Introduction to Lesson 6, Book II
READ OUT LOUD
As we learned in previous lessons, the Jews who stayed in Spain and Portugal after the expulsion had no choice but to convert to Catholicism.
They did not give up. Many continued to practice Judaism in secret while others returned to their Jewish faith whenever they escaped to other lands where it was safe to do so.
A few went on to become the most distinguished Jews of later centuries.
Here is the story of one of them. Her name was Dona Gracia Nasi. She was a woman who felt so strongly about the agony of the converted Jews - who faced discrimination by the rest of the population even if they did not continue to practice their Jewish rituals - that she spent her life and her fortune helping them. It also shows how even 400 years ago certain women could rise above their domestic status to become successful business and community leaders. Her deeds were so outstanding that she was often compared to Queen Esther in the Bible.
Sephardic grandmothers like to tell this story to their granddaughters. Let's look in upon Estrella, a grandmother in Seattle, as she begins to tell the story to her 12-year old granddaughter Sarah.
(The story opens here... where it can become a play with students reading individual parts...)