The Marranos

The Marranos

The forced conversion of a quarter-million Jews in Spain was, in spiritual terms, a Holocaust never equaled in the long exile of the Jewish people. Even under the worst of circumstances of assimilation it never matched the finality of conversion.

At the heart of the tragedy were the Marranos. These were Jews who had officially converted to Christianity but saw themselves as Jews and practiced Judaism in secret as much as they could. Most Marranos never left Spain and became full-fledged Christians within 50-60 years. Even though Jewish customs were preserved in Marrano homes, sometimes even for centuries – e.g. lighting candles on Friday night or eating unleavened bread with the onset of spring — it was treated by later generations as nothing more than a mysterious family tradition. As far as religion was concerned, they were Catholic.

When expulsion order in Spain went into effect in 1492, many Jews fled across the border into Portugal. But then they were expelled from Portugal five years later. That decree was probably even more damaging to them than the original decree of expulsion from Spain because it indicated that this time the Inquisition-Church-Christian society was far more serious than anything previous.

Within the first 50 years after the expulsion, there was a steady exodus of Marranos from the Iberian Peninsula. However, they had a hard time mingling with their fellow Jews.

Even though the rabbis of times had decreed that Marranos be accepted and taken back into the community, Jews outside of Spain had very little sympathy for the Marranos. For many generations, people would not even marry into their families or treat them as Jewish — mostly out of resentment that when the moment of truth came they opted to convert rather than take upon themselves the privation of exile.

As a result, many Marranos formed their own communities and remained isolated. Either way, the reaction among the Jewish people was extremely negative toward the Marranos.


The establishment of the Jewish community in Poland, in the 1400s and early 1500s, formed the center for Ashkenazic Jewry. However, Sephardic Jewry, having been expelled from Spain, made for itself different homes throughout Europe and the Mediterranean basin.

Italy was a prime landing place. Even though it was nominally the most Catholic country in the world, Italy was divided into many small kingdoms. Compared to the Church in Spain, the Church in Italy was liberal. It was the time of the Medici and Borgias popes who, to put it bluntly, were not religious.

Many Marranos found a home in Italy. It was there that they were most accepted by the Jewish communities.

The most famous Jew to flee there was Don Isaac Abarbanel. His presence in Italy gave standing to the Spanish Jews, and even to the Marranos, who rose rapidly to positions of wealth and influence.

From the middle of the 1500s onward, the Italian-Jewish community was really a Spanish community. Nevertheless, around the same time the Abarbanel arrived, a great rabbi from Poland settled in the town of Padua, Rabbi Meir ben Isaac Katzenellenbogen. He had three ones: a rabbi, a banker and a merchant. They befriended Italian noblemen scattered among the fractured states of the Italian peninsula and created a base for Jewish life for the future.

Rabbi Katzenellenbogen and his sons fathered a great number of descendants. Similarly, there are hundreds of descendants of Don Isaac Abarbanel. These two great rabbis, more than anyone else, literally created the Italian-Jewish community and were the cement that held it together.

When the Marranos came to Italy they brought with them certain non-Jewish traits that wended their way into the greater Jewish community. For instance, the great synagogue in Florence, which was built during that time, resembles a church in terms of architecture. By contrast, the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam exhibits traditional Jewish-synagogue architecture. While in no way flamboyant on the outside, on the inside it has famed eastern mahogany imported from Brazil. Furthermore, great engineering went into it, as it was built on the canal and its foundation rests on wooden poles that allow it to move with the tide. Nevertheless, even though it is an historic building, it is not an impressive building from an architectural standpoint.

By contrast, the synagogue in Florence is a magnificent piece of Renaissance architecture. However, it greatly resembles the style found in non-Jewish houses of worship. The Marranos brought that with them.


The second place the Marranos came to was Asia Minor, which today includes Turkey, Greece and Salonika.

The Marranos actually followed the path of migration that Sephardic Jewry in general undertook after the expulsion from Spain. From Turkey, Greece and Salonika they eventually came to Syria and Aleppo.

The Jews came first to Constantinople (today Istanbul), meaning the Jews were back under the rule of the Muslims. The Muslims never gave them an easy time, but they never destroyed them either. It was not a comfortable exile, but it had less ups-and-downs than the Christian exile.

The founder of Turkish Jewry was Rabbi Elijah Mizrachi, famed for his super-commentary to Rashi on the Pentateuch. His family did not originate from the Spanish exile, but he rallied Spanish Jewry around him. When the Marranos came he was able to assimilate them into the Turkish community and they were accepted more than any other place in the world.

Rabbi Mizrachi was the central rabbinic figure and is regarded as the foundation of Turkish Jewry. He buttressed the Sephardic customs and liturgy, which became closer to the Arab liturgy than it had been in Spain, because the Jews now lived among the Arabs. Even though the Turks are not Arabs they dominated the Middle East and now Jewish dress, music and general outlook in life took on the trappings of the country they lived in.

There was also a large Jewish community in Salonika, one of the islands of Greece. That community would be completely destroyed by the Nazis in the Second World War when the 7,000 Jews there were sent to Auschwitz. Nevertheless, Jews had lived there for 400 years. They made a living in boating and fishing – so much so, that it was known among the non-Jews that one could not buy fish on the Sabbath. Even after the Nazi eliminated the Jews, that custom of no boats going in and out of the harbors remained in the non-Jewish community until very recently.

The Land of Israel

The third place that the Spanish Jews and Marranos attempted to escape to was the Land of Israel.

Even though very few Spanish Jews went to Israel, a few hundred families did. It is possible to trace the beginnings of a stronger Jewish presence in the Land of Israel, a presence that has constantly grown since that time until our times, to the Spanish expulsion.

The founder of the Jewish community in Jerusalem was the renowned Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura, the man who penned the seminal commentary to the Mishnah still used by everyone who studies it today. He was a Spanish Jew who went to Italy, to the town of Bartenura and then to Jerusalem. He was the rabbi there and set up the Sephardic community.

The second town that the Spanish Jews came to in the Land of Israel was Safed (Tzfas), situated in the hills not far from the Sea of Galilee. It is one of the four holy cities in the Land of Israel, according Kabbalistic tradition (Jewish mysticism). The others are Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberius.

As elsewhere, the Marranos came to Israel with the Spanish exiles. In the rabbinic literature of the times one can see over and over again the challenges that the presence of the Marranos brought with them.

It was at this time that, in order to differentiate themselves from the Marranos, that the Sephardim adopted a suffix to their name, the Hebrew letters samech and tet (“S” and “T” sounds respectively), which stood for Sephardi tahor, “pure Spanish Jew.” This suffix did not only serve to differentiate them from Ashkenazic Jews but from the Marranos. It was a statement saying in effect, “In this family, there were no Marranos.”

Other Places of Refuge

The Sephardim also escaped to the present-day countries of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, which are right across the Strait of Gibraltar at the southern tip of Spain. There had long been strong Sephardic communities there dating back to the eighth century. In fact, the Spanish Jewish community had originated there. Now, when they returned they rebuilt their communities. The refugees of Spain brought with them the wealth and traditions of Sephardic Jewry.

People like Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet (1326–1408), known by his acronym Rivash, and other great Spanish rabbis came to Morocco, setting the foundations for the Jewish communities there — communities that would stay intact until being driven out in the early 1950s. The Jews lived in Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca, Tunis and other cities.

Finally, some Spanish Jews ended up in Egypt. The leader of the Jewish community there was Rabbi David ibn Zimra, the Radvaz. He was the chief rabbi of Cairo and left over for posterity 3,000 legal decisions. He was also a diligent chronicler of the times and the turmoil that existed. However, this community very rapidly assimilated, taking on Egyptian dress and lifestyle.


In Europe, since the Netherlands belonged to Spain, it was natural for Spanish Jews to immigrate to Holland. The majority of the Jews who fled to Holland were Marranos and they became very wealthy.

More than any other European country, Holland has strong Jewish influences. The city of Amsterdam, with its magnificent canals (similar to Venice), was built by Jews, who made it into the largest port in Europe.

The Jews of the 1500s brought to Amsterdam trade and commerce. The famous Dutch East India Company, responsible for settling so much of what would become America, was financed and headed by Jews; even though they did not take a prominent public role they were the driving force behind it. Indeed, under Jewish influence Holland became a colonial world power, even though in terms of natural resources and population it had no right to be so.

The Jews were the patrons of the famous Dutch masters. That is why so much of the art of Holland is about Jewish subjects. Rembrandt’s portfolio, for instance, includes a surprising amount of works with Jewish subjects. He lived in the Jewish neighborhood and was supported by Jews. Many of his themes included lighting the Sabbath candles, the Jewish bride, the rabbi, biblical “Old Testament” scenes and the prophet Jeremiah. He and a number of other artists were preoccupied with Jewish themes. That is because Jews backed them.

The famous rabbi of Amsterdam in the late 1600s was Rabbi Tzvi Ashkenazi, a world-renowned genius, who had served in Europe beforehand.

Time Heals Wounds

Holland became a world power with the help of Jewish drive and ingenuity. This was mainly the result of the Spanish Jews who had fled Spain, and then the Marranos who followed afterward. Almost all of them officially resumed their observance and practice of Judaism openly. After a period of time they were integrated into the community.

Interestingly, among the things Jews brought to Amsterdam was religious tolerance. In the ancient library next to the Spanish-Portuguese library, in the rotunda, is a membership list from the 1600s. Next to each name is a code noting who was a Marrano and who was not. However, gradually after 50-60 years the code disappears. Everyone integrated.

We see from that how very hard it was for those Jews who gave up everything in Spain to act with complete equanimity toward those Jews who had caved into the pressure and converted. Nevertheless, time would heal the wounds.


His leadership and television interviews have gone trough out the world, Luden Centeno Perez of Spanish Converso Marano Jewish background who's ancestors came from Spain during the Inquisition .Uriel speaks on terror related issues concerning Israel 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. Luden has given close to 500 television interviews in Israel Jerusalem and broadcasts live from Jerusalem Israel on the radio.And once a month speaks to 147 nations via the USA radio. On his last 8 radio programs he has had over 500,00 listeners listening live from Jerusalem On one of our last video we had over 40,000 who watched live our video from Jerusalem. Our main goal is totell the world that Israel has the right to defend herself from any form of agression and terrorism that comes out of Ramallah and the occupied territories that belong to Israel. Israel faces many difficult challenges and dangers in the days and weeks and months to come mark my words see Psalms 83' . There is an unprecedented propaganda campaign initiated by the Arab League and many others 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 and many other countries have for more than 30 years resorted to a deliberate misinformation campaign. This propaganda campaign by the Arab League and many other nations – both in their own countries and for the last four 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 within and should give in to any presure imposed by the USA, the EU. the Quartet, nor the UN. The former Obama administration and others have been working behind the scenes to get many UN Resolution passed against Israel as we see here on 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 fake 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 Gush Katiff offered in the past. US President Barrack Hussein Obama had a hidden agenda against Israel and many other nations Israel will face many difficult days and months ahead (see Tehillim / Psalms 83) As we have seen what happened with Gush Katif where over 18,000 rockets have been fired towards Israel.Many 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 24,000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since Israel uprootedmore than 10,000 Jewish families. Over 24.000 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards the southern Israeli city of Sderot Ashkelon Tel Aviv 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. Now Al Qaeda and ISIS who are operating in Syria Egypt and the Sinai Desert 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 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 Palestinian Authority leader approached the United Nations in November 2012 and 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 Al Jazeera, Dubai TV, Holland TV, German TV Finland 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) A letter from leading rabbis here in Israel ? 'You will be remembered in the history of the Jewish people' "We are privileged to be seeing the rebuilding of Jerusalem," wrote the rabbis. "'Children play in its streets' (Zechariah 8:4) and we are confident in the fulfillment of all the prophecies. The United States is privileged to be one of the first nations to support the establishment of the State of Israel. US presidents have had the privilege of being at Israel's side and being a partner in the fulfillment of the vision of the prophets regarding the return to Zion and the establishment of the State of Israel." They continued, "We are confident that you will be remembered in the history of the Jewish people as one who stood at the forefront fearlessly. May it be His will that God's promise to Joshua (1:9) should be fulfilled in you: 'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go'—amen, amen." "With this recognition, we see the fulfillment of another step in the completion of the prophecy of Isaiah that the nations of the world will recognize the centrality of Jerusalem," said Rabbi Eliyahu. "'For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your vindication' (Isaiah 62:1). We hope that other enlightened and believing nations will follow in the footsteps of the United States." 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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