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A popular story coming out of Latin America these days is that the mysterious communities of geirim that have sprung up in recent years — from Peru to Colombia to Brazil to other Spanish-speaking countries — can somehow trace their roots back to the Anusim, the “hidden Jews” of the Spanish Inquisition and beyond, who are returning to their original identity. But in fact, for most of these new Jewishly affiliated communities and kehillos of converts or geirim-in-waiting, there’s actually a different narrative.

It used to be hard not to be Catholic in South America, with over 90 percent of the continent’s population adhering to that religion. But those numbers have declined in recent years, and the religious vacuum and a search for religious identity mean that many have become evangelical Christians who feel attached to the Old Testament and to Eretz Yisrael — yet within these groups, some members moved further, abandoned Christianity altogether, and ended up aligning themselves with Judaism in spite of the hardship and rejection.



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