Jews in the South

By Leonard Dinnerstein; Mary Dale Palsson | Go to book overview

Mississippi Marranos

Marvin Braiterman

MARANO (plural Maranos, generally written Marranos): Crypto-Jews of the Iberian Peninsula.... The name was applied to the Spanish Jews who, through compulsion or for form's sake, became converted to Christianity in consequence of the cruel persecutions of 1391...who yielded through stress of circumstances, but in their home life remained Jews and seized the first opportunity of openly avowing their faith.

( The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. VIII, p. 318)

I have been in Mississippi as a volunteer civil rights lawyer for exactly one week. Volunteers from the North are needed because there is virtually no local legal defense available for the students and staff workers of COFO, the civil rights movement in Mississippi. Tonight I am weary of the enemy camp where this campaign is being fought, and restless from exclusively associating with my colleagues and the young clients of COFO. A world totally surrounded by the civil rights movement, and its participants and adversaries, can be grim. I need relief from crisis and cases and atrocity stories.

This evening, the calendar is a blessing. It is the Sabbath, and there is a temple in this strange city. Some Jews live here. I can leave everything for a while, and retreat to the familiar sights and sounds of a house of worship. Perhaps afterwards I will be invited to somebody's home for the evening. Last week, some of the other Jewish lawyers

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