Remnants of a Hidden Faith

A pergola structure known as a jaral in Spanish.

Through the early 20th century pergola structures, called a jaral in Spanish, could be found in New Mexico. The Sephardic Jews placed them in their backyards to be used for outdoor prayer. Among Sephardic classical books is the one called The Ladino Torah. The book, written in 1553. It was the first critical edition of the most influential book for the Sephardic Jews of Spain. On September 25,1492, after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, 20 bibles were burned in Salamanca. The bibles included both Jewish and Christian traditions.

Tree of Life

The tamarisk tree in New Mexico.

The tamarisk tree has a religious connotation in New Mexico. It was common to pray near the trees. Abraham, in Genesis, chapter 21, verse 33, said to have planted a tamarisk tree in “The Well of The Oath” it became known a  “Bersabe.” The name Bersabe is common in Albuquerque and other Hispanic communities. The tree commemorates The Desert of Bersabe. In the location where Hagar and Abraham’s first-born son, Ishmael, wandered. The prayer shawl called a taled was worn by young Jewish men in the 20th century. Taled is derived from the Hebrew word tallit, which is a prayer shawl.

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