Financial Instability and Prejudice by Paula Rose Michelson

Today we will look at a painful truth, that being the need for humans of any religion, color, or opinion to blame or assault, the character of another person or group because their faith, thoughts, or actions differ from theirs. Many justify their actions by becoming part of a group or coalition of likeminded people. Some vent their thoughts on the Bully Pulpit. And when the stakes are high enough, we might decide to follow along rather than get involved in something that we believe does not affect us, those we love, or our country.

I believe that is what happened in Spain when the king signed The Decree of Alhambra, formed the Office of the Inquisitor, and empowered it to bring heretics to faith or irradiate them. The historical notes from Casa de Naomi are below this writing, but before you read them, I would like you to think about Spain. Then think about America today. To do that let me share that Spains’ commercial centers – Toledo and Cordoba faced with the same problems that we face. The finical system that had worked could not rectify their problem. The kings’ solution was to sign a decree that forced all Jews to leave the country thus freeing up jobs, which he believed would solve the countries financial crisis. When the church and nobles heard of this they petitioned the king because they needed the Jews to continue keeping their accounts and conduct all fiduciary functions as they had been doing since the church forbad them to do so. Out of this countries need for finical stability and the churches ban on its member’s involvement in commerce the heinous acts of the inquisitors office were born.

Today, we face a similar crossroad. How we handle our finical malaise will define us as a people and affect our children’s children and us. Ask yourself:

• What do I value?

• Why do I value what I value?

• What am I willing to risk to keep what I value?

• Do I believe that others have to give up something they value so I can feel secure?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Historical Notes~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prior to the signing of the decree, the crown moved the Jews into towns expressly set aside for them. This made it easy for the office to monitor the conversion of those Jews who had not married Catholics and subsequently converted or convinced those in high office that they believed in Christ. During that time, fervent priests were preaching against the Jews; many who feared death became Catholic and were assimilated into that faith. Others allowed themselves to be baptized and acted Catholic while practicing their Jewish faith at home. The records show that Jews who did not covert and could not, or would not, leave watched their homes and towns razed and torched before the officials killed them.

The church appointed the office of inquisitor and his assistants. Their work involved the unification of Spain under the Catholic Church. While the office hunted the hidden Jews, some Jews who followed the Laws of Moses, as they called the Old Testament, sought Jews who had fallen away from Judaism and called them back to that faith.

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