Hidden Legacy of Sefarad, the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula

Jewish Organizations Take a Deep Dive into the Persecution of Hispanic Sephardic Crypto-Jews



April 15, 2021 - An enthralling three-part lecture series exploring the story of the Jews of Sefarad – a far-reaching, complex saga with profound consequences – will be hosted by Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) and Jewish Heritage Alliance (JHA) between April and June. The sessions will explore various components of this compelling story and how present-day outreach efforts are assisting descendants of Sefarad in re-discovering their Jewish identity.


It is believed that the first Jews arrived on the Iberian Peninsula (Sefarad) as early as Biblical times. The earliest archaeological proof dates to the 4th Century CE. Except for a relatively brief period referred to as “The Golden Age,” this was a tumultuous and turbulent period for the Jews of Sefarad, as they experienced oppression, persecution, massacres, and forced conversion to Christianity. These conversions created the converso phenomenon.


The series commences on Sunday, April 25, with keynote speaker Rabbi Peter Tarlow, PhD, a world-renowned expert on the subject of Sefarad, and founder of the Center for Latino–Jewish Relations and Crypto-Jewish Studies. The program will also feature Rabbi Gilberto Ventura, who will share with us his amazing outreach efforts to assist thousands of Brazil’s conversos with their journey back to their Jewish roots.


The second installment of the series taking place on May 23, will give attendees a first-hand glimpse into the lives of three descendants of conversos. You will hear from Dr. Lorenzo Trujillo, a proud descendant of Crypto-Jews whose family, in 1598, settled in the region which eventually became New Mexico. Genie Milgrom will share her mesmerizing saga back to her Jewish roots and how she traced her Crypto-Jewish heritage through 22 generations — dating all the way back to 1405. The program will also feature Hannah (once Ana) Eyal, a native of Portugal who made her way back to her Jewish roots and the land of Israel.

The series will conclude on June 13 with a lively discussion surrounding the earliest Sephardic connections to the land of Israel and present-day efforts to connect descendants of Sefarad with their homeland. Those tuning into this session will hear from speakers including Ashley Perry, President of Reconectar, an organization dedicated to reconnecting the more than 200 million descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews with Israel.


Attendees at all three sessions will also hear from JNF-USA affiliate, Nefesh B’Nefesh, which promotes, encourages, and facilitates immigration to Israel by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical, and social obstacles that new immigrants may face.


Event details:

What: The Converso & Latino Connection to Israel: A Three-Part Series

When: April 25, May 23, and June 13, 2021 at 1:00 pm ET

Where: Zoom. Register at jnf.org/converso

Cost: Free to attend

Questions about the event? Contact Samuel Richardson, srichardson@jnf.org or 800.211.1502 x 855.


Visit jnf.org/ondemand to view additional upcoming virtual events.



Media Contact:

Jennifer Milton

561.447.9733 x 875



About Jewish National Fund-USA

JNF-USA is the leading philanthropic organization for Israel that supports critical environmental and nation building activities in Israel’s north and south. Through its One Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade, JNF-USA is developing new communities in the Galilee and Negev, connecting the next generation to Israel, and creating infrastructure and programs that support ecology, individuals with special needs, and heritage site preservation.


About Jewish Heritage Alliance

Jewish Heritage Alliance's underlying mission is to capture and promote the much-neglected saga of Sefarad, the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula, a fascinating segment of Jewish and world history, and the profound consequences of their story. From early arrival to the Iberian Peninsula to the "Golden Age," a time when Jews were able to coexist peacefully with their neighbors, rising to great prominence in society, business, and government, through the dark days of the massacres, inquisitions, forced conversions, leading to the expulsion of 1492 and beyond. For more information, visit www.jewishheritagealliance.com