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I came across something interesting while reading a book that I want to pass on.  I offer it as a follow-up to my Concerning the origin of the da Silva surname post, which is the most popular post on this blog by far.  I am currently reading Stories Grandma Never Toldwritten by Sue Fagalde Lick and published by Heyday Books.  The interesting part is found on pages 143 & 144 of the 1998 edition.   Now I would love to type up what is written, but since I have not received written permission from the publisher I will paraphrase what was written:

During the Spanish Inquisition (14th & 15th centuries), Iberian Jews were persecuted by the Catholic Church which dominated the area.  They fled to other countries so they could keep practicing their faith.  The first Portuguese settlers to the United States were Jews who arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654 (it wasn’t the United States at the time of course).  Those who remained in Portugal “were forced to at least pretend to embrace the Catholic faith.”  They were baptized, often with new names, and adopted the Christian customs. Some reverted to Judaism when they reached a safe place, while others remained Catholic and passed it down to their descendants.