Tablet Magazine

Secret Crypto-Jewish Diaries Rediscovered in New York, Displayed in Mexico City

After renouncing Judaism, Luis de Carvajal was granted mercy: Instead of being burned alive, he was tied to a pole, noose around his neck, and slowly asphyxiated to death. His body was consumed in a massive fire organized in a public plaza in 1596 at a Mexico City auto-da-fé, in which his sister and mother also died. During the trial, a collection of manuscripts in Carvajal’s distinctive calligraphy was used as proof of the family’s Crypto-Jewish practice. Found beneath Carvajal’s hat and behin
The Guardian

The black plague: Mexico City’s war on chewing gum

Each night dozens of trucks carrying 15 people depart from Mexico City’s downtown to Francisco I Madero Avenue, the most famous pedestrian street in the capital. Armed with 90C vapour guns called Terminators, the group begins the laborious task of combing the street looking for small, black circles fastened to the ground. It takes them three days, working in eight-hour shifts, to go through the 9,000 sq metre avenue. By the end, they have removed a total of 11,000 pieces of chewing gum.
Tablet Magazine

Trying to Save Ladino: Sephardic Culture Conference Lands in Mexico City

I expected, over the course of a three-day conference in Mexico City about global Sephardic culture, to hear more Ladino. But I was surprised, if not a little disappointed, to hear mostly Spanish being spoken at Erensya, an annual meeting run by the Madrid-based Sepharad-Israel Center. Founded in 2006, the SIC’s flagship program, the Erensya (“Heritage,” in Ladino) summit, is an annual meeting of Sephardic dignitaries that has previously been hosted in Bulgaria, Turkey, and Spain.
Tablet Magazine

10,000 Hardboiled Eggs and the Art of Pedro Friedeberg

Most Sundays, Pedro Friedeberg spends $50 to $100 buying junk in La Lagunilla, Mexico City’s massive flea market. Whatever he happens to find there—let’s say, a midget-sized Superman figure or a Simpsons-themed chess-set—will either be dismembered or placed into whatever nook is left among the doll heads, cabalistic drawings, I-Ching books, hand-shaped chairs, and other objects populating his house. At 82, he realizes he will never be able to organize his “collection,” though perhaps his son wil
Tablet Magazine

Stories of Emancipation: Aztecs and Israelites

Every Monday morning, in elementary school in Mexico City, I would line up next to my classmates in the main yard. As we looked up the red, white, and green flag we would sing a hymn to the Mexican flag, with our hands to our chests. The ritual was, and still is, repeated across Mexico. Atop the flag is a ubiquitous Mexican emblem: an image of an eagle, standing on top of a cactus, devouring a snake. The story behind this image is known to everyone in Mexico but to me, as a Mexican Jew, the
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