Anusim (Hebrew: אֲנוּסִים, pronounced [anuˈsim]; singular male, Anús, Hebrew: אָנוּס pronounced [aˈnus]; singular female, Anusáh, אָנוּסָה pronounced [anuˈsa], meaning "Coerced") is a legal category of Jews
Jews in halakha (Jewish law) who were forced to abandon Judaism
Judaism against their will, typically while forcibly converted to another religion. The term "anusim" is most properly translated as the "coerced [ones]" or the "forced [ones]".
1 Etymology 2 Meaning 3 History of use 4 In rabbinic literature 5 Rabbinic legal opinions 6 Current status 7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links
Anusim derives from the Talmudic phrase averah b’ones
(עבירה באונס), meaning "a forced transgression." The
Hebrew ones (pronounced "oh'nes") derives from the triconsonantal root
א-נ-ס (Aleph-Nun-Samekh), and originally referred to any case where
a Jew has been forced into any act against his or her will. In Modern
Hebrew, the word ones is mainly used to mean rape, thus "Anusim" (or
female "Anusot") nowadays means rape victims - the older meaning used
only in the historical context.
The term anús is used in contradistinction to meshumad
(מְשֻׁמָּד), which means a person who has voluntarily
abandoned the practice of Jewish law in whole or part. The forced
converts were also known as cristianos nuevos (Spanish) or
"Min" (מין), or an apostate of Judaism, for a Jew who basically denies the existence of God; and "Meshumad" (מְשֻׁמָּד), literally "self-destroyed" or a heretic to Judaism, for a Jew who deliberately rebels against the observance of Jewish law.
The main difference between a min, a meshumad, and the anusim is that
the act of abandonment of
"Conversos", meaning "converts [to Christianity]" in Spanish,
Portuguese, Catalan and Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish).
"New Christians", or cristianos nuevos in Spanish, and cristãos novos
in Portuguese (Catalan: cristians nous), which also encompasses
converts from Islam.
"Marranos", a term which refers to those Conversos which practiced
In rabbinic literature
The subject of anusim has a special place in rabbinic literature. In
normal circumstances, a person who abandons Jewish observance, or part
of it, is classified as a meshumad. Such a person is still counted as
a Jew for purposes of lineage, but is under a disability to claim any
privilege pertaining to Jewish status: for example, he should not be
counted in a minyan, that is, a quorum for religious services.
Anusim, by contrast, not only remain
Indeed, when it comes to lineage, all the people of Israel are brethren. We are all the sons of one father, the rebels (reshaim) and criminals, the heretics (meshumadim) and forced ones (anusim), and the proselytes (gerim) who are attached to the house of Jacob. All these are Israelites. Even if they left God or denied Him, or violated His Law, the yoke of that Law is still upon their shoulders and will never be removed from them.
Hakham BenSión Uziel, the Chief Sephardic
And we still have to clarify on the (subject of) Anusím, to whom the government forbids them to perform Halakhicly valid marriages, if it's necessary to say that their wives must have a Get to permit them (to marry another man), for the reason that, by force of the Law (Hazaqáh), a man does not have intercourse for promiscuity (zenút). . . (In our very case), we deal with those who converted and kept Torah in secrecy and hide their religion because of the gentile surveillance, we say that they do have intercourse for the sake of marriage.
It follows that Hakham Uziel considered anusím as Jews, because only
But their children and grandchildren [of Jewish rebels], who, misguided by their parents . . . and trained in their views, are like children taken captive by the gentiles and raised in their laws and customs (weghidelúhu haGoyím `al dathám), whose status is that of an ’anús [one who abjures Jewish law under duress], who, although he later learns that he is a Jew, meets Jews, observes them practice their laws, is nevertheless to be regarded as an ’anús, since he was reared in the erroneous ways of his parents . . . Therefore efforts should be made to bring them back in repentance (LeFikakh rawí leHah zirán biTeshubáh), to draw them near by friendly relations, so that they may return to the strength-giving source, i.e., the Toráh.
There is much controversy regarding the status of conversions today.
While the Chief Rabbis are wary of converting large groups, there are
some rabbis such as
Allahdad Chala (Jews) Conversion to Judaism Crypto-Judaism Epikoros Neofiti Sephardic Bnei Anusim Who is a Jew?
^ Talmud, Abodá Zará 54a
^ Rotem, Tamar (February 27, 2010). "Where Rebellious Haredi Sons (and
Daughters) Go". FailedMessiah.com. Ha'aretz.
^ Roth, Norman (2 September 2002). Conversos, Inquisition, and the
Expulsion of the
Gitlitz, David. 'Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews',
Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.
The Chronicle of Solomon bar Simson.--The Chronicle of
Crisis and Leadership: Epistles of Maimonides; texts translated and
notes by Abraham Halkin; discussions by David Hartman. Philadelphia:
Jewish Publication Society of America, 1985 ISBN 0-8276-0238-3
(reissued by the publisher as: Epistles of Maimonides: Crisis and
Leadership in 1993).
Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision. London:
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997 ISBN 0-297-81719-1
José Faur, In the Shadow of History:
Rabbinic legal discussions about Anusim
600 years of Rabbinic Responsa regarding Anusim
Conversos and Maskilim: Similar Issue, Different Approaches
The Association of Crypto