Copyright © George Vergara, 2011, All rights reserved
Once there was a secret that, for centuries, was carefully guarded by many families. If exposed, this secret meant torture and death. Now, almost forgotten, this secret surfaced when those holding it are no longer in danger of being persecuted or killed.
This historic and romantic saga is the story of Marcelo Espinosa— raised a Catholic, son of Secret Jews— who fled the clutches of the Spanish Inquisition in Madrid, Spain during 1587. It sheds light upon all those Sephardic Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition and came to live in the Spanish New World.
But, the story really began some three hundred years earlier when medieval Spain had the world’s single largest Jewish community. Some hundred thousand Jews lived and worked with Christians and Moors in an almost peaceful though generally segregated coexistence. It became known as the “Golden Age” of both Jewish and secular achievements.
However, anti-Jewish attitudes were on the rise throughout Europe. In 1290, King Edward I of England signed the Edict of Expulsion for its Jews; France followed suit in 1306. In Spain, the anti-Jewish sentiment exploded in the summer of 1391 with angry anti-Jewish riots. These riots led to a massive forced conversion of Jews to Christianity. Jewish converts were known as conversos or newly baptized Christians.