The Novelized Life of Alfonso de Zamora: An Illustrious Crypto-Jew at the Service of the Church
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: Which university was the first one in Spain to offer a specific program of studies for women?
Alfonso de Zamora was born in 1474. A graduate of the famous Campanton Yeshiva in Zamora, he first escaped to Portugal in 1492, but returned to Spain around 1497 as a converso. He became a teacher and scribe at the University of Salamanca until 1512, when he was transferred to the University of Alcala de Henares. He was involved in the editing of the first Polyglot Bible and wrote essays, poems, criticisms, bible commentary, historical records, books, and teaching curricula, all under the watchful eye of the Inquisition, which took advantage of the knowledge of the conversos while never really trusting that their conversions to Christianity were genuine.
Dr. Ahuva Ho was born in Tel Aviv and studied Hebrew Bible and Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has done research on Alfonso de Zamora for two decades. After examining about 70 manuscripts written or edited by Zamora, she came to the conclusion that they reflect a tormented, resentful, bitter and penitent Crypto-Jew. Her book Surviving the Inquisition: the Life and Work of Alfonso de Zamora was published by CST Press in 2020 and her findings have also been published in the specialized journal Iberia Judaica. Dr. Ho lives in Los Angeles and has lectured internationally in Israel, the U.S.A., Mexico, Spain and New Zealand.
She has taken advantage of her extensive research to publish Dagger in the Heart, a historical novel that tells the story of Alfonso de Zamora and vividly describes what life was like for the many Jews who chose to remain in Spain after the expulsion, nominally converting to Christianity, but continuing to practice Judaism covertly, as Crypto-Jews.