The Marranos of Spain and Portugal
Religious persecution throughout Spain in the 15th century caused many Jews to convert.
They became known as Marranos, conversos (new converts) and christianos nuevos (new Christians).
After the expulsion from Spain in 1492 many Jews moved to Portugal, but a decree passed about 100
years later by King Manuel of Portugal ordered the expulsion of Jews from this country as well within
a period of 11 months, while many families were forcibly baptized and converted to Christianity.
The Marranos were, in general, divided into three groups:
those who converted willingly;
those who felt some connection to Judaism but made no effort to leave their land in order
to return to the complete observance of Judaism;
and those who remained true to their origins and secretly observed all Jewish commandments.
Today there is a small percentage of Marrano descendants who are interested in learning about
their Jewish past and Judaism, and even returning to Judaism. Some wish to be affiliated with a
synagogue, and some are interested in coming to live in Israel.