FUNDAMENTALLY FREUND: The Bnei Anousim: uncovering Jewish history and destiny in Latin America

FUNDAMENTALLY FREUND: The Bnei Anousim: uncovering Jewish history and destiny in Latin America

“The genetic record, now suggests that conversos – or people who shared ancestry with them – came to the Americas in disproportionate numbers”.

In recent years, as a growing number of Bnei Anusim, descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews forcibly converted centuries ago, have begun to return to our people, there has been much speculation about the potential scope of the phenomenon in Central and South America.

But now, thanks to the results of a major new genetic survey, any doubts that may have existed regarding its widespread breadth may be safely confined to the dust bin.

In a paper published on December 19 in Nature Communications, an international team of geneticists unveiled some breathtaking findings that are nothing less than the equivalent of a DNA thunderbolt.

After sampling 6,500 individuals born in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, and comparing their genetic makeup to that of 2,300 other people from 117 reference populations worldwide, the esteemed scientists discovered that 23%, or nearly one out of every four Latin Americans who were tested, have Jewish genetic ancestry. Simply put, this means that there are literally tens of millions of descendants of Jews spread throughout the southern part of the western hemisphere.

This is not wishful thinking or specious speculation. It is proof straight from the petri dish that Israel and the Jewish people now have an unprecedented opportunity to reshape our relationships with large parts of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world, including the growing number of Hispanics in the United States. 

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Esther Surikova
Esther Surikova
esther@shavei.org