Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess

Jeff Wheelwright @ Bookworks:  Albuquerque, in case you didn't know,  has a large community of Crypto-Jews - descendants of Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition.

As Abq Jew has stated:
In the beginning, there were only stories.  Someone whose grandmother lit candles every Friday night.  Someone whose family never ate pork.  Someone whose mother cleaned the house on Friday afternoons.  Or someone whose mother had whispered: "We are Jews.  Don't tell your brothers I told you."
At first, these stories were treated as - well, unbelievable, except by a few scholars like Dr Stanley Hordes of the University of New Mexico.  Then, in the 1990s, records of the Spanish Inquisition became open to the public - and the truth behind the stories became clearly possible.

Any remaining doubts were even further diminished in the 2000s, when DNA research and DNA testing became available.

Continuing this vital and incredibly interesting discussion - Bookworks, one of Abq Jew's favorite (and local, and independent!) bookstores, will be presenting author

Jeff Wheelwright
The Wandering Gene and the Jewish Princess
Race, Religion, and DNA

4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW
Thursday 26 Jan 2012
7:00 pm
The Wandering Gene is a " brilliant and emotionally resonant exploration of science and family history."

A vibrant young Hispano woman, Shonnie Medina, inherits a breast-cancer mutation known as BRCA1.185delAG. It is a genetic variant characteristic of Jews. The Medinas knew they were descended from Native Americans and Spanish Catholics, but they did not know that they had Jewish ancestry as well.

The mutation most likely sprang from Sephardic Jews hounded by the Spanish Inquisition. The discovery of the gene leads to a fascinating investigation of cultural history and modern genetics by Dr. Harry Ostrer and other experts on the DNA of Jewish populations.

Set in the isolated San Luis Valley of Colorado, this beautiful and harrowing book tells of the Medina family's five-hundred-year passage from medieval Spain to the American Southwest and of their surprising conversion from Catholicism to the Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1980s. Rejecting conventional therapies in her struggle against cancer, Shonnie Medina died in 1999. Her life embodies a story that could change the way we think about race and faith.

Click here to read more from the author's blog.

And if you can't make it to Bookwordk - Jeff Wheelwright will also be speaking in Santa Fe at the New Mexico History Museum on Sunday January 29th.

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