Who is a Jew?

converso (Spanish: [komˈberso]Portuguese: [kõˈvɛɾsu]; feminine form conversa), “a convert”, (from Latin conversvs, “converted, turned around”) was a Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism in Spain or Portugal, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries, or one of their descendants.

The majority of Spain’s Jews converted to Christianity as a result of the pogroms in 1391. Those who remained openly practicing Jews were expelled by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella in the Alhambra decree in 1492, following the Christian Reconquista (reconquest) of Spain. However, even a significant proportion of these remaining practicing Jews chose to join the already large converso community rather than face exile. In order to safe-guard the Old Christian population and make sure that converso “New Christians” were true to their new faith, the Holy Office of the Inquisition was established in Spain in 1481.[1]

Conversos who did not fully or genuinely embrace Catholicism, but continued to practice Judaism in secrecy were referred to as judaizantes(“Judaizers“) and pejoratively as marranos (“swine”).

New Christian converts of Muslim origin were known as moriscos. Unlike marranosmoriscos were subject to an edict of expulsion even after their conversion to Catholicism, which was implemented severely in the eastern region of Valencia and less so in other parts of Spain.

Conversos played an important role in the 1520-1521 Revolt of the Comuneros, a popular uprising and civil war centered in the region of Castile against the imperial pretensions of the Spanish monarchy.[2]

Ferrand Martinez, Archdeacon of Ecijia, directed a 13-year anti-Semitic campaign that began in 1378. Martinez used a series of provocative sermons, through which he openly condemned the Jews with little to no opposition. He rallied non-Jews against the Jews by creating a constant state of fear through riots. Martinez’s efforts led to a series of outbreaks on June 4, 1391,[3] where several Synagogues in Seville were burned to the ground and Churches were erected in their place. Amidst this outbreak, many Jews fled the country, some converted to Christianity in fear, and some were sold to Muslims. Martinez set in motion the largest forced mass conversion of Jews in Spain.[3]

Both the Church and the Crown had not anticipated such a large-scale conversion stemming from an unplanned anti-Semitic campaign led by Ferrand Martinez. The new converts, most of whom were forced, due to their large numbers, were victims of a new problem. A problem that temporarily solved the Jewish presence in Spain, however, led to the creation of a new group that was neither completely Catholic or Jewish.[4]

The Conversos, who were now fully privileged citizens, competed in all aspects of the economic sphere. This resulted in a new wave of racial anti-Semitism that was targeted at the Conversos. This anti-Semitism evolved into small and large riots in Toledo, 1449, that now oppressed not the Jews by the Christians, but the New Christians (Conversos) by the Old Christians. Thus, the Crown established a National Inquisition in 1478, that would test the loyalty and purity of a newly baptized Christian (Converso). Due to continued oppression, some Jews and Conversos fled Spain, others created a community that ensure the survival of Judaism in the Iberian Peninsula, although outwardly practicing Christianity.[4]

Perpetuation of Jewish heritage

Conversas played a pivotal role in keeping Jewish traditions alive by observing many Jewish holidays like Shabbat. Conversas also cooked and baked traditional Jewish dishes in honor of the Sabbath (starting on Friday sundown), Yom Kippur, and other religious holidays. During festivals like Sukkot and Passover, Conversas participated by giving clothing articles and ornaments to Jewish women, they also attended a seder or obtained a baking matzah. Conversas also ensured that their household maintained similar dietary regulations as their Jewish counterparts, they did so by eating only kosher birds and other animals. Conversas also financially contributed to the growth of the Jewish / Converso Community and Synagogue.[4] The Jewish community and the Conversos exchanged books and knowledge, Jews taught Conversos how to read to ensure a constant growth of their Jewish heritage. In order to take a stance against the church and its principles, some Conversos performed professional work even on Sundays.[4]

The traditional Jewish Purim was kept by the Conversos in disguise of a Christian holiday, they named it: “Festival of Santa Esterica“.


Conversos were subject to suspicion and harassment from both what was left of the community they were leaving and that which they were joining.[5] Both Christians and Jews called them tornadizo (renegade). James IAlfonso X and John I passed laws forbidding the use of this epithet. This was part of a larger pattern of royal oversight, as laws were promulgated to protect their property, forbid attempts to convert them back to Judaism or the Muslim faith, and regulate their behavior, preventing their cohabitation or even dining with Jews, lest they convert back.

Conversos did not enjoy legal equality. Alfonso VII prohibited the “recently converted” from holding office in Toledo. They had supporters and bitter opponents in the Christian secular of general acceptance, yet they became targets of occasional pogroms during times of social tension (as during an epidemic and after an earthquake). They were subject to the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions.

While “pure blood” (so-called limpieza de sangre), free of the “taint” of non-Christian lineage, would come to be placed at a premium, particularly among the nobility, in a 15th-century defense of conversos, Bishop Lope de Barrientos would list what Roth calls “a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of Spanish nobility” as having converso members or being of converso descent. He pointed out that given the near-universal conversion of Iberian Jews during Visigothic times, (quoting Roth) “[W]ho among the Christians of Spain could be certain that he is not a descendant of those conversos?”[citation needed]

With advances in science able to trace individuals’ ancestry via their DNA, according to a widely publicized study (December 2008) in the American Journal of Human Genetics, 19.8 percent of modern Spaniards (and Portuguese) have DNA originating in the Near East during historic times (i.e. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Jews and Levantine Arabs) – compared to 10.6 percent having DNA reflecting North African ancestors.[6][7][8]

By country

In Italy

Specific groups of conversos left Spain and Portugal after the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, in search for better life. They left for other parts of Europe, especially Italy,[9] where they were inevitably looked at with suspicion and harassment, both in their old and new communities. Subsequently, many conversos who arrived in Italian cities did not openly embrace their Judaism, since they were tempted by the advantages they could seek in the Christian world.[9]

The first three cities to accept the conversos who openly converted back to Judaism, were in Florence, Ferrara and Ancona. Most of these conversos appeared after 1536 from Portugal, and most lived in Florence. In 1549, Duke Cosimo de Medici allowed the Portuguese conversos to trade and reside within Florence. Most of the re-converted Jews lived in the ghetto of Florence, and by 1705 there were 453 Jews in the city.[9]

Conversos arrived to Ferrara in 1535, and were able to assimilate with their neighbors, perform circumcisions, and return openly to Judaism, due to the Lettres Patentes issued by Duke Ercole II. After the plague in 1505 and the eventual fall of Ferrara in 1551, many of these Jews relocated North towards the economically stable ports in Venice. Venice slowly became a center for conversos who either stopped temporarily on their way to Turkey, or stayed permanently as residents in the ghetto Jewish community port. Venetian leaders were convinced to openly accept conversos to practice Judaism, because they recognized that if conversos were not welcome in Venice, they would take their successful trades to the country’s economic rival of Turkey. A Portuguese converso in Venice, named Abraham de Almeda, connected strongly with Christianity, however, turned to the Jewish members of his family when in need for financial for moral support. As a result, many of the conversos during this period struggled with their Christian and Jewish identities.[9]

Conversos in the city of Ancona faced difficult lives living under the pope, and eventually fled to Ferrara in 1555. Portuguese conversos in Ancona were falsely misled that they were welcome to Ancona and that they could openly convert back to Judaism. Their fate was overturned by the succeeding pope, Pope Paul IV. The conversos in Ancona faced traumatic emotional damage after the pope imprisoned 102 conversos who refused to reside in the ghetto and wear badges to distinguish themselves. In 1588, when the duke granted a charter of residence in return for the conversos building up the city’s economy, they refused, due to accumulated skepticism.[9]


His leadership and television interviews have gone trough out the world. Luden Centeno of Converso Marano Jewish background from Spain resides permanently in Jerusalem. His analysis of Middle Eastern events as they relate to Israel is regularly broadcast through internet radio and television through out the world, especially the USA. Luden has given close to 500 television interviews in Israel Jerusalem and broadcasts live from Jerusalem Israel on the radio. On our last 6 radio programs we have had over 500,00 listeners listening in. Our main goal is to educate the world about Israel and its right to protect herself from any form of terrorism that comes out of Ramallah and the occupied territories that belong to Israel. Israel faces many challenges and dangers since a very long time. There is an unprecedented propaganda campaign initiated by the Arab League to demonize, discredit and delegitimize the Jewish people and their state, within their own land! The efforts of the Arab League were recently seen in the UN Resolution 2334 text as follows, adopted by the UN Security Council at its 7853rd meeting, on 23 December 2016. Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008), guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice, condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions. In order to achieve their goals, the Arabs have for more than 30 years resorted to a deliberate misinformation campaign. This propaganda campaign by the Arab League – both in their own countries and for the last three decades exported to Europe and North America has caused Israel what would seem irreparable damage and indeed, it was the main culprit in the reawakening of dormant European anti-Semitism. Israel continues to suffer many attacks from terrorists and should not bow down under the pressure imposed by the USA, the EU. the Quartet, nor the UN. The former Obama administration was working behind the scenes to get UN Resolution 2334 to pass. even while allowing Iran to continue to develop their nuclear facilities by using John Kerry and others to fulfill their hidden agenda. On December 23rd 2016 the US abstained from exercising its veto to UN resolution 2334 which allowed it to pass. Then John Kerry immediately blasted Israel over the presence of Israeli settlements within Israel's own land. The Obama Administration's hidden agenda came to light. The former Obama administration was trying to force Israel to give up more land for false peace as we have seen in the past. Judea and Samaria and possibly the Jordan Valley were on the negotiating table. For perspective, if the so-called Palestinians obtained Judea and Samaria and possibly the Jordan Valley, Givat HaRoe’eh in the Samaria community of Eli, Ramat Gilad and Giv’at Assaf (also in Samaria), and Mitzpeh Lachish, near Nehogot outside Hebron. they could easily rain down rockets towards any city within Israel, leaving without defensible borders. We say no to land for false peace as we have seen in the past. By former President Barrack Hussein Obama who had a hidden agenda against Israel who will face many difficult challenges ahead (see Tehillim / See Psalms 83) As we have seen what happened with Gush Katif where almost 9,000 Jews were forced out of their own Jewish land due to US pressure, now Bet El Almuna and Migron and Judea and Samaria face the same threat. More than 17,000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since Israel uprooted 9,000 Jewish families. Over 11,000 were fired from Gaza towards the southern Israeli city of Sderot by Islamist extremist whose end-game is the total destruction of my people Israel. Hamas terrorists are supported by Iran and now Hamas has joined hands with Fatah. The Iranian Lebanese proxy Hezbollah who also operate in Syria are committed to the total destruction of Israel and has over 100,00 rockets aimed at Israel .Now Al Qaeda and ISIS who are operating in Syria Egypt and the Sinai Desert they will do anything in their power to destroy my people Israel and all Jews. Judea and Samaria (the heartland of Israel also known as the West Bank) face many challenges in the days to come as Abu Mazen will try to pressure the entire world and former US President Barrack Hussein Obama the UN the EU and the Quartet into giving more land for false peace. We saw what happened after the Oslo Accords were signed, dramatically increasing Islamic terror against Israel. Abu Mazen the fake Palestinian Authority leader approached the United Nations many times and has petitioned to be declared as a recognized nation within Israel's known borders. The time has come to tell the entire world the real truth about the enemies of Israel. We speak on the Quran using a Power Point video presentation. We have been aired on CNN, German TV, Finland TV, CCTV, China Al Jazera, Al Arabiya Turk TV and many radio stations on the current issues of Israel. Luden Centeno has a heart for his people Israel and will continue to inform the entire world the real truth as many News Media outlets throughout the world hold anti-Semitic views and won’t tell you the real truth. Centeno, a former police officer who studied Political Science at Temple University USA was born in the USA and currently lives in Jerusalem Israel, knowing karate and boxing having played semi-pro baseball. He has two children, a girl and a son, both born in Jerusalem. Centeno discovered in 2004 that there were possible Converso Marrano Jews from Spain whose ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism during the time of the Inquisition in 1492. The family names Centeno and Perez are registered in El Libro Verde De Aragon in Spain. The Roman Catholic Inquisitors maintained all the names of all Jewish families who were forced to convert to Catholicism during that horrible time period in Spain. Since 2004 Centeno has been flying intercontinentally to the USA speaking to the nations on the current issues of the the state of Israel (see Psalms 83′ as the nations gather against Israel.) He has spoken on Al Arabiya TV, Dubai TV, Holland TV, German TV and also on American Family Radio which links up with 700 radio stations. His goal is to educate the entire world that Israel has the right to self-determination and the right to defend itself from terrorism. The Moslem Arabs in that area started calling themselves “Palestinians” merely only 40 years ago. “Palestinian” refers to people who live in Palestine: Arabs (“Arabic speaking peoples”), Bedouins, Druze, Christians, and Jews lived in then the British Mandate of Palestine. No people or nation called Palestine ever ruled as a sovereign national entity on this land. There is no Palestinian language or culture in past history. Palestine, as a country does not presently exist. No Arab nation has their historical roots on the land and no one had laid claim to this territory other than the Jews. The Jewish rule of this land extended over a period of over 2000 years. Israel became a nation in the land in 1312 BC. God gave them the land in a covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20) and they lived there. See the following Quote from the Quran, "Death to the enemies of Allah! Those that make war against Allah and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter: except those that repent before you reduce them. For you must know that Allah is..." This is what radical Islam says about us Jews’ “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim) Psalms Chapter 83 תְּהִלִּים א שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף. 1 A Song, a Psalm of Asaph. ב אֱלֹהִים אַל-דֳּמִי-לָךְ; אַל-תֶּחֱרַשׁ וְאַל-תִּשְׁקֹט אֵל. 2 O God, keep not Thou silence; hold not Thy peace, and be not still, O God. ג כִּי-הִנֵּה אוֹיְבֶיךָ, יֶהֱמָיוּן; וּמְשַׂנְאֶיךָ, נָשְׂאוּ רֹאשׁ. 3 For, lo, Thine enemies are in an uproar; and they that hate Thee have lifted up the head. ד עַל-עַמְּךָ, יַעֲרִימוּ סוֹד; וְיִתְיָעֲצוּ, עַל-צְפוּנֶיךָ. 4 They hold crafty converse against Thy people, and take counsel against Thy treasured ones. ה אָמְרוּ–לְכוּ, וְנַכְחִידֵם מִגּוֹי; וְלֹא-יִזָּכֵר שֵׁם-יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד. 5 They have said: ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.’ ו כִּי נוֹעֲצוּ לֵב יַחְדָּו; עָלֶיךָ, בְּרִית יִכְרֹתוּ. 6 For they have consulted together with one consent; against Thee do they make a covenant; God’s word says in Zechariah 8:23 "Thus saith the LORD of Hosts: In Those days it shall come to pass, That ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

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