Now, I get it. There’s a large segment of the American population that feels like many of the fundamental aspects of their lives are under attack. The National Anthem, guns, Confederate history and now Columbus Day!
I’m not just saying that either. I really do understand, for a lot of Americans these things represent some of the intricacies of what comprises American culture.
In this regard, I don’t have to necessarily agree with everyone over what it means to be an American, however, I can still respect the fact that these things are indeed important to other’s view of their national identity. With that said, I will respectfully ask people to consider that the United States of America, since its introduction, has been a nation built on a convergence of cultural, ethnic, and national beliefs.
A melting pot if you will.
Therefore, just as I can consider how some attributes may be important to you, this doesn’t mean these same qualities aren’t equally as significant to others for completely different reasons.
For example, you can note that my ancestry, like Columbus, involves a little voyage out of Spain in 1492 as well. Of course, ours would be a tad different, since it came about on March 31, 1492, with the Alhambra Decree. This decree ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Spain by August 2, 1492.
Some people have said that the modern criticisms of Columbus Day, represents an attempt to erase history. Proponents of Columbus Day have also said that the critics fail to examine Christopher Columbus' actions through the lens of the moral and ethical principles of the day.
Now to the people who are stressed out at the thought of having their history being altered or even completely erased I say…
Welcome to the club. Here, let me grab you a seat…
I previously expressed that my Jewish ancestors sailed out of Spanish ports in 1492, just like Christopher Columbus… Now, I meant that very literally.
See, Christopher Columbus was also likely a Jew...
On March 32, 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella proclaimed that all Jews were to be expelled from Spain. The Jews had become the target (once again) of fanatical religious persecution and some 800,000 Spanish Jews had 4 months to pack up and leave. There were segments of Spanish Jews who didn't leave. Rather, they outwardly practiced Catholicism, while covertly practicing Judaism. The Spanish called these covert Jews, “Marranos,” or swine.
Like much of Christopher Columbus’ biographical history, many of the truths have been altered in favor of myths. I’m not just referring to Washington Irving’s 1828 book that portrayed much of the fictional aspects attributed to Columbus. Rather, even more recently, some truths were completely overlooked by the public in mass.
In 2012, a large number of Spanish scholars, including Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, all publicly came out and stated they had concluded that Columbus was a “Marrano,” or a covert Jew.
For anyone willing to look, the evidence for Columbus’ Jewishness, isn’t all that hard to see. In his last will and testament, Columbus stated in one of his wishes that a Tithe or 10% of his total net worth was to be donated to the poor and provide an anonymous dowry for poor girls.
The concept of giving Tithe or 10% of one’s income to the church may seem like a pretty normal Christian thing to do nowadays. However, that is a fairly recent adaptation by Protestant Christian churches. In fact, the concept of giving 10% or Tithing is inherently an exclusive to Jediusm and Sikhism. This is outlined in the Torah in Numbers 18.26.
Essentially, when Columbus gave exactly 10% to a charity he did so when this was exclusively a Jewish concept.
Christopher Columbus also specifically outlined that some of his fortunes were to be left to a Jew who lived at the entrance of the Lisbon Jewish Quarter. Lastly, Columbus left money to support a crusade he hoped his successors would take up to liberate Jerusalem.
Additionally, Columbus' personal signature was a triangular symbol of dots and letters. He ordered his heirs to use this signature in perpetuity. The specific symbol Columbus inscribed on those documents was a cryptic anagram used by Spanish covert Jews and it has significance in the Jewish mystical school of thought, Kabbalah.
Even more evidence for Christopher Columbus being a Jew was presented by Georgetown University linguistics professor, Estelle Irizarry. Irizarry studied and analyzed the language and syntax of hundreds of handwritten letters, diaries, and documents of Columbus. The professor concluded that Christopher Columbus’ primary written and spoken language was Castilian Spanish. In the 15th Century, Castilian Spanish was the “Yiddish” of Spanish Jewry.
Of course, we could probably save a lot of time in this debate over Columbus’ Jewish roots if we just looked at the 12 letters he wrote to his son Diego. On those letters in the top left-hand corner, Columbus wrote in Sephardic cursive Hebrew letters “Bet-Hey,” which stood for B’ezrat HaShem or “With God’s help.”
Now if that isn’t enough for you to go ahead and pour Christopher Columbus’ a glass of Manischewitz and toast L’Chaim, there's more.
Columbus was originally supposed to set sail on his famed first voyage on August 2, 1492. Ironically, this was the final day that all Jews had to have converted to Catholicism or be out of Spain. However, for Jews, August 2, 1492, also held another tragic significance.
Five-hundred and fifty-two years ago, on the Hebrew calendar, August 2nd fell on the Tisha B’Av or “the ninth of Av.” This is the saddest day of the year for Jews as it marks the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.
Essentially, Tisha B’Av is the eternal international Jewish day of suck.
Supposedly both Temples were destroyed; the Jews were kicked out of England in 1290; France in 1306; of course Spain in 1492; Nazi SS Commander Heinrich Himmler approved the plans and began the “Final Solution” to exterminate the Jews in 1941… all on Tisha B’Av.
However, Columbus postponed the start of his voyage until the evening of August 3, 1492. It is vital to point out that he set off for his voyage in the evening of August 3rd because the Hebrew calendar is lunar. The new day starts at sundown and not midnight like the Gregorian calendar we all use today.
When Columbus departed from Palos de la Frontera on August 3rd, among his crew of three ships, it has been noted were Jews. In fact, on October 28, 1492, when the ships came to the shores of Cuba, Columbus sent two-men on a small boat to scout the island, Rodrigo de Jerez, and Luis de Torres.
Luis de Torres’s real name was actually Yosef bn HaLevi HaIvri, a Jew hired by Columbus as the voyages interpreter because he could speak Portuguese, Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic. Remarkably, abnormal for the time, Columbus had no Catholic priest on any of his ships. However, he had a Hebrew interpreter.
Finally, it is widely accepted that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain financed the explorer’s voyages to the New World. However, the first two letters Columbus sent back from his journey were to Louis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez. Columbus thanked them for their support and told them what he had discovered. Both men had advanced Columbus an interest free loan of 17,000 ducats from their own pockets. Both men were also Jews. The famous Portuguese Rabbi and Jewish Statesman Isaac Abarbanel also helped finance Columbus’ first voyage.
In Simon Weisenthal’s book, “Sails of Hope,” he provides a host of evidence to argue that Columbus’ voyage had nothing to do with finding an alternative route to the East Indies. His journey was motivated by a desire to find a safe haven for the Jews in light of their expulsion from Spain. Stanford cultural anthropologist, Carol Delaney supports this claim, saying Columbus was actually motivated to find gold in order to finance a crusade to take back Jerusalem and rebuild the Jewish Holy Temple.
At the end of the day, whether Christopher Columbus was definitely Jewish or not is something that cannot be conclusively proven.
He was said to be of Italian origin, yet it is undisputed by scholars that he didn’t even speak Italian. The reality is there is no general mainstream acceptance of where Columbus was actually from. Jewish ancestral lineage has been successfully linked to Columbus’ father Domenico Colombo. However, there is no history of his mother, Susanna Fontanarossa's past. A point that some use to demonstrate she was likely a Jew.
It also isn’t even ambiguous and instead it is very well documented that the man’s real name wasn’t even Christopher Columbus. Rather, he always signed his name Cristobal Colon.
Interestingly, there are many Jews today who will argue against the abundance of circumstantial evidence that suggests Columbus was a Jew. In fact, the distinctly left-biased Jewish publication “Forward,” published an op-ed yesterday which amounted to a literary tantrum, declaring Christopher Columbus was not definitely Jewish. The writer’s evidence to support this claim was simple. As Viceroy and Governor of the West Indies, it has been well noted that Columbus was tyrannical and violent; using torture and mutilation to govern Hispaniola. According to the op-ed's author, this behavior was very un-Jewish; therefore Columbus couldn’t be a Jew.
I hate to break it to the author, but the entire Biblical basis behind why the Jews were exiled in the first place was based on very un-Jewish behavior.
Ultimately, while many people across America complain about losing portions of their American identity, such as Columbus Day… again I say welcome to the club.
Although, there is a host of evidence that concludes Columbus was a Sephardic Jew, just like me. The fact no one knows for sure doesn’t come from revisionist history. Rather, it comes from the fact that had Columbus been known to have been a Jew, Columbus Day would never even exist.
Most likely Christopher Columbus had to hide the fact he was a Jew because the ethnicity he was born would have placed his life in danger. Instead, he had to hide his identity and change his name to sound very un-Jewish. A surname like Colen, Colombo, Columbus, or maybe even something like McMillan had his family headed towards Ireland or Scotland to hide out.
In fact, as a Spanish Jew, Columbus would be from the Jewish ethnic division called Sephardi, or Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. We comprise only 15% of the world’s Jewish population today. In America, we are only 3%.
Sephardi Jews can be found in a range of colors and sizes and often look nothing like what most people would consider people who are “Jewish.” Most people might be surprised to learn that a great majority of dark-skinned people in the Caribbean have ancestral and genetic linage to Sephardi Jews; another, tip of the hat that may have something to do with Christopher Columbus.
In conclusion, while people across America may feel upset at the prospect that it seems as if some are trying to erase their heritage and culture… well, all I ask you to do is maybe for just one moment stop and consider that some people actually just might be trying to get their heritage back.