In the Beginning…Research - by Paula Rose Michelson

At this point writing about research or developing a bibliography for a work of romantic historic fiction would seem tantamount to the kiss of death. However, since it is through research that I uncovered hidden truths and unveiled misconceptions it is pertinent that I mention it at this time. Furthermore, through my research I found many of the facts that gave each characters story a historical bases including where each one came from, how they arrived in New York, their practices in Spain, England, and here. At the apex of all I found was information on the Jews who are still hiding in Spain although, the Spanish crown rescinded the Decree of Alhambra more than 19 years ago.

Today I will share a brief portion of my research experience because it will take at least another entry or two to do justice to every book and article I found, or received and the blessing contained within each of them.

Three Books Used in Researching the Casa Saga...

The first book I acquired was Dr. Dell Sanchez tour dĂ©force, "Aliyah! The Exodus Continues." This slim tome gave me more information than any other volume did in scope and breath of research. Within its pages, I found the answers for many who wonder if they had a Sephardic heritage because Dr. Sanchez’s book lists the names of towns raised, people killed, and the flight paths taken by many who fled Spain and New Spain. Thus making what some want to believe a myth a reality.

Dr. Martin A. Cohen’s "The Martyr -The Story of a Secret Jew and the Mexican Inquisition in the Sixteenth Century," shed light on the first governor of New Spain, a converso - a Jew converted into the Catholic faith during the Inquisition, who practiced his Judaism at home and called others back to that faith. The Inquisition arrested him on the grounds of being a Judaizer. What happened to him and his family served as a historical reference for the conclusion of the Casa Saga.

"Hidden Heritage-The Legacy of the Crypto-Jews," by Jane Jacobs Liebman was the most startling book I received since I had not order that tome. It appeared on my doorstep instead of the book I had ordered. I was going to send it back. However, being a scribe for the Lord, I decided to peruse it first. I was amazed to discover that while the author interviewed residence of the Southwestern United States for her Doctorial Thesis, many showed her Jewish artifacts, and told her their oral history. This led her, an Ashkenazi Jew, to discover her Spanish roots.

Many say that if you scratch a Spaniard you will find a Jew and some know that the liturgy used today within the Jewish faith was written during the Golden Age of Judaism, which flourished in Spain before the Inquisition. Could it be that by studying the diaspora of the Spanish Jews some scholars might quip, “If you scratch a European you will also find a Jew?” Perhaps we will never know. Beside the better question, the one everyone wants to know the answer to is, “Was Christopher Columbus a Jew and did Queen Isabella give him her jewels or her Jews.”

I have the answers to those questions and will share them with you on my next blog post when I tell you more about the research that made writing these books a joy and a blessing.
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