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Early Crypto-Jews, Conversos, and Marranos of Florida
December 20, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
On September 8, 1565, Spanish colonizers established the city of St. Augustine in Florida, making it the oldest continuously occupied European-founded settlement in the United States. New historical research has revealed that among its founders were the first Jews to step foot in America – but their mysterious status as Crypto-Jews, Marranos, Conversos, New Christians, and “Hidden Jews” has, until recently, obscured their true identities.
Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, founder and president of the St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society, will explore how the long-reaching arm of the Spanish Inquisition invaded even the United States, and shed light on how historians and scholars have painstakingly uncovered the truth about the first Jews in America.
This is a free, virtual lecture.
About the speaker: Rabbi Merrill Shapiro is the founding President of the St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society. He served as a Graduate Research Assistant at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and as an Instructor in Jewish History at the University of Central Florida. Shapiro is also a Past President of the National Board of Trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He is the founding President of the Atlantic Coast Florida Chapter of AU. Shapiro is past president of the Flagler County Democratic Club, the Orlando Board of Rabbis and the Flagler Area Ministerial Association. He also has served on the Board of Directors of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies. Rabbi Shapiro, now retired, has served pulpits in Columbus, Ohio; Orlando, Florida; Richmond, Virginia and Palm Coast, Florida. He currently resides with his wife, Robyn, in Palm Coast, Florida. They have two daughters and five grandchildren.