About This Blog

Who are you?

This is me:

smile bookshelf

I’m Daniella, an observant (a.k.a. Orthodox) Jewish American-Israeli who has always had a strange obsession with interest in the Spanish Inquisition and crypto-Jews.

I’m a writer, a translator, a self-defense instructor, and a bridal counselor. My debut novel, By Light of Hidden Candles, is forthcoming from Kasva Press. I write another blog about resilience in the face of rejection for writers, artists, and other creative types, called The Rejection Survival Guide. I’ve also had articles, short fiction, and poetry published in popular and literary magazines like Writer’s DigestPnimaReckoning, and the Jewish Literary Journal, and on websites like Kveller, Aish.com, Ynet News, J-Wire, and Hevria.

You can read more about me and the other stuff I do on Daniella-Levy.com, or check out my author pages on Goodreads and Amazon. 🙂

Who is Josep?

This is Josep (that’s not his real name):

Doing what I’ve been making him do for the last decade

He is a non-practicing Catholic Catalan who has always had a strange obsession with interest in Israel and Judaism–and who may be descended from conversos.

How do you know each other?

We met in his home city, Barcelona, in 2006. It’s actually kind of a crazy story. Click here to read how it all began…

Why do you write him these letters about Judaism and Israel?

I think he’s been asking himself that question for about ten years now. 😛 The answer is that I have been very enthusiastic about my Judaism since I was a young teen, but I am always surrounded by other Jews who know just as much as I do. He was the first person I had known who didn’t know, and expressed interest. So I started trying to explain things to him, and it was so much fun, I just couldn’t stop!

But for the record–this is not all we talk about. 😛 We are good friends and have a personal correspondence, too.

Does he ever write back?

He does comment on the blog every now and then, under his real name. See if you can spot him. 😉

Do you send the letters to him first?

No. He is subscribed to my newsletter, just like you. 😉

…What do you mean you’re not subscribed?! 😛 Remedy that!

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If only these posts were organized into a book…

What a coincidence! I have conveniently done exactly that! Click here or on the pic below to purchase on Amazon 🙂

Can I hear you read them?

Check out my dear husband’s podcast: Jewish Geography. He sometimes hosts me reading letters to Josep on it. 🙂 You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Android or RSS from that link.

If Josep lives in Spain, isn’t he a Spaniard?

Technically yes. Ethnically and culturally, however, he is Catalan, and strongly prefers to identify as such.

What are Catalans?

The Catalans are the people of Catalonia, which is currently an autonomous region in Spain. Historically, that region and some of the neighboring areas were first united under the Count of Barcelona. The County unified dynastically with the Kingdom of Aragon in the twelfth century, and ruled over Aragonese territory for the next seven centuries. However, it maintained a political structure, culture, and language distinct from those of Aragon, and became known as Catalonia. In the eighteenth century it was conquered by Castile, and has been under Spanish rule since. The Catalans have nonetheless maintained their unique culture, language, and identity.

Oh right, isn’t that the region with all the controversy about seceding from Spain?

Yes it is, and Josep is a staunch pro-separationist. In lieu of an informed, intelligent opinion on the matter, I humor him. 😛

What are crypto-Jews, conversos, and marranos?

Broadly defined, crypto-Jews are Jews who hide their identity and religion and pretend to belong to a different religion. This phenomenon is believed to have been particularly widespread as a result of the mass forced conversions in Spain of the 14th and 15th centuries. The Spanish Inquisition was established in 1480 to fight heresy, and one of its main goals was to seek out converts to Christianity (conversos, or in the more derogatory term, marranos) who were secretly practicing Judaism (“Judaizing”). Some families were very good at hiding their Judaism and managed to pass down their secret traditions through the generations. Today, some descendants of these crypto-Jews are rediscovering their roots and reclaiming their lost heritage. Check out the Casa Shalom Institute for Marrano-Anusim Studies for more information.

Who are Eitan, H, R1 and R2?

Eitan is my long-suffering husband. 😉 He is a rabbi and tour guide. H, R1 and R2 are our sons, who are aged 8, 6.5, and 5 respectively.

Any other questions? Feel free to contact me.

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