work related to Crypto-Jews/Conversos/B’nei Anusim (descendants of victims of the Spanish Inquisition):

VIDEO: 3-min. music video directed by Joel Carrasco; subtitles can be enabled in English, Spanish, or Portuguese; debuted August 2023 at SJCS national conference and exhibited in UTEP Union East Gallery; see artists’ statement; logline: based on the Spanish-inflected song “Lights Lead Home” (see below), a transformative story of lovingly-preserved family ritual yielding spiRITUAL discovery of Crypto-Judaic heritage dating back to the Spanish Inquisition

SONG:  “LIGHTS LEAD HOME” Words & Music © 2007, 2014 Lawrence (Larry) M. Lesser, from Lesser’s 2020 album Sparks, a winner and 4-time finalist at the New Mexico Music Awards; Larry Lesser vocals & Spanish guitar; Bill Radcliffe electric guitar & harmony vocals; click here (or here for a live performance) to hear the music (or watch the above video) and see below for the lyrics:

Rosa Mendez wonders why
her abuela drew the blinds,
lit two candles and closed her eyes
on Friday nights.

Lights lead home, lights lead home over ocean of soul.

Here in this New World land,
Rosa starts to understand
Traditions hidden, lost or banned,
since Ferdinand.

Lights lead home, lights lead home over ocean of soul.

It’s like she found an ancient key
that opened doors of memory:
fin’ly safe now to see
sparks redeem.

Lights lead home, lights lead home over ocean of soul.
Lights lead home, welcome home over ocean of soul, sobre el alma del mar.


Dec. 21, 2023 episode of R. Stephen Leon’s iHEART radio podcast “The Secret Jews of the Southwest” (or on Spotify)

piece in Spring/Summer 2020 issue of HaLapid, the biannual periodical of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies

lyric appears in 2010 national resource guide, S. Leon & J. Mejía  (Eds.), Welcoming B’nei Anousim to Judaism and Memorializing the Spanish Inquisition as Part of Tisha B’Av Observances (p. 17)

in 2023 exhibits at Los Portales Museum (San Elizario, TX) and UTEP Union Gallery (El Paso, TX)

performed “Lights Lead Home” (sometimes with some additional related songs) at The Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies conference, a dozen Sephardic Anusim Conferences, Anusim Center, The University of Texas at El Paso (opening for speaker Genie Milgrom), Jewish Heritage Dinners, Congregation B’nai Zion, opening event for exhibit at Los Portales Museum, and an episode (version with timestamps) of the podcast “The Secret Jews of the Southwest”

more information: on Lesser’s Jewish, music, or Jewish music endeavors; on Crypto-Jews or the Anusim Center