We are an Israeli amuta (not-for-profit) organization dedicated to helping and supporting in any way we can the Western Sephardi Tradition of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, specifically the Crypto-Jews or the Bnei Anousim, worldwide. The Western Sephardi Tradition is composed of two sub-groups. 1) the Old World Western Sephardim are those who left Iberia and ended up in European Countries, and maintained their public Jewish personna. 2) the New World Western Sephardim are those who left Iberia and ended up in the New World of the Americas (mainly) and the majority were required to hide their Jewishness.
There are approximately 100 million people with this ancestry of Crypto-Judaism in the Americas. If only 5% came back publicly to the faith and traditions of our Sephardi ancestors, and returned to our ancient homeland (the land of Israel), that would mean 5 million former Crypto-Jewish (Bnei Anousim) new immigrants to the Jewish State.
However, that’s not what’s happening today! The vast majority of these people we work with choose to be a “Jew in place” in the country where they’re presently living. Partly because their acceptance for Aliyah is “controversial”. And partly because many former Bnei Anousim Jews have zero confidence that Israel will ever help this movement. So of that 5% (or 5 million) who come back as Jews (by halacha) – very few will be accepted for Aliyah. And we will never know (and never have a good approximation of) how many of them would have come on Aliyah to Israel, if the present situation never changes. Bnei Anousim will continue to come back as Jews. And they will suffer discrimination, from other Jews (and the State of Israel) if this situation is not changed some day.
We will have programs for activists and advocates around the world, as well as do fund raising activities and use the funds to financially support people in their coming back openly to Judaism with the faith and traditions of their ancestors, the forced converts of Spain and Portugal of 500+ years ago. This is done through a Beit Din return ceremony or conversion ceremony – whichever is most appropriate to their situation. And includes all the learning and practice of Sephardi Judaism prior to appearing before the Beit Din.
A vibrant Sephardi Jewish Community of former Bnei Anousim living in Israel (and especially in the Negev) and helping to continue to build the modern nation in the Land promised to our forefathers (cref. to the source of this vision in the prophecy of Obadiah 1:20b)
To reach out to (and be found by) Spanish & Portuguese (S&P) Crypto-Jews from around the world, in the countries where the Bnei Anousim ancestors had fled the Inquisition, and offer assistance in their coming back openly to Judaism within the faith/traditions of their Sephardi ancestors from Spain and Portugal.
–Yaffah Batya DaCosta founded Ezra L’Anousim over 20 years ago with a vision to see a complete restoration of the Bnei Anousim. Today, Yaffah Batya continues to build upon that dream. Working with immense passion towards a greater possibility of inspiring others to provide the greatest help we can to the Bnei Anousim. In some communities, this passion for the Bnei Anousim has earned her the nickname of Bnei Anousim Ima….
Message from the Founder and CEO
"Various people and organizations (but too few altogether) have tried to help the Bnei Anousim over the years ... but the main focus was in converting them to Judaism, while not allowing them to be Sephardi Jews. Our organization is made up of former Bnei Anousim, who are living the lifestyle of our Sephardi ancestors from Spain and Portugal (in our traditions) and also the Rabbis helping our people are Sephardi Rabbis. This is what differentiates us and is our advantage in doing Kiruv for the Bnei Anousim". We believe very strongly in the concept of "no one is left behind" among the Bnei Anousim (for those who ask for our help). This is consistent with the story of Hillel, as a student (B. Yoma 35b) where Torah study persisted despite his poverty. So we have a policy, that the Bnei Anousim should NOT be taken advantage of as vulnerable, and/or marginalized, as individuals due to not being able to afford to pay a Torah teacher for their Torah studies (and/or if they could not pay for a Beit Din). We think it is OK to pay a modest "donation" to Torah teachers, whom we recommend, but only if people can afford that. And what if a person cannot even afford that? Then we will offer to families, and/or individuals, an application for a financial aid package that will provide that donation. And we will also allow people to apply for, and receive, financial assistance to get out of debt that they'd already incurred from their attending Torah classes and/or for Beit Din expenses -Yaffah Batya DaCosta