To write The Naomi Chronicles Saga researching what befell the Spanish Jews prior to and during the Spanish and Mexican Inquisitions was necessary. Though living in our time, what befell Naomi's people (the Sephardim) impacted her life and caused her to believe that she had 'No Other Choice'. If you love hidden history, I know you'll enjoy the three Sephardic interviews posted today for each women's journey of discovering that they were not who they thought they were is a unique read. When you realize this generation lack of knowledge began with the need to hide because The Decree of Alhambra was enforced by death until it was nullified on March 31, 1992, I think your heart will resonate with the telling.
I was born in 1929 and raised in downtown Los Angeles. My religious training was in the Catholic Church, as all in our family had done for years. In 1984, my son David, who had research our history, told me that we are Jewish. I paid no attention to him. In 1974, I found myself drawn to Jewish things. When my grandmother died, my mother showed me her baptismal certificate. I noticed that her godmother’s last name was Gold. I asked my mother about that, as Gold is a very unusual last name for a Spanish person to have because godparents are usually family members. She told me that her cousin had told her when she was a child that they were Jews but not to tell anyone. It was then I remembered my grandfather singing in a strange language out by the chicken coops, and my mother saying, “He sings like a cantor!”
The realization that we were not what we seemed or were taught to be gave me a hunger to know more. Since then I have invested my time and energy to learn all I can about my Jewish roots. That investigation has made me aware of the charges the Inquisitor made against my family, revealed the possibility that they may have come over with Columbus, and the knowledge that they settled in what is now the southwestern United States. Today, through much work on behalf of my family, I have acquired the documents to prove what I am saying. Were it not for the Decree of Alhambra and the Spanish Inquisition, we would still be in Spain, but due to that decree and its effects upon my family and the Jews still hiding, I am willing to state that what man meant for evil, God used for good! For in Messiah Yeshua, I have found my Jewish Messiah and have been able to own who I am as both a Jew and a believer in my Kinsman Redeemer. —At seventy-four, Corrine Ehrick began to worship as a Sephardic Messianic believer.
When I was in my early twenties, my parents took me on a trip to visit relatives in Saltillo, Mexico, where my grandfather Miguel Narro was born and raised. They were rich and very Catholic. They had disowned my grandfather when he accepted Yeshua as his Savior and became a Protestant pastor. Many years later, my great-aunt Rosario (Rosary) confided to my mother that there had been two rabbis in the Narro family. After that, my mother wore a Star of David that she had bought. She told my son John David that we were Jewish. My grandfather refused to eat pork, but we never knew why. No one ever talked about our Jewish heritage. However, now I know that some believed we were Jewish and other family members denied it. My father, David Alcala, most likely had Jewish ancestry also since Alcala is a Sephardic Jewish name. My great-grandfather, Ambrosio Alcala, was born in Alcala de Henares, a city in Spain that had an imposing Jewish presence and two synagogues. —Elizabeth Alcala-Narro Bennett is a Sephardic Jew whose children bring the gospel to those in Spain. She worships at a Messianic congregation.
There was a stirring in my heart to follow my mother’s influence and learn about the Jewish people. I remember my fourth grade class in parochial school, where Sister Demetrius instilled within us the fact that the Jews did not kill Christ, but it was our sins that put him on the cross. Between my schooling and Mom’s love for the Jewish heritage, there was birthed within me tenderness toward the Jewish people. As I reached what some would call middle age, this stirring intensified until I needed to know more. For years, I told people that I was Basque. However, I never went to the town whose name I bore. Then I met a woman whose son was a missionary in Spain. I asked him if he could take me to Ulibarri and he agreed. In 2008, I made the trip to Spain. We traveled throughout the Navarra region until I finally stepped onto the soil that had been home to my family centuries before. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was a strong Jewish presence in that region. Could my mother have been trying to tell me something all those years ago? I will never know for sure. However, my journey of the heart allowed me to look at my heritage and history with new eyes. When I returned home, I told my children, “We have a Jewish heritage.” They rolled their eyes. Months later, my son called and said, “I was waiting for the metro and was approached by a scholarly man who looked at my badge, which identifies me by my last name. He read ‘Mireles’ and asked me if I knew about my name and my heritage. I was able to give him the information you had shared with us. I was stunned when he gave me additional information, which proved to me that what you had said was correct! I called you, and I told my brothers and sisters that what you had said was true.” —Janice Mireles-Ulibarri has been involved in Messianic Worship since 1999. She served as a volunteer in the Israeli army in 1999.
Author, Paula Rose Michelson
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