6 Facts About Jewish New Mex­ico

Forward Magazine - - Arts & Culture -

1. New Mex­ico is home to many of the last crypto-Jews, who claim that their an­ces­tors fled to Mex­ico dur­ing the Span­ish In­qui­si­tion to es­cape per­se­cu­tion. Over the gen­er­a­tions, these Jews were forced to prac­tice their Ju­daism se­cretly, and today, re­tain in many cases only sug­ges­tive prac­tices — such as light­ing can­dles on Fri­day nights, re­frain­ing from eat­ing pork, or keep­ing the Sab­bath. 2. In 1881, the Jewish Com­mu­nity of Las Ve­gas, New Mex­ico, built the Mon­te­fiore Ceme­tery, one of the first Jewish ceme­ter­ies west of the Mis­sis­sippi. 3. In 1884, the lo­cal com­mu­nity or­ga­nized the first Jewish con­gre­ga­tion in New Mex­ico, Con­gre­ga­tion Mon­te­fiore, build­ing a tem­ple two years later. The Re­form con­gre­ga­tion is named af­ter the world fa­mous Bri­tish phi­lan­thropist,

Sir Moses Mon­te­fiore. 4. On Passover, ac­cord­ing to Hadas­sah Magazine, some Jews here add green chili to their matzo brei. 5. At the age of 18, Charles Ilfeld ar­rived in Santa Fe from Bad Hom­burg, Ger­many. He emerged as a new pi­o­neer, build­ing a for­mi­da­ble mer­can­tile em­po­rium, the Charles Ilfeld Com­pany, and be­com­ing an ex­em­plary mem­ber of New Mex­ico so­ci­ety. His com­pany lasted through the 1950s. 6. Son of a Jewish tex­tile man­u­fac­turer, Fa­ther of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Op­pen­heimer, lived on a New Mex­ico ranch be­fore he be­gan work at the Los Alamos lab­o­ra­tory. The first atomic bomb test was con­ducted in the desert, south­west of Soc­coro, New Mex­ico.



In the New Mex­ico Desert: J. Robert Op­pen­heimer (third from left, wear­ing hat) dis­cusses the first test of the atomic bomb with fel­low sci­en­tists.

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