In December, most Latin households overflow with the traditional Christmas spirit. It seeps out in the form of nativity scenes, advent calendars, and solemn pilgrimages to midnight mass (followed by a joyful Noche Buena). But for the hundreds of thousands of Jewish Latinos, the details of the holiday season, of Chanukah, look quite different, though the spirit remains the same.
The history of Judaism in Latin America dates back to the discovery of the New World. It is believed that conversos, or newly converted Christians of Jewish ancestry, fled Europe during the inquisition and settled in Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Caribbean and present day South America. Reveling in the mostly tolerant atmosphere of these new lands, converts returned to their original faith and openly began practicing Judaism. This tradition gave way to a strong and growing Jewish population.
Today, there are up to half a million Jewish Latinos living in Latin America. Continue reading on The Latin Kitchen. >>