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The history of the Jews in Mexico can be said to have begun in 1519 with the arrival of Conversos, often called Marranos or “Crypto-Jews,” referring to those Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism and that then became subject to the Spanish Inquisition.
Over the colonial period (1521-1821), a number came to Mexico especially during the period of the Iberian Union (1580-1640), when Spain and Portugal were ruled by the same monarch.
He notes that nearly all the dies prepared under the tenure of the first assayer use this purported aleph symbol in place of the Christian cross potent mark found almost universally on medieval Spanish and Mexican coinage.
Nathan goes on to consider possible Jewish family connections to the known early Mexican mint workers.
Today, most Jews in Mexico are descendants of this immigration and still divided by diasporic origin, principally Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazim and Ladino-speaking Sephardim.
One notable episode during the colonial period was the establishment of the New Kingdom of León.
The persecution of Jews came to New Spain along with the conquistadors.
Bernal Díaz del Castillo described in his writings various execution of soldiers during the conquest of Mexico because they were accused of being practicing Jews, including Hernando Alonzo, who built the boats Cortés used to assault Tenochtitlán.
This relaxing of the Inquisition in Mexico, which was never as severe as in Spain, allowed more to come over in the first half of the 17th century.
New Conversos settled in Mexico City, Acapulco, Veracruz and Campeche as they provided the most opportunities for mercantile activity.