In 1998 a friend of Walter’s showed him a flyer from SCJS announcing our upcoming conference in El Paso Walter thought “This is right up my alley” Walter then contacted his friend about attending the conference The friend’s medical practice precluded him from attending but Walter decided that he would go “I had a wonderful time in El Paso” he said He has been to every conference since then

Walter became interested in his genealogy in 1970 After retiring he started doing family research and organizing reunions He considers his interest in crypto Jews as an extension of his research into his family roots

Walter who is now 84 years old first became aware of Hispanic crypto Jews almost sixty years ago He lived in Laredo on the TexMex border for ten years One day a Jewish friend of his asked him if he knew the Montemayors a permanent family in town “They say that they are Jewish and that they founded Monterrey” Walter later found that they were one of four Jewish families that founded the Mexican city “That made an impression on me for 60 years”

One day a new member came to Walter’s reform temple in Austin Walter is the greeter for the congregation and as such he welcomed the new member who introduced himself as Oscar Montemayor Walter asked if he was related to the family in Laredo “Distantly” said the new member Walter then asked if the man was related to José Montemayor the wellknown head of the Texas Insurance Commission “He is my father” answered the new member

Walter has done more than just attend our conferences He has recruited new members for the society and has brought friends to conferences with him Among them are Manuel Garcia Daniel and Michelle Ramos and Lupe and Frank Garcia Lupe has been speaking about crypto Jews in the Austin area for several years and is the new Vice President for Membership for SCJS

During World War II Walter was a battalion Sergeant Major in the Pacific Theater of Operations He went through campaigns in the Philippines and Okinawa His military career did not end with the victories over Germany and Japan In 1948 he quit his job and rushed to Israel to aid in the Israeli War for Independence He stayed one year serving mostly in the Galilee

Our featured Member hopes to be able to attend our upcoming conference in Portland this August
We are fortunate to have members like Walter Cohen We wish him the best of health and hope that he will be able to join us in Portland

Thanks Walter for being part of our family