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I Am Ready to Return: Reconnecting with Sephardic Ancestry 2012-01-23

Reclaiming Jewish faith

In a recollection by Cynthia Bejarano Saunders, she relates how the recovery of her hidden Sephardic heritage began from the origins of her mother's name and the survival of remnant Jewish practices. Her mother had been practicing Sephardic traditions rooted in crypto-Jewish history all her life, without knowing the origin of these rituals.

In her words, "Sephardic practices include the making of pan de semita (Semitic bread), capirotada during Passover and empanamitas during The Fast of Esther (Purim.) In my mother's upbringing her family drained the blood out of animals, were discouraged from eating pork and also eggs with blood spots in them. They covered their mirrors after relatives died and widows wore black for an entire year after the death of a spouse. Women often took baths in rivers and streams, a customary mikvah-like ritual, swept rooms from corner to center, and celebrated a crypto-Jewish version of Chanukah…"

These clues led her to embark on a Jewish journey by delving into what it means to be a Jew and subsequently studying Judaism.

For the full story by Cynthia Bejarano Saunders's -  as published in HaLapid in Spring, 2008

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