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Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492. This was the year that the Jews of Spain were thrown out of the empire. Is it a coincidence?
Many interesting facts exist about Columbus that would reflect he might have been of Jewish descent.
The connections between the timing of Columbus's voyage and the expulsion of Spanish Jewry are indeed curious. The timing becomes more intriguing when one considers that August 2, 1492 was the day that had been ordained for the last Jews of Spain to depart the country. Columbus actually changed the day of the voyage from August 31st to the 2nd.
Another interesting fact about then day of the voyage (August 2nd) is the date that it occurred on the Jewish Calendar- Ninth of Av. or the Jewish day of mourning for the destruction of the Jerusalem Temples. It’s ironic that Columbus chose to move the departure to this important day.
Aside from the date of travel many important tidbits hint that Columbus might very well have been Jewish. His Spanish name of Colon was a standard Jewish name of Geneva and not the typical Spanish equivalent of the Italian word Columbus.
Interestingly, throughout his writings and discovery he seems to bring up many activities from the Old Testament as well as a keen knowledge of the geography of the Holy Land. In fact, in one of his writings he calculates the date from the destruction of the "Second Temple” counting from the traditional (and erroneous) Jewish date of 68 CE, rather than the generally held 70.
His crew had an interesting Jewish flavor as his translator and second in command were known Morranaos (undercover Jews). Columbus was known to frequent the company of Jews and former Jews, among who were some noted astronomers and navigators.
While most of this evidence is circumstantial the controversy about Columbus’s true religion exists. Cecil Roth editor of Encyclopedia Judaica, writes that no one can really be sure of Columbus’s religion. Interestingly he does not precede his article on Columbus with the special sign that normally indicates articles about non-Jews. The world might never know.