click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




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:

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.

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.

Published: May 21, 2012


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 6

(3) Mike, October 13, 2014 7:10 PM

Simon Wiesenthal makes a strong case for Columbus being a Jew

Simon Wiesenthal presents in his book "Sails of Hope" many more arguments. I highly recommend reading it.
Simon Wiesenthal writes (not verbatum but in the sense of) what should lead the reader to believe that what is in the book is true? Only my credibility and integrity of my previous writing.

He was a foremost scholar of the Holocaust and worked to bring many Nazi criminals to justice.

(2) Anonymous, May 22, 2012 7:04 AM

Columbus

What difference does it make whether or not Columbus was a Jew. What REALLY matters is whether Jews are taking advantage of the golden opportunity Hashem has kindly handed us to make Al1yah and populate Our Promised Land NOW while we can still leave.

Anonymous, May 22, 2012 8:38 PM

Aliyah?

What does aliyah to Israel have to do with this article? To state that "What REALLY matters..." is a bit myopic and you've missed the point. Consider that the USA (even with all it's myriad of issues) is a historically kinder and more compassionate country to Jews than any other country EVER. There are many Torah giants of recent times who referred to the USA as a 'Medina Shel Chessed.' Perhaps Hashem sent the solution of the oncoming exile from the Iberian Empire before tragedies unfolded thereby allowing Jews to eventually settle in the USA.

(1) Anonymous, May 22, 2012 12:37 AM

I don't think we want him

I have heard this many times before and every time I hear it I cringe. Let me just say that those who know a bit of the history of this mass murderer want to disassociate themselves from him. There are couple of scholarly books outlining the atrocities committed by Columbus, but for a quick preview, I recommend a Huffinton Post article. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-kasum/columbus-day-a-bad-idea_b_742708.html If he had Jewish blood, I am sure he did not have Jewish morals. I prefer to think that he was not Jewish. Others can keep him.

Ben Aliyah, May 24, 2012 3:28 PM

Thanks for the huffingtonpost link

A real eye opener. I agree - he couldn't have been Jewish. I heard about some of these evil deeds here: http://ethnikoi.org/terror.html

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub