This article is originally from the jewish publication JTA and the original can be found here.
By Talia Bloch · September 28, 2011
NEW YORK (JTA) -- In 1995, Demetrio Valdez, his wife, Olive, and some of their neighbors in Conejos County, Colo., started a kosher food co-op.
“We wanted to harvest our own meat, but we couldn’t get a good price for it, so we decided to do it kosher to make more money,” said Valdez, 64, who has raised cattle all his life.
The co-op members, all non-Jews, flew in a rabbi from New York to instruct them in kosher slaughter. To Valdez’s surprise, many of the practices introduced by the rabbi were ones that Valdez, a Catholic, had grown up with and maintained on his ranch.
“I saw that we do a lot of things the same,” he recalled. “The rabbi was surprised, too.”
Financial woes and a fire forced the co-op to close soon after it started, but Valdez’s experiences with the rabbi -- the first Jew he had ever met -- lingered.
Since childhood he had heard rumors that his family had Jewish ancestors dating back to colonial New Spain when, as historical records show, a good number of Converso Jews -- Jews and their descendants forcibly converted during the Spanish Inquisition -- came to the New World. Many of the Conversos who had made the trek over had become Catholics in name only. They were Crypto Jews who in traveling across the Atlantic were attempting to flee the Inquisition.