Sefarad: Hidden Legacies Uncovered

Sunday, Jan 30, 2022

Sunday, January 30, 1:00 pm – 2:30pm ET
Free on Zoom
Registration Required – click here

On January 30, 2022, Jewish Heritage Alliance and their participating co-hosting partners will present “Sefarad: Hidden Legacies Uncovered”, a webinar that will explore the unfolding drama endured by the crypto-Jews, those that were forced to convert to Catholicism during years of persecution and massacres.

Jewish life in Spain came to an end with the 1492 Edict of Expulsion. Jews were ordered to depart the country where their ancestors had lived for centuries or convert to Christianity. Confronted by this harrowing choice, some escaped into Portugal, others converted to stay, and many fled the Iberian Peninsula for North Africa and the Ottoman Empire. At this same time, Columbus famously “sailed the ocean blue.” One of the lesser-known aspects of his voyage is that it was navigated with instruments created by Jews and funded and accompanied by crypto-Jews. Prominent among this group was Luis de Torres, the translator on the voyage, who bears the distinction of being one of the first Jews in the New World.

This webinar will host a conversation focusing on the journey of those who chose to keep their identity secret and the consequences their decisions produced. Our speakers will take us on a journey across the generations so you may learn how this crypto-Jewish identity has been understood in the Americas, including in the present day. We will explore these legacies of Sefarad through the lens of history, literature, and music.

Opening Remarks:

Mr. Michael Steinberger, CEO & Founder of Jewish Heritage Alliance.

Program Introduction:

Dr. Isaac Amon, a descendant of Sefarad, is an attorney and counselor at law and JHA Director, Academic & Program Development. Isaac graduated summa cum laude with “Highest Honors” in History for his thesis on the Spanish Inquisition and worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He has visited execution sites and torture chambers of the Inquisition as well as Nazi death camps. At the onset of the global pandemic, he was in the Iberian Peninsula researching the Iberian Inquisition.


Dr. Dalia Wassner, Ph.D. is the Director of the Project on Latin American Jewish & Gender Studies at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of Brandeis University. She holds a PhD in history from Northeastern University, an MPhil in Jewish studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York, and MAs in history and Latin American studies from Stanford University. She has been an active participant at the HBI since 2012 as a Scholar-in-Residence, Research Associate, and Gilda Slifka Internship Program mentor. Since 2015 Dalia Wassner has taught Latin American Jewish history at Brandeis in the Near Eastern & Judaic Studies Department and Latin American & Latino Studies Program. She has also developed courses in Women’s studies, Latin American studies, and Jewish studies, most recently at Emerson College, Boston University, and Brandeis University.

Guest Speakers:

Ms. Mary Morris is the author of sixteen books, including the novel, Gateway to the Moon, three collections of short stories. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications such as “The Atlantic,” “The Paris Review,” and “The New York Times”. The idea for Gateway to the Moon began over thirty years ago when Morris lived in the Southwest and became aware of the crypto-Jew of New Mexico.

Ms. Susana Behar was born in Havana to a Cuban Jewish family and was surrounded with Cuban music but also traditional Sephardic music of her Turkish grandparents. While living in Venezuela, she began to pursue her passion for Jewish music while also exploring her love of Latin American folk songs.