Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies 28th Annual Conference

Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies 28th Annual Conference

About SCJS

Founded in 1991, the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies is a global organization for those researching the history of the crypto-Judaic and Sephardic communities around the world. SCJS is a multi-disciplinary academic and secular association that fosters research, networking of people and ideas, and the exchange of information, among scholars and descendants of conversos, regarding the historical and contemporary developments involving crypto-Jews of Iberian origins and other hidden Jewish communities around the world.



Press Release: For Immediate Release                                                                          

Contact: Corinne Brown, Conference Chair


[email protected]       



Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies 28th Annual Conference June 30-July 2, 2019


Registration is now open for the SCJS annual conference, "Place and Identity: Redefining the Crypto-Judaic Experience in the Western Hemisphere" to be held June 30—July 2 at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton in Greenwood Village, (southeast Denver) 7801 East Orchard Road.

Conference panels will feature independent researchers, writers, historians, genealogists, authors, and descendants of Iberian Jews. This year marks the inauguration of the Stanley M. Hordes Distinguished Scholar Lecture, an honor bestowed upon a scholar whose contribution to advancing the field of crypto-Judaic studies has been exemplary.(Recipient- Dr. David Gitlitz, PhD)

This year, SCJS proudly welcomes keynote speaker, former Life magazine journalist Jeff Wheelwright, who, in 2008, wrote the pivotal article for the Smithsonian Magazine, the "Secret of the San Luis Valley," followed by his book, "The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess." His work focused on the discovery of the BRCA gene found in women in southwestern Colorado, shedding new light on the ancestry and heritage of this secluded community.

Following a genealogy workshop on Sunday led by renowned descendant Genie Milgrom and genealogist Schelly Talaly Dardashti, a cocktail reception will feature the talents of Lorenzo Trujillo and the Southwest Musicians. The opening dinner welcomes special guest Jose Luis Parrado, Consul of Spain for Colorado, among others.

Sunday night's prize-winning play, "Conviction," stars Ami Dayan, a master dramatist from Boulder who plays nine roles in this compelling story about faith, love and persecution. Monday's midday Martin-Sosin Address for Advancement in the Arts features nationally recognized composer David Wohl in a multi-artist, original presentation dedicated to the Iberian expulsion. Monday night, enjoy Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe performing Sephardi, Mizrachi and Ladino music.

The conference concludes Tuesday afternoon. Registration includes four meals, the cocktail reception, snacks and arts events. Kosher meals and day rates available. Group rates extended prior to and after the conference duration.

Persons referred to as "crypto" or " hidden Jews" are those who maintained a secret adherence to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith. This term is especially applied to Spanish Jews in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries who outwardly professed Catholicism in order to survive persecution during and following the Spanish Inquisition in the Old World and the new. Research has recorded many narratives about the survival of “crypto-Jewish” family practices and traditions in the greater Southwest and Borderlands. Many families from New Mexico and Colorado are now seeking their roots in these areas. Some refer to themselves as Sephardim or Sefardita, also as Sephardic, or anusim, a Hebrew word meaning children of the forced ones, and now also, returnees.

This remarkable story of Jewish heritage secretly passed down through the centuries in Spanish Catholic countries is a verified part of Mexican and New Mexican ancestry. Church and military records and DNA studies suggest that one-in-five of all Spanish colonialists in New Spain were of Jewish descent. Their descendants today number in the millions;Colorado/New Mexico alone estimate easily boasts 500,000. From a health or genetic standpoint, it is of some importance, based on certain genetic mutations exclusive to certain Iberian haplo-groups. In terms of traditions or customs, it's equally intriguing, and might be of help explaining many family practices.

With thanks to the Sosin-Petit Foundation, the Mizel Museum, Museo de Las Americas, and Theatre Or of Denver, as well as Gaon Books and Film and Temple Aaron, Trinidad for their support.  For more information and to register, go to or write to [email protected].


Note* The SCJS is a secular and academic group founded in 1991dedicated to the research of the historical and contemporary development of crypto-Jews of Iberian origin. Anyone is invited to attend the conference, whether a member of SCJS or not.