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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

Rabbi

The rabbi represents the many contributions and activities of the El Paso Jewish community, including the first Jewish congregation, the Mount Sinai Association, founded in 1887, and The Popular department store. The Schwartz family, Adolph and Maurice, opened The Popular in 1902 in Downtown El Paso, but it closed in 1995.

Many Jews immigrated to the New World during the Spanish Inquisition that persecuted the Jews for their religious beliefs. The governments of European countries, including Spain, ordered all Jews to convert to Christianity or be banished from their countries. Many traveled from Spain to New Spain and those who moved north into what is now Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Because practicing Judaism in New Spain (Mexico) was illegal, they continued in their old beliefs, under cover of Catholicism. These people were the crypto-Jews. Many of them spoke a Spanish dialect, so they were able to continue some Jewish customs in the privacy of their own homes, including the preference for goat meat over pork, keeping of the Sabbath on Saturday, eating tortillas (which are unleavened) during Passover, and playing with a toy that is common today among Mexican children that bears a striking similarity to a Dreidl.

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critical thinking
What would you do if your beliefs were made illegal by the government?

Related Links:

Southwest Jewish Archives
http://dizzy.library.arizona.edu/images/swja/swjalist.html

Atlantic Monthly article
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/12/ferry.htm

Read More, Learn More:

Weiner, Hollace Ava. c1999. Jewish stars in Texas: Rabbis and their work. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.