Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I wish...

I was independently wealthy and could afford to travel and study all the time. Oh, how wonderful that would be. The things I would see and learn. I was listening to NPR yesterday and there was an interview with a woman who was talking about the Sarajevo Haggadah, an old Sephardic book that is an illustrated text of the Passover Haggadah. This book has been spared from tragedy after tragedy throughout the years. Its history seems to be truly amazing.

According to the woman interviewed Hitler knew about the book and wanted it for the museum he dreamt about building in Prague, dedicated to the Jewish people, whom he was carefully and strategically planning to eliminate. It sickens me to think of all the things the Nazi's stole from the Jews they were exterminating to keep as mementos from their attrocities. Thank God the book was carefully removed and hidden away from the Nazi's.

Image from here at Wikipedia.

Fast forward to the present. Knowing this book is Sephardic in origin, it is even more fascinating to me learn about. One day I want to trace my ancestry back to Spain, what wonders might I discover. I think I'd be disappointed to find out that I don't have any Sephardic ancestry, not that I'd convert to Judaism if I was. While, I don't know for sure, part of me feels like at one time my people were Jewish, by just hearing stories, knowing NM history and discovering common threads that run through all the old families of NM. I'm willing to open my mind to that possibility. It would make sense as to why my family came to America and didn't stay in Spain.

There have been families who have known they are/were Sephardic and never really acted like it was a surprise when it was discovered that many of the old families have Sephardic ancestry. There are others who were just shocked to learn that they might actually be of Sephardic Jewish descent. I suspect there is a bit of anti-semitism that has lingered because of those reactions, though I'd really not want to toss out such random and baseless accusations. I also believe that there are quite a few people who had no clue it was even a possiblity that NM's first settlers could have been Sephardic. My grandparents were long gone before I ever could have asked them if they thought we had Sephardic ancestry. Quite honestly, there are few people left to ask in my family about anything. I need to make my mom and aunts sit down to try to compile all they know.

But, as for now, it's all just a big mystery and one day one I hope to unravel. If not, I can write about it in fiction. Fiction is usually always much more interesting.

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