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'Lost Jews' Of Colombia Say They've Found Their Roots

Juan Forero

NPR

Dec 21, 2012

Photos By: Paul Smith for NPR

They are called "crypto-Jews" or "lost Jews," and in recent years they have emerged in remote places as scattered as India, Brazil, the American Southwest and here in Colombia.

They were raised as Christians but believe they have discovered hidden Jewish roots, prompting many to return to Judaism. Many say their ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago, as the Spanish crown embarked on a systematic persecution of Jews.

Fleeing for their safety, some wound up in the rugged northwest of Colombia, a region of tradition-bound towns long associated with fervent Catholicism.