino/Anusim is 27.4, almost 10 years younger than the national norm. Two in every three homes have children under the age of 18.
Occupational and Educational Characteristics
The average income is close to $40,000 a year. They are considered to be a high consumer attraction to merchants at every level.
There is a large number of Latino/Anusim that are gifted in all areas of construction ranging from residential to commercial, including city and state construction projects. Almost one in every five is a professional in their field.
Over half of them have “some college” education and close to one-third have an undergraduate degree. Approximately one out of every ten has an advanced degree. An increasing number of them are entering highly skilled professions such as medicine, engineering and so forth.
In terms of patriotism, a large number of men and women serve in every branch of the Armed Forces. They are well represented in the areas of law enforcement, fire departments and rescue teams. Many have won the Medal of Honor for their heroism in combat; and have also incurred a disproportionately high percentage of casualties at war.
Religious and Spiritual Characteristics
The majority of them were brought up as Catholics and their parents or grandparents were Catholic. However, we are discovering that many were what is called, Catolicos solamente de palabra. In other words, despite their apparent devout posture, the majority are what I call, “Cultural Catholics.”
An increasing number have left the Catholic Church and entered the Evangelical Church system. However, in their recent discovery of their Sephardic Anusim ancestry, there is an exodus from these circles and are engaging in small, private Torah studies with a passion for the Prophets and the prophecies of old. Along with their Jewish cohorts, they strongly anticipate the coming Messiah.
The overwhelming majority of them were raised with a deep sense of respect and appreciation for Jews and Israel to the point that they have exited Christian Churches that preach “replacement theology.” In other words, they abhor any semblance of faith that despises or minimizes the existence and destiny of Israel, Israelis and Jewish people in general. I have personally heard Latino Anusim young men declare that if they could and were allowed, they would join the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) to fight against Israel’s enemies. There are increasing reports of men and women who volunteer, at their own expense, to assist in the IDF while some volunteer to assist in kibbutzim.
For the most part, the Latino Anusim are tenacious, they are not quitters. They are industrious and find ways to make things happen. They are loyal to family and to community. They are “cause oriented.” Throughout many generations, they have endured extreme difficulties and leaped over hurdles of gross incompatibility in their lives. They have endured stereotyping as well as subtle racial profiling. In a nutshell, they are survivors. They have learned to live with social injustice just as their forefathers did since the days of Inquisitions past.
It is also true that Latinos, in general, have fought against schemes from outside their camp as well as within them which attempt to divide them. These struggles were maximized throughout the ploys of various Inquisitions which aimed at destroying the Sephardim, whether they were Marrano conversos or Sephardic Jews that refused conversion. At any rate, we can yet see fundamental elements of cohesion within the Latino family and community as they continue to prefer serving and assisting one another.
Perhaps, the “miracle” in their lives has been that despite being victimized all their lives, they have not become like those that have perpetrated against them.
PS, Visit my website (www.4sephardim.com) for additional information on my books and instructional DVDs. You’ll find the button to these in the left column called PUBLICATIONS.