A History of the Jews in New Mexico by Henry J. Tobias

By Henry J. Tobias

In this primary heritage of the Jews in New Mexico--from the colonial interval to the current day--the writer constantly ties the Jewish adventure to the evolution of the societies within which they lived and labored. The booklet starts off with one of many least identified yet so much interesting points of recent Mexico Jewry--the crypto-Jews who got here north to flee the Mexican Inquisition. within the 19th and 20th centuries, the tale is extra typical: German retailers settling in Las Vegas and Santa Fe after which coming to Albuquerque after the railroad arrived. to those debts the writer provides enormous nuance and element, quite at the position of Jews in smaller groups similar to Roswell and Las Cruces in addition to their social lifestyles and non secular perform in a frontier quarter.

The dialogue of the 20th century concentration rather at the dynamics of Jewish improvement, and the ways that that approach differed in New Mexico.

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In more recent times, the much larger population and the existence of institutions which generate mass information allow a less anecdotal and personal approach and require a presentation based on analysis and conclusion drawn from the plenitude of data available. Some persons may be put off by this partial shift in description. They may find biography intrinsically more interesting than the statistical accounts of mass change. Given the difference between the sizes of the population a century ago and now, one can easily see that anecdotal treatment of recent times would tell far less about the community as a whole than it would have when there were only a handful of persons.

Social forms and pressures might arouse the curious concerned with religious identity, but evasion, if one wished to practice it, was not difficult, and records requiring statement of religious identity were nonexistent. One must also note that for a long time after the Anglos came to New Mexico there were no institutional structures around which Jews gathered and could be known. The problem of identifying Jews involves two important questions for the researcher. The first revolves around the quantitative issue of numbers and location.

2 The problems encountered by Blake to learn about themwere formidable. Beyond the obstacles posed by secrecy and thedifficulty of establishing documentation, lay the issues of relevant interest and accessibility. " Traditional Hispanic society and its problems with outsiders were (and are) sensitive matters in New Mexico. Religious and economic issues within Hispanic society at times make potential informants reluctant to reveal themselves. ''Many descendants fear that their land grants would be open to question," she reported, "if it were established that the ancestors to whom the grants were made were Jews, and therefore held illegally.

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