Zipporah Nunes MachadoJacobs

Zipporah Nunes Machado Jacobs escaped the horrors of the Inquisition as a conversa, using clever tricks to keep her devotion to Judaism secret from any who might betray her. Nunes and her community of secret Jews hid prayer books in seat cushions and met in private homes for worship, but despite outward shows of Christian behavior, such as going to Mass, she fell under suspicion. Having already been imprisoned once by the Inquisition, she fled Lisbon with her family in 1726 as Maria Caetana Nunes Ribeiro, smuggled on board a ship bound for England, to avoid another ordeal. She returned to practicing Judaism in London and became an early member of a colony in Georgia in 1733. Her great-grandchildren recalled watching her murmur a prayer every time a clock struck an hour, which they thought was related to her imprisonment, and they noted that she continued to pray using a rosary, an early habit she had taken on to hide her Jewish faith. Despite all she had suffered, Nunes remained committed to Judaism throughout her life, marrying the cantor of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York and raising her children as observant Jews.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Zipporah Nunes Machado Jacobs." (Viewed on August 7, 2020) <>.


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