Who Was a Jew in the Middle Ages? Conversos, Jews, and the Question of Religious Identity

Beth El Hebrew Congregation, Alexandria, VA

Dates: Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Time: 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Speaker: Dr. Jonathan Ray

As a religious minority group, Jews have lived under the shadow of potential conversion for most of their long history.  Toward the end of the Middle Ages, this looming threat was realized in dramatic fashion as waves of conversions to Christianity in Spain gave rise to a whole society of “New Christians,” or “Conversos.”  The Spanish monarchy famously attempted to resolve the situation by creating a new branch of the Inquisition.  But how did Spain’s surviving Jewish population respond?  This lecture will explore the repercussions of the Converso phenomenon from the Jewish point of view, and consider the problems that the Conversos posed to Jewish identity and communal unity. 

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Beth El Hebrew Congregation
3830 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304


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