Who we are
For approximately the last 20 years, a resurgence of Crypto-Jews from the Americas has relentlessly endeavored to completely embrace Judaism. However, these valiant efforts have been met with nothing but varying degrees of rejection, disbelief, and indifference. The currently established movements have refused all acceptances except under the conversion process. And for the Crypto-Jew, those that have been in hiding in the Catholic Church, such a mandate instills fear since the same process was required of their ancestors during the Inquisition. For the Crypto-Jew, Judaism is not merely a religion but life itself, one that their observant Jewish ancestors died to preserve. Accepting conversion would deny the sacrifice of their families and bring shame to their deaths.
A proclamation by the rabbinical court of Safed in 1568, signed by R' Yosef Karo, The Mabit(R' Moshe Metrani), The Radbaz(R' Dovid ben Zimra), and R' Yisrael di Koriel stated; "...You have committed a grave sin by you actions",.. "You have locked the door to repentant Jews". Rabbeinu Gershon decreed a ban against anyone who treated any Bene Anusim in a shameful behavior. Therefore, the true question of why this action, of helping the Bene Anusim return to openly embrace Judaism has not been taken earlier leaves much to the inquirers imagination.
Thus, the Hispanic Sefaradim as individuals, extended families and small groups have remained secret for generations, scattered throughout the Americas.
It was not until June 2004 that Rabbi Yosef Garcia (a Hispanic Sefardi from Panama) and Rabbi Joshua Stampfer (Co-founder of The Society For Crypto Judaic Studies) with the counsel of long-time friend Rabbi Samuel Lerer zt"l created The Association of Crypto-Jews of the Americas or the ACJA. Designed to finally bring to reality what the rabbinical court of Sefad once ruled, The ACJA is NOT affiliated with any movement. The ACJA recognizes, educates and enables the Hispanic Sephardi to re-enter World Jewry and to confront the vast complex issues facing these people today. It is also the first organization of its kind to unite the millions of Hispanic Sephardi people of the Americas together as one.
The ACJA is the only Organization offering a Ceremony of Return including a Certificate and confirmation of a Jewish name. Recognized by the Ministry of the Interior of the State of Yisrael. The Bet Din of the ACJA follows strict guidelines in determining the qualification of each candidate.
With the help of our Mahamad;
Rabbi Arthur Oleisky,
Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen and
Rabbi David Rosenberg,
The ACJA has recognized Hispanic Sepharadim from Peru, Chile, Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, and the United States.