Who are the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities?
These are people whose Jewish ancestors, Sephardim, had lived in Spain and Portugal since Roman times. Their systematic persecution, including forced conversion to Catholicism, began in the 14th century. These forced converts, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, were varyingly referred to by names such as Crypto-Jews, Conversos, Marranos, Chuetas and Anousim (lit. the forced ones). Their descendants, numbering in the high tens of millions, now live across the world, but primarily in North and Latin America and Europe.
It is possible to split these descendants into three groups. The first group consists of those who always kept their Jewish identity, customs and traditions inside the family, often hiding publicly. The second group consists of those who knew or had suspicions about their Jewish ancestry, sometimes through oral hints or strange customs. The third group is completely unaware of their Jewish ancestry. However, some in this group retain strange customs which unbeknown to them are Jewish in origin and simple internet searches are able to explain the origins of their family customs.
Additionally, thanks to DNA and genealogical advances more and more people are beginning to understand their heritage.