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Long-Lost Diary of Tortured 'Converso' Jew in 16th-Century Mexico Found

Penny Schwartz - The Times of Israel
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January 27, 2017
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An inset of the autobiographical manuscripts of Luis de Carvajal the Younger, circa 1595, with devotional manuscripts. (Government of Mexico)

In the closing years of the 16th century, as the Holy Inquisition reached across the ocean to Spanish and Portuguese territories, Luis de Carvajal the Younger was put on trial by the Mexican Inquisition, suspected of being a Jew. The Spanish-born de Carvajal (1567–1596) was from a family of “converso” Jews who had converted to Catholicism. He was living in Mexico, where his uncle served as the governor of Leon.

Under torture, de Carvajal betrayed more than 120 people who continued to practice their faith in secret. He and many of his family were burned at the stake.

Long a familiar name to scholars, de Carvajal kept a meticulously written diary, penned under the pseudonym Joseph Lumbroso. While there were some transcriptions, the original diary disappeared in 1939 from the National Archives of Mexico.

Earlier this year, though, a keen-eyed collector spotted the de Carvajal diary at auction and helped orchestrate its return.

Now, for the first time in more than 75 years, the newly recovered memoir — measuring only four inches by three inches — along with other de Carvajal religious manuscripts, are on view as part of “The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World,” a stunning and eye-opening exhibit that runs through February 26, 2017, at the New-York Historical Society.

Read the rest at The Times of Israel

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