Programming note: The Daily will take a break on December 24 and December 25, and return each day with selections of the best Atlantic stories from this past year for the remainder of 2018. It’ll be back in full swing on January 2, 2019.
Cashless: As more and more stores go cashless and even cashier-less for the sake of efficient checkout experiences for customers, a clear group will be left out: the poor, and, in particular, unbanked people who may have low credit or work jobs that only pay in cash. Their options in the growing new digital economy are shrinking.
DNA tests have begun to reveal the genetic legacy of Jews who converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition. A recent study reveals the unexpectedly large extent of Sephardic Jewish ancestry that can be traced to Latin Americans today, writes Sarah Zhang.
In the case of conversos, DNA is helping elucidate a story with few historical records. Spain did not allow converts or their recent descendants to go to its colonies, so they traveled secretly under falsified documents. “For obvious reasons, conversos were not eager to identify as conversos,” says David Graizbord, a professor of Judaic studies at the University of Arizona. The designation applied not just to converts but also to their descendants who were always Catholic. It came with more than a whiff of a stigma. “It was to say you come from Jews and you may not be a genuine Christian,” says Graizbord. Conversos who aspired to high offices in the Church or military often tried to fake their ancestry.
The genetic record now suggests that conversos—or people who shared ancestry with them—came to the Americas in disproportionate numbers. For conversos persecuted at home, the fast-growing colonies of the New World may have seemed like an opportunity and an escape. But the Spanish Inquisition reached into the colonies, too. Those found guilty of observing Jewish practices in Mexico, for example, were burned at the stake.