Who We Are: Quienes Somos
Casa Sefarad gathers and unites the Sephardic Jews of New Mexico (variously known as Conversos, crypto-Jews and Anusim) for healing, celebration, comunidad y learning. We are a program of Nahalat Shalom, a Jewish congregation in Albuquerque, NM and serving Sephardic Jews for well over ten years. We celebrate our heritage with food, art, literature, music and dance.
At the core of this community is deep historical trauma resulting from the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition turned family members against each other, attempted to destroy their identity and ultimately cut them apart from their homeland, Sefarad.
In the past, this population has been referred to by the derogatory term "Marrano." Accepted terms today include "crypto (hidden) Jews", "Conversos" (those who converted) and "Anuism" which is translated as "forced ones" or "raped ones". Some of us have climbed out of hiding, but we came from ancestors that were shamed and tortured, and expelled from their homeland. Inside our hearts we hold a deep longing for Sefarad.
Thirty years ago, three of us started to talk about our roots. Sixteen years ago, our pioneering Sephardic Shabbat Services aired on KUNM-FM for two years, led by our beloved Lorenzo Dominguez (of blessed memory) and Dr. Maria Sanchez.
We have published our poems in books and our portraits and art have hung in the art gallery at the synagogue but also at the National Hispanic Cultural Center which is less than five miles from our site in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Selfies for Sefarad, a collection of photographs of Sephardic Jews around the world, from Spain, Morocco, Mexico, Guatamala, Chile, the Carribean Islands, Jamaica, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the United States, Canada, Germany, Portugal, is a production of Casa Sefarad, and will become an ongoing social media project for which we care for as part of all of our efforts to grow.
We are heeding the call from those around the world to position Casa Seferad to be a comunitario and cultura for those who are seeking an entrance into Jewish community, understanding and healing. We want to provide resources for geneology and dual citizenship (which we have established and facilitate) and to ensure the continuity for our children who otherwise will grow up with the continued historical trauma, internalized shame, and only hints at their ancient relatives lives as proud Judios.
Currently we have about 150 people who follow us on a list serve, many of whom are still hidden and hesitant to walk into a synagogue. We've named ourselves Casa Sefarad (House of Spanish Descent) and we are located at Nahalat Shalom, a small and friendly Jewish synagogue in Albuquerque, NM. We provide an inclusive, welcoming and safe place, as we celebrate our Sephardic heritage. We host a monthly Sephardic/Crypto-Jewish/Anusim Shabbat Dinner in Ladino, Hebrew, Spanish and English.
We produce the annual Festival Djudeo-Espanyol, which celebrates the history and culture of the Iberian Jewish presence in New Mexico (and beyond) through workshops, Shabbat, socialization, and sharing food, music, and art.