CANARY ISLANDS

CANARY ISLANDS, islands belonging to Spain, off N.W. Africa. Since the Canary Islands were taken over by Spain after the Expulsion of 1492, the first Jewish immigrants to the Canary Islands were conversos from Spain and Portugal seeking refuge from the Inquisition and persecution. The first Converso settlers came with their families and continued to follow a traditional life. The Conversos from southern Spain were the first Europeans to join the small local population of Berber-African origin. As elsewhere in the Spanish and Portuguese world, here too the Converso settlers were followed by the Inquisition. The Inquisition began to operate in 1504. Evidence given in a trial held by the Inquisition in 1520 tells of a Jewish community in one of the islands which had a synagogue and shoḥet. In 1502 the inquisitor-general, Francisco Diego Deza, summoned a number of Conversos from the islands before the tribunal in Seville; others were tried by the tribunal of Córdoba. The first auto-da-fé in the Canaries was held in 1526. Later the Inquisition relaxed its activities, but they were revived as a result of the plague of 1523–32. Among those burned at the stake were Alvar González of Castello Branco, the moving spirit of the Palma Converso community, and Pedro González, a royal official who left Spain in 1492, but later became a nominal convert to Christianity. The tribunal resumed its activities in 1568 when Diego Ortiz de Fuñez, formerly prosecutor in the tribunal of Toledo, arrived in the Canaries. In 1524 a movement to leave for Ereẓ Israel stirred the Converso community and some set off despite the dangers involved; one family reached its destination. Lucien Wolf based his study of the Converso community in the Canaries on the basis of 76 volumes of Inquisition records which were sold to a private individual in 1900. Since that time these volumes have disappeared. Wolf published the material in regesta in English with useful notes. Beinart discovered a few more trial reports in Spain. The material suggests that the Converso community maintained strong links with London. In the 17th century, many Conversos, largely from Portugal, settled in Palma and Tenerife. Many of the Conversos who settled in the Canaries led a Jewish life. Some knew how to slaughter ritually, baked matzah for Passover, and continued to pray in the Jewish manner. Some of the Conversos adhered to a strictly religious way of life. During the 17th century the islands witnessed a revival of Judeo-Converso life. The islands were a convenient stepping stone to the New World and London. The number of Conversos increased considerably. Conversos in Western Europe saw the economic and strategic importance of the islands in international trade. The inquisitional   records of the 17th century indicate that close connections existed between the Conversos in the Canaries and those in England and northwestern Europe. Among those denounced were antonio Fernández Carvajal, a founder of the London Jewish community, and his kinsman Lorenzo Lindo. During the 18th century, a few Conversos were still brought before the Inquisition in the Canaries, but without serious consequences. In the 1950s a number of Jews, mainly immigrants from Morocco, settled in the Canaries but did not form an organized community. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Wolf, Jews in the Canary Islands (1926). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Beinart, in: JHSE Transactions, 25 (1977), 48–86; L.A. Anaya Hernández, in: Inquisição 1 (1989–90), 161–76. (Haim Beinart / Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Canary Islands — Canar′y Is′lands n. pl. geg a group of mountainous islands in the Atlantic Ocean, near the NW coast of Africa, comprising two provinces of Spain. 1,614,882; 2894 sq. mi. (7495 sq. km) Spanish, Islas Canarias Ca•nar′i•an ,adj.n …   From formal English to slang

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