Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit organization, released an e-book to help reclaim the potentially millions of descendants of Jews forcibly converted to Christianity before the Spanish Inquisition hundreds of years ago.
Entitled "Do You Have Jewish Roots?" or, in Portuguese, "Tiene Usted Raices Judias?" the free 109-page e-book was released in furtherance of Shavei Israel's outreach work in identifying "lost Jews" across the globe, according to its website.
"Crypto-Jew" is the term given to those Jewish people who underwent compulsory conversion. A more familiar term, Marrano, is actually a derogatory word meaning "pig," identified by breakingisraelnews.com.
During the late 1400s, Spain forced its Jews to either convert to Catholicism or leave the country; Portugal narrowed the decision to conversion or death, jewishvoiceny.com states.
Although the conversions occurred long ago, founder and director of Shavei Israel, Michael Freund, believes that the e-book can make a very large impact on world Jewry.
“We believe that the total number [of descendants] exceeds tens of millions of people," Freund said in an interview. "Their self-discovery as Jews can greatly impact and enrich the international Jewish community…and we are thrilled with the outpouring of interest, especially at a time when we are witnessing a resurgence in European anti-Semitism."
In fact, it is reported that the return of Crypto-Jews to Judaism could even double the number of Jews in the world.
Co-written by Freund and Shavei's organizational director, Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum, the e-book is intended to be a practical guide for people in Brazil, Portugal, Spain and beyond to uncover, and discover, their religious heritage.
According to Shavei's website, the Spanish translation of the book has gone viral, already downloaded over 10,000 times in the first week alone. Within the first two months, it had reached 30,000 downloads, according to breakingisraelnews.com.
And its impact may be felt for generations to come. As Freund told news, “There are millions of non-Jews with Jewish ancestry. In many cases, their ancestors were torn away from us against their will, yet they bravely sought to preserve a connection to the Jewish people. We owe it to them and to their ancestors to re-engage them and strengthen their bond with our people.”
The Portugese version of the e-book can be accessed for free here
For more information on Shavei Israel’s campaign and outreach work, such as aiding the Jewish community in India after a recent earthquake