Helping them back to Judaism


Almost 60% of Israelis are in favor of government help for descendants of Spanish Marranos seeking to return to Judaism, a new poll has found. The survey, commissioned by the Jerusalem-based Amishav organization, which conducts outreach work to "lost Jews," revealed that 59% of Israelis are in favor of helping Marrano descendants who wish to return to the Jewish people, while 24% are opposed. "This is the first time, as far as we know," said Amishav Director Michael Freund, "that anyone has sought to gauge what the Israeli public thinks about reaching out to the descendants of Spanish Jewry who were forcibly converted over 500 years ago."

The poll, carried out by Smith Research and Consulting, asked whether the State of Israel should help Marrano descendants, also known as Anusim, "return to Judaism and the Jewish Nation." Amishav runs a Spanish-language conversion and return institute in Jerusalem, where some 50 students, many of them descendants of Marranos, study annually. Upon completion of the course, graduates undergo formal conversion by Israel's Chief Rabbinate.