Columbus the Jew?May 21, 2012 at 04:14:46 PM
For centuries, urban legend has posited the Jewish heritage of Christopher Columbus. After all, Columbus set sail on his famous voyage from Spain in 1492 – on the very same day that Jews were being "ethnically cleansed" from the Iberian Peninsula.
Actually, Columbus was originally scheduled to sail on August 2, 1492, which fell on Tisha B'Av, the Jewish national day of mourning that marks the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem. Columbus postponed his journey by one day… to avoid this historically inauspicious Jewish occasion.
Further evidence: Columbus' last will and testament was signed with a triangular signature of dots and letters that resembled inscriptions found on gravestones of Jewish cemeteries in Spain. CNN reports:
Columbus occasionally noted dates by the Jewish calendar, and included some Hebrew in his writings. In the top left-hand corner of personal correspondence frequently wrote the Hebrew letters bet-hei, meaning b'ezrat Hashem (with God's help) – a practice common among observant Jews.
Beyond this, linguists have analyzed the language and syntax of hundreds of Columbus' handwritten documents and concluded that his primary language was Castilian Spanish – the "Yiddish" of Spanish Jewry, known as "Ladino."
But before jumping to any conclusions, consider the wealth of evidence that Columbus was Christian. Bottom line: Expect this debate to rage for another few hundred years.