I am on the Board of the Institute for the Study of Secret Jews (Anousim) at Netanya Academic College (NAC), that recently got a new name, a new Director and a new burst of energy. It is now called the Institute for Sefardic and Anousim Studies and is no longer associated with Casa Shalom. The new Director is Prof. Avi Gross of Ben Gurion University, an academic in the area of Anousim studies and the new Manager is Shlomo Buzaglo at NAC. The Institute has great expansion plans and the Municipality of Netanya has donated land for that purpose.
The Institute is organizing a major conference to be held on March 23-24 at NAC entitled “Mapping the Anousim Diaspora: six centuries of pushing borders,” an ambitious two-day conference that seeks to put the Anousim (Secret Jews or marranos) of the Spanish-Portuguese world on the map. The intention is to provide a detailed analysis of the numbers and distribution of the Anousim as well as their distinct cultural and Jewish practices. There will be sections devoted to Spain, Portugal, Italy, S. America, the Spanish Islands and N. America, and many experts will be speaking, including from as far afield as Brazil, Iberia, USA and England. There will be a charge for this conference (NIS 200) that includes not only the Conference itself, but lunch, refreshments for two days, a cocktail party and a musical performance ( it is hoped that the registration will help to defray the costs for the foreign speakers).
After the Conference proper there will be an additional workshop on genealogical studies relating to the Anousim. This will provide specific detailed information that will allow people to decide how to go about testing their DNA for potential Jewish markers. The Institute has already established a genealogical division that is planned to grow in the future.
At present, for reasons I don’t need to go into, the nascent Institute is in need of seeding funds, to the tune of $50,000. This will be used to develop plans, including architectural designs for the building of the Institute. If anyone can make a donation to help ensure that this development proceeds please send it to the Institute for Sefardic and Anousim Studies at NAC, c/o Esti Feinreich, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President, NAC (firstname.lastname@example.org; tel 972-9-8607885). All donations will be gratefully received and will be acknowledged. It is intended that there will be a World Center for the Study of Sefardim and Anousim and that this will include a Museum as well as a Library and a Spanish Library. There will be exhibits on Columbus, donated by Elie Schalit, and on the Inquisition. Altogether an important project to be developed and fostered in Israel.