Marranos on the Moradas

Marranos on the Moradas

Secret Jews and Penitentes in the Southwestern United States, From 1590 to 1890

eBook - 2009
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Academic Studies Press
Two groups were persecuted over the course of four hundred years in what is now the southwestern United States, each dissimulating and disguising who they truly were. Both now declare their true identities, yet raise hostility. The Penitentes are a lay Catholic brotherhood that practices bloody rites of self-flagellation and crucifixion, but claim this is a misrepresentation and that they are a community and a charitable organization. Marranos, an ambiguous and complicated population of Sephardic descendants, claim to be anousim. Both peoples have a complex, shared history. This book disentangles the web, redefines the terms, and creates new contexts in which these groups are viewed with respect and sympathy without idealizing or slandering them. Simms uses rabbinics, literary analyses, psychohistory, and cultural anthropology to consolidate a history of mentalities.

Book News
An increasing number of Hispanics living in the US Southwest claim to be of crypto-Jewish heritage, i.e., of Marranos, a derogatory term for Sephardic Jews who converted to Christianity in Inquisition-era Spain but continued to practice Judaism secretly. Some descendants of these New Christians in this region formed Catholic brotherhoods or Penitentes, who still engage in out- dated rituals including self-flagellation. Moradas are their chapels. Drawing on rabbinic sources (Midrash) and psychohistory, Simms (humanities/English, U. of Waikato, New Zealand) sheds light on the ambiguous identity of these misunderstood groups of former Jews and the broader issue of the myriad ways Jews respond to living in a non-Jewish world. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Academic Studies Pr
In his new book, Norman Simms re-defines the study of two often misunderstood religious groups. The first are Marranos who claim descent from the persecuted Spanish Jews forced to convert to Catholicism, yet who nevertheless continued to practice Jewish rituals secretly. The other group consists of the Penitentes, a Catholic group accused of violent acts of self-flagellation and other forms of masochism. Examining both groups through rabbinics, literature, psychology, and anthropology, Simms brings his readers to a new understanding of both these religious groups as well as religious mentalities.

Publisher: Boston : Academic Studies Press, 2009
ISBN: 9781618110329
Characteristics: 1 online resource (vii, 509 pages) : illustrations


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