3:19:19 My Jewish Bloodline

A few years back, a Texas cousin and I were puzzling over our close Jewish friends. Not only close, but best. My cousin has known Sam since high school. Even though Sam moved to Florida, they phone almost weekly. While my experience hasn't been that singular; I, too, have had friends assuredly Jewish. One college pal went on to head a Holocaust museum.

Martin Casillas

A fair guess on my cousin's part was some forgotten Jewish bloodline in our past: Our Jewish friends must've subtly been picking that up. We recalled our Uncle Mark's middle name was Levine. Surely a Jewish name, but from where?

But in the present, nobody's Jewish. For our maternal relations (what my cousin and I have in common), the uncles are Catholic--Knights-of-Columbus sorts--and the aunts, including our mothers, Protestant. Neither my cousin or I would know a blintz if it hit us over the head.

But seriously, I was talking with a Jewish friend about this puzzle of Levine and such Judaic hints. When I mentioned my mom was half Spanish, my friend said converso. She explained the Jews driven out of Spain into the New World (many settling in Texas and New Mexico) outwardly converted to Catholicism.

Recently, I did some genealogical research into my mom's Spanish lineage. Thanks to the internet, in a matter of a few days, I cleared up the question my cousin and I had left to simmer. We have a Jewish bloodline!

My mother's mother was a Casillas in San Antonio. Almost all Casillas (or Casias) in Bexar County can trace back to Martin Casillas, born in 1556 in Spain. An architect, he was commissioned to design the cathedral in Guadalajara and came to the New World. He married in Puebla, Mexico, in 1582.

Moving forward several generations (skipping over the begats) to the year 1731, one of Martin's direct descendants, Juan Casillas, and his wife Maria de Luna had a son, Carlos, born at the Mission Lampasos, Coahuila, Mexico.

Carlos was my search lynchpin. For he married a woman, also from the Mission, named Maria del Carmen Vasques. Her background is Basque and Jewish. Thus, Maria introduces my Jewish bloodline (family religion often following the mother).

Carlos and Maria moved northeast to San Antonio in 1790.

One of their descendants was my mom's Uncle Solomon Casillas. Mother often said Uncle Solomon had all the kosher chicken trade in San Antonio. I'm a descendant of Uncle Solomon and his predecessors, and beginning in 2014, the government of Spain--recognizing historic harm inflicted on Spanish Jews--offers citizenship to anyone proving their Sephardic Jew lineage. Thank you, Maria del Carmen Vasques, for the nice option.

Image credit: wikipedia.org


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