21 July 2007

Brazil: Crypto-Jewish exhibit

An exhibition on the history and experience of anousim (those forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition) over 500 years is at the Jewish Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

"Crypto-Jews: The Flame that the Inquisition Could Not Extinguish," was designed and produced by Shavei Israel in Jerusalem, which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people.

Maps, illustrations and photographs, with explanations in Hebrew and Portuguese, tells the anousim story and the centuries-long struggle to preserve Jewish identity. It has previously been exhibited in Israel and Spain.

Anousim are also known as "crypto-Jews" (crypto means secret) or by the pejorative term "marranos."

The exhibit highlights the arrival of Portuguese crypto-Jews in Brazil beginning in the 16th century, and describes horrific persecution endured at the hands of the Inquisition. Those suspected of practicing Judaism (Judaizers) were often returned to Portugal for trial, where they were frequently burned at the stake in public ceremonies, called auto-de-fe.

The display closed July 23 at the Museu Judaico do Rio de Janeiro, but travels to Belo Horizonte (August 2-16), the Amazon cities of Manaus (August 9-20) and Belem (August 27-September 6).

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