“Grandpa’s family was originally from Spain,” my Grandma Thelma would begin her story with these words. “They left Spain because they did not want to convert. They were court Jews and could have stayed. But their Judaism was more important.”
I thought this was a ‘bubba meiser,’ just a myth and a bedtime story. And for many years, I did not believe the Spanish expulsion of Jews had anything to do with me. I thought it was enough that our family had been decimated by the Shoah. But it seems my grandmother was telling me the truth, and my family is both a survivor of the Spanish and German attempts to destroy the Jewish people.
My Grandpa Nat’s last name was Amsterdam. This is a somewhat unusual Jewish name. And, it seems, actually anyone named Amsterdam is related to me. The family started in Spain as wealthy Jewish merchants and…
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