Was Christopher Columbus a Jew?

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    Does the historical record offer evidence one way or another?

    (I had once heard that in a journal of the large Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus there was a scholarly article a while back with the conclusion that, in fact, Columbus was Jewish.)


    we actually just had a discusiion today abt this, in global.. my very smart teacher sed she wonders abt this and read tonz of books abt it but still is unsure.. the facts r that he left spain around the time of the spanish inquisition and on his sea voyage his diary was found w BS”D…


    He had many Jewish friends, but historical evidence indicates that he was unequivocally not Jewish.

    He was a very cruel and ruthless person, grew up in a small village of Catholics, and achieved a very high position. The Jew rumors are a recent issue. You can google to read all about the controversy, I researched it very thoroughly at one point. But he was definitely not Jewish.


    He left Spain then for a known reason, not for being a Jew. One reason people have speculated that he was Jewish is because he had a Jewish name, Kolon, as in Mahari Kolon.


    I’m a Jew! 😀


    Christopher Columbus Z’L left Spain due to the Spanish Expulsion on Tisha b’Ov 1492, and reached the North American shore on Hoshana Rabba 1492, which you already guessed it, is time of the year whence we observe Columbus Day.

    Although deboarding a ship on Shabbos or Yom Tov involves Halachic issues, I don’t think there is any Halachic issue about deboarding a ship on Chol haMoed.


    Derech -I just posted this under the Shakepeare Topic, but for you I’ll post it again:

    “There are even more experts that I’m posting here. There is quite a lot of scholarly debate on Columbus’ origin.

    From the Huffington’s Post:

    “Over five centuries after the famed explorer’s death, historians are taking a fresh look at what motivated Christopher Columbus to make his voyage across the Atlantic — and how his faith may have played into those motivations.

    Some scholars, after analyzing Columbus’ will and other documents, have devised a new theory about the explorer. They believe he was a Marrano, or a Jew who pretended to be a Catholic to avoid religious persecution. These historians also theorize that Columbus’ main goal in life was to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim control, and that he decided to take his historic quest to North America in order to find a new homeland for Jews who had been forced out of Spain.

    During the time of Columbus’ voyage, Marranos were a targeted group. Tens of thousands of them were tortured during the Spanish Inquisition, so keeping one’s true religious identity secret was a crucial priority for many.

    As CNN reports, Columbus’ will contained five provisions that some scholars believe to be evidence of the explorer’s true faith:

    Two of his wishes — tithe one-tenth of his income to the poor and provide an anonymous dowry for poor girls — are part of Jewish customs. He also decreed to give money to a Jew who lived at the entrance of the Lisbon Jewish Quarter.

    On those documents, Columbus used a triangular signature of dots and letters that resembled inscriptions found on gravestones of Jewish cemeteries in Spain. He ordered his heirs to use the signature in perpetuity.

    According to British historian Cecil Roth’s “The History of the Marranos,” the anagram was a cryptic substitute for the Kaddish, a prayer recited in the synagogue by mourners after the death of a close relative. Thus, Columbus’s subterfuge allowed his sons to say Kaddish for their crypto-Jewish father when he died. Finally, Columbus left money to support the crusade he hoped his successors would take up to liberate the Holy Land.

    Scholars also point to the real financiers of the voyage as evidence of the trip’s purpose. While most schoolchildren grow up learning that the expedition was financed by Queen Isabella, historians say it was mostly paid for by two prominent Jews who had been forced to convert to Catholicism, Louis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez.

    While these claims may be difficult to verify, the new portrait of Columbus painted by these scholars adds a complicated layer to the already convoluted sentiment toward the famed explorer. While he is lauded in the United States with a federal holiday and a receives a great deal of credit for discovering North America, his legacy has been tainted by charges of genocide and exploitation. But if Columbus’ true intent was not imperialism, but freedom from religious trial, public perception of the man may shift yet again.”


    in 1492 Columbus was a jew,

    he sailed the ocean blue.

    he’s obviously jewish…hence the poem


    He might have had Jewish ancestry but it is clear he was a religious Catholic. In his line of work (seaman) he could easily have moved to another country, yet he chose to stay in Spain – meaning it is very unlike he was a Marano. He went to great efforts to marry “above his station” rather than marrying someone else of Jewish descent (i.e. he made sure his children would be goyim, if in fact he was Jewish). There is really no way to know his ancestry in detail. Given he was something of a greedy imperialist (which is a polite way to say a thief working for government), and had no problem working for a very anti-semitic government even though he had a choice in the matter, I don’t think we’ld really want to claim him.


    HaLeiVi -“He left Spain then for a known reason, not for being a Jew.”

    He left Spain on his expedition to help Jews flee from the Inquisition. This seems to be a historical fact that he set sail 4 days after the last expulsion of Jews from Spain.

    “One reason people have speculated that he was Jewish is because he had a Jewish name, Kolon, as in Mahari Kolon.”

    This is from a website called “Netplaces”:

    “The last name Colombo (Columbus’s name in Italian) was common among Jews in Italy. And although he was a legal citizen of Genoa, he was fluent in Spanish and apparently didn’t know how to write in Italian, perhaps because he was a son or grandson of Spanish Jews.”

    Colon was his name before Colombo.


    akuperma -“He might have had Jewish ancestry but it is clear he was a religious Catholic. In his line of work (seaman) he could easily have moved to another country, yet he chose to stay in Spain – meaning it is very unlike he was a Marano.”

    What does one have to do with another? A lot of Jews stayed and became Marranos because they didn’t want to leave Spain for a variety of reasons.

    “He went to great efforts to marry “above his station” rather than marrying someone else of Jewish descent (i.e. he made sure his children would be goyim, if in fact he was Jewish).”

    And this is proof that he isn’t Jewish? I thought you live in the US where there is 50% intermarriage with Goyim? Did you ever hear of a Tinuk Sheneshba? He probably didn’t know better.

    a Not every argument needs to be fought to the death. See wikipedia for full coverage of this issue.a


    I hope not for his sake, otherwise we’d see all the holier than thou’s telling us he wasn’t frum or frum enough for them, & why was he buried in a goyishe cemetary etc


    Health: When offered a choice between leaving Spain or taking up Avodah Zarah, left. They gave up all their property and undertook long sea voyages to places where Jews were allowed to live (in ships that would be quite uncomfortable by modern standards).

    Those who remained became the “marranos.” They made a decision to publicly accept Christianity so they could keep their property. Many of them were persecuted anyways, but remember, especially if talking about the early 16th century, they were ones who decided to stay when they had a choice.

    If Columbus were really a Jew, he would have been working for anyone except Spain. At that time, skilled sea captains were in demand in many countries. He chose to stay in Spain. If he was a “marrano”, he would have married a Jew. The underground Jews were very fussy about that (which is why they get annoyed when their yichus is question after 500 years of underground marriages).

    And given his willingness to engage in kidnapping people to sell as slavery and ethnic cleansing, we really wouldn’t want to claim him.


    (in ships that would be

    quite uncomfortable by modern


    They were actually quite uncomfortable for their standards as well, according to their diaries.

    By the way, he could have been from a family of Anusim that converted outwardly a hundred years earlier.


    I remember reading that he wrote “BS”D” on top of his letters to his brother Diego, but did not on letters to others. Why else would he do that unless he were a Jew?

    And there’s plenty of shtick among Yidden that goes on today that we won’t want to claim tomorrow or in 500 years.


    Quote from Wikipedia, which incidentally has an excellent article covering this controversy:

    In addition to the two documents cited, there are others that confirm the identification of the Genoese Christopher Columbus, son of Domenico, with the admiral of Spain. An act dated 11 October 1496 says:[7]

    Giovanni Colombo of Quinto, Matteo Colombo and Amighetto Colombo, brothers of the late Antonio, in full understanding and knowledge that said Giovanni must go to Spain to see M. Christopher Columbus, Admiral of the King of Spain, and that any expenses that said Giovanni must make in order to see said M. Christopher must be paid by all three of the aforementioned brothers, each one to pay a third … and to this they hereby agree.

    In a fourth notarial act, drawn in Savona on 8 April 1500, Sebastiano Cuneo, heir by half to his father Corrado, requested that Christopher and Giacomo (called Diego), the sons and heirs of Domenico Colombo, be summoned to court and sentenced to pay the price for two lands located in Legine. This document confirms Christoforo and Diego’s absence from the Republic of Genoa with these exact words: “dicti conventi sunt absentes ultra Pisas et Niciam.”[nb 5]

    A fifth notarial act, drawn in Savona on 26 January 1501, is more explicit. A group of Genoese citizens, under oath, said and say, together and separately and in every more valid manner and guise, that the Christopher, Bartholomew and Giacomo Columbus, sons and heirs of the aforementioned Domenico, their father, have for a long time been absent from the city and the jurisdiction of Savona, as well as Pisa and Nice in Provence, and that they reside in the area of Spain, as was and is well known.

    Finally, there is a very important sixth document from the notary of Bartolomeo Oddino, drawn in Savona on 30 March 1515. With this notarial act, Leon Pancaldo, the well-known Savonese who would become one of the pilots for Magellan’s voyage, sends his own father-in-law in his place as procurator for Diego Columbus, son of Admiral Christopher Columbus. The document demonstrates how the ties, in part economic, of the discoverer’s family with Savona survived even his death.”

    His son wrote: Colombo … was really the name of his ancestors. But he changed it in order to make it conform to the language of the country in which he came to reside and raise a new estate …

    I hope that wasn’t too long, and that interested parties read the entire Wikipedia article, it’s extremely well researched.

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