Divided by a Common Faith

If there’s one thing that separates humans from the other animals, I’d say it’s our immense talent for creating divisions among ourselves. Of creating an “us” vs. a “them.” Of tribalism.

Jews, I’m sorry to say, are no different.

Shande.

Evidence from the Jewish cemetery of Oudekerk and in the local Sephardic records show people of African descent were part of the Portuguese Jewish community. Some were slaves, others as servants and some were free. All were Jews. But none were given the dignity they deserved.

Five reasons to like vampires

People are always* asking me, “Why do you like vampires so much.” I admit, I’m sometimes embarrassed by the question. I know it’s often thought to be the realm of angsty teenage girls. And if you’re demanding my honesty, that’s when I first became enamored of them myself.

An origin story in old Amsterdam

If it seems strange that a group of Jews from Portugal wound up in Amsterdam in the 1600s, it helps to understand what started in Spain a little more than a hundred years earlier. In 1478, a Dominican friar convinced Queen Isabella of Spain that Jews who had converted to Christianity were still secretly practicing their old beliefs. The queen and King Ferdinand petitioned Pope Sixtus IV to start an inquisition.