Jerusalem Post, Letters to the Editor, April 1, 2018
New policy needed
In relation to “Diaspora Ministry: Millions around world with affinity to Judaism are ‘strategic asset’” (March 29), it is clear that the state has no current policy toward the “tens of millions of people around the world who have a connection to Judaism.”
One of the last such populations is the descendants of those Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity in Spain up to 500 years ago. They are called Bnei Anusim in Hebrew. Estimates of the number of such people in the Spanish- Portuguese world are about 20 million. Although they are not Jewish per se, many continue residual Jewish rituals in secret.
I recently wrote and published a book titled “The Reawakening” on specific individuals from this group who have in one way or another chosen to return to their ancestral Jewish roots.
It is past time that the State of Israel recognized this group and developed a definite policy toward it. This policy should include the establishment of conversion courses in Spanish and Portuguese in South America, the Iberian Peninsula and Israel; special visas to allow these people to stay and work in Israel while they take these courses; and recognition of their distinct nature by the Interior Ministry, just as it provided for Russian and Ethiopian Jews, and other marginally Jewish groups.
JACK S. COHEN