Jerusalem, March 5th 2020
Endorsement Letter for Yaffah Batya daCosta and Ezra L’Anousim
As many people know, I am very familiar with many people of Latin America. Over the years, I have heard many stories about the people who are descended from the “forced converts” of Spain and Portugal. The Movie “America Ladina” of Mr. Yaron Avitov that was screened in El Salvador among many other countries has brought to the attention of millennia of people the thought that they are part of the Anousim.
I think the work of Yaffah Batya daCosta is extremely important, in helping those who want to “return” openly to the Jewish World to be enabled to do so. They are coming out of the ‘shadows” of secret Judaism (aka Crypto-Judaism) into the public domain of the faith and traditions of their Sephardi Jewish ancestors. Those ancestors suffered under the Inquisition, which had followed them to the “new world”, and that continued the persecution for almost 350 years after the expulsion. Most people (Jews and non-Jews alike) are not aware that the Alhambra Decree (the expulsion edict of Spain) was not officially revoked (by the government of Spain) until 1968.
Yaffah Batya and her organization (Ezra L’Anousim in Israel) are committed “activists” for the Bnei Anousim who are on a journey of “return”. They are an all-volunteer organization (Israeli non-profit) working with individuals, families and “emerging communities” of Bnei Anousim, globally. They help provide Torah teachers (for a halachic conversion or symbolic conversion) as well as recommending a Beit Din who can assist. They help these people understand how to uncover the “evidences” of their mother’s female line of secretly Jewish women, in order to present that research to a Beit Din for a giyur L’chumra. They raise money to purchase Torah books and ritual objects (e.g. tefillin, tallit, etc.) so these “emerging Jews” can have what they need to live a Torah observant life.
I hope that many more people in Israel will come to learn all about Yaffah Batya, her organization, and their work to assist the Bnei Anousim in the fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Obadiah verse 20b “… and the exiles from Jerusalem, at Sefarad, will inherit the cities of the South.”
Shmulik A. Bass
Director, Department of South America
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel