Sonya's Dreams of Return Become Reality
My whole life, I felt that there was something missing. When I was five, my brother and I were playing with my cousins at my maternal grandmothers house. My grandmother that I light candles with, the one who covered her head three times a day to pray facing the east, whom taught all of her daughters how to check eggs for blood, and never to pass the dirt collected while sweeping the floors over the door post. She was the grandmother whom had a virgin Mary water font in the door post of her house, and collected “holy water every holy Saturday.”
At 18 I had a Divine experience through a dream. I was also told that I would always be shown my way and that I would never be alone. At 36 going through a divorce, moving back to New Mexico, as now a single mother and un-employed. I took up my questions with God. The next five years I spent looking for my answers in Jewish text that I was able to find. I was always drawn to Judaism; andmy friends use to call me the Jew magnet. After 5 years of non-stop studying, researching, and looking for my personal truth. I had met my first Israeli mentor, whom I got my first steps in Hebrew prayer from, my first Hebrew aleph-bet book from. And he never seemed to mind my questions.
In 1999, I went to a conference and found out that I might be from a Marrano background. Of course I didn’t like the term pig/swine, for a historical term, but who was I to change it? When I came home from that conference, I told my parents that I thought we might be Spanish Jews from Spain, whom were forced to convert to Judaism. The two great things I came away from that conference was a web site listing the first 10,000 names released from the Vatican archives, along with the very vague apology from Pope Paul II. When I started asking my parents what were the names of my grandparents, & great grandparents, I found all of our surnames in that list.
Another five years went by and from another dream I had, the name Bat-Tzion Hebrew Learning Center came to me and thus the learning centerwas born, January 20th, 2004. When I asked my parents for their blessing to do the learning center, my father not only gave me his blessing he told my mother and I that he had known since he was six that he was a Jew. As our mouths hit the floor, every emotion from disbelief to shock and every thing in between hit me at once. As I said, “dad all this time I have been telling you and mom that I thought we were Jews and I was closing my store on Shabbat, learning on my own how to do Jewish customs, you are just now telling me this?” He shrugged his shoulders and walked away saying; “I was told it was a secret and we were now Catholic.” I knew better than to follow him to his man cave. As I stood there in shock feeling waves of screaming emotions needing answers, my mother looked at me and said; “mijah go home, get some rest and I will find out what is going on.” A few days later my mom called me over for breakfast and coffee, telling me she had a story to tell me. As we had our breakfast she began telling me what my father told her. He was raised by his maternal grandmother, from the age of 15 days old to 7 years old. Abuelita Martina was teaching my dad special prayers. When one of the three of his uncles whom were in WW-II, came back home Uncle Mac told Abuelita, that he had been liberating the camps in Germany, and he told her the family names he had seen there, and that it was still not safe to be a Jew. My father was six at the time, and was sworn to secrecy to keep the family safe. To this day he has not told any one except for my mother and I.
After the doors to the Hebrew learning center opened, more and more people like my self, being drawn to Judasiam began coming from Roswell NM, Hobbs NM, Socorro NM, Las Cruses NM, Alamogordo NM, El Paso Tx., and various other locations around the mountain. I say mountain, because I live in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico, we are called the playground of the South West. Tourist, from all over come to ski, go to the horse track, and come to cool off from the desert locations within several hundred miles. Each Friday night & Saturday morning we had services, we were learning how to use the Art Scroll siddur, how to do the Biblical holidays, Jewish rituals, study Torah and most weekends had a full house until we announced that we were not messianic. Then the crowds started dropping from 70 to about 20 or so. Within six months of opening the learning center, I had the first anousim conference, which I organized with speakers for the next 10 years. An Israeli tour company contacted me to see if I would bring anousim on tours to Israel, saying yes they put me on the next FAM tour and within a few weeks I was in Israel. After the last 11 years of my conversion which was Dec. 2005, many things have been revealed to me, who I am, where I come from and my longing to go home to Israel, now all makes so much more sense.
In 2011 on one of the tours and conferences we had in Israel, I discovered that there were Loya families in Israel, and my dear friend Dr. Shabtay, contacted one of the Loya families for me. The first questions the 90 year oldMr. Loya asked was; “is she still catholic and who did she marry?” He gave Dr. Shabtay migration patters for 15 Loya families expelled from Spain in 1492. I suddenly understood the staggering Loya dots on map of diaspora. Morocco, Rabbi Yitzhak De Loya, (1711) was a chief Rabbi and Scholar in MarakeshMorocco, besides other Loya Rabbi’s in Morocco and through out history. Portugal, Turkey, Bulgaria, and then Israel by the middle of the 1500’s. He also mentioned that there was an ancient Loya Synagogue south of the Galilee.
All of my dreams, interesting experiences while in the Galilee area, I had each time I have been to Israel, started to make sense. A year after my conversion my daughter converted and now my two granddaughters are born Jewish. One day I hope to take my parents, daughter and granddaughters to Israel, as well as to meet the Loya families. For I know they too will fall in love with the land and connect with their people. Isaiah 58:6-14 was given to me in 1993, why those words were spoken over me at that time, I Know was to show me a sign that I was not forgotten or alone. The words I heard in my dream, so long ago at age 18, to this day, I know that I have been shown my way back home and that I have never been alone.
I look forward to finishing my bachelors in Psychology within the next year, so that I can finally come home to Israel my beloved and my people.