History •  Jewish Studies •  Latin America and Religion

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Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews

David Gitlitz

This important history documents the religious customs of the crypto-Jewish culture in Spain, Portugal, and their American colonies, principally Mexico, Peru, and Brazil. In coping with clandestineness, crypto-Jews rapidly evolved their own idiosyncratic religion. Its Jewish core was quickly replaced with concepts and practices from the surrounding Catholic culture covered by a veneer of Jewish theology. Included in this award-winning volume are examinations of crypto-Jewish beliefs, superstitions, birth customs, education, marriage and sex, holidays, dietary laws, conversions and death, and burial practices. Secrecy and Deceit provides a comprehensive account of the customs of these secret Jews.

"Secrecy and Deceit provides rare glimpses into a subject that is increasingly fascinating to many different audiences."--Jane S. Gerber, Director, Institute for Sephardic Studies, CUNY Graduate Center

"Historians and students of comparative and popular religion will be drawing on this work for years."--Haym Soloveitchik, Yeshiva University
Winner of the National Jewish Book Award and the Lucy B. Davidowicz History Award


David M. Gitlitz, of the University of Rhode Island, is a scholar-administrator who over the last two decades has divided his time among research on Sephardic historical topics, Spanish Golden Age literature, pilgrimage studies, and university administration and teaching.


"His scholarship is massive and his book is both easily manageable and thorough."


Lettre Sépharade

"Gitlitz's magnum opus provides a full fascinating history of the quixotic religion developed by the Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism in early modern Spain."


Book News, Inc.

". . . this book is thoroughly researched, the author having utilized Inquisition records, chronicles, rabbinical rulings, correspondence, eyewitness accounts, religious manuals, and other historical documents. This book is highly recommended for those interested in the history of the Iberian Jews."


Colonial Latin American Historical Review

" Secrecy and Deceit is a carefully researched, dense, and thorough historical record of the crypto-Jews."


Outlook, Canada

7 x 10 in. 704 pages 1 map