Jerusalem (Aug. 1)
The application of the Portugese Marranos to the Chief Rabbinate of Palestine for permitting them to return to the fold of Jewish religion was made in a letter dated Lisbon, June 25 and represents a unique document in the history of the Jewish people.
“Most of the Marranos,” the letter states, “are farmers.” The rest are professional men, including doctors of medicine, lawyers and scholars. Very few of them are merchants or industrialists.” The baptism of our forbears,” it proceeds, “was only pretended because of the terror of the Inquisition and the Auto-da-fe. In the depths of our hearts, however, we, their decendants, have maintained our love and our loyalty to our Jewish people. We marry only among ourselves and even if we are baptised as children in Catholic churches, are married according to Catholic rates and are laid in our graves as Catholics, we feel ourselves Jews more than ever/ In the course of the centuries we have lived under the pressure of clericalism, cut off from every communication with Jews. The Jewish laws have become strange to us. By certain phases of the moon we know when it is Yom Kippur, which we observe devoutly according to the commands which have been handed down by tradition. It pains us that we do not understand the words of the Hebrew commands. We Marranos never cease to speak of our return to Jerusalem. We speak of it with our children and we believe in it firmly. We take the most joyful interest in the present reconstruction work of our Jewish brethren in the land of our fathers.
The spirit of liberty for all peoples and nations which is now passing through the world, the breaking of the old chains by modern civilisation has led the leading personalities among the Marranos to believe that there is no longer any reason why they should continue to hide their feelings and thoughts under a mask. The spirit of toleration and modern culture is dominant today in Portugal, and the Marranos wish to avow themselves openly as sons of the ancient Jewish people, to which they have never ceased to belong with heart and soul/ Many of us have already applied to the Jewish community in Lisbon, which, however, for political reasons, has been reserved with regard to our desire to return to Judaism. The term “Marranos” we feel describes a condition of hypocritical make-belief and cowardly insincerity. We wish to participate openly and honestly in the lot of our people throughout the world, for we belong to it by blood, race and spiritual life, ” the letter concludes/