Latinos along border discover Sephardic Jewish heritage

*Why you should read this: Because it’s fascinating. Because the U.S. Latino culture is vast and varied and intricate. Because in many ways the Latino culture is all cultures. VL


By Mercedes Olivera, The Dallas Morning News (4 minute read) 

The Spanish spoken along the border these days may be slightly different from the Spanish you’d find in Mexico City or in Dallas-Fort Worth.

And there would be a reason for that: its Ladino influence. That’s the language spoken by Sephardic Jews who left Spain after 1492, the year they were officially expelled by the Catholic kings there.

That’s the conclusion of Dr. Peter Tarlow, a rabbi and professor at Texas A&M University and the chairman of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. He’s also the director of the Center for Latino-Jewish Relations and Crypto-Jewish Studies.

[pullquote][tweet_dis]Three million people who live in South Texas and along the Rio Grande Valley today have crypto-Jewish blood[/tweet_dis].[/pullquote]

He presented his research Sunday at a seminar on the crypto-Jewish experience at the University of Texas at Dallas Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies.

In the 16th century, most of the Spanish colonists who arrived after the Spanish conquest of the area known today as Mexico settled in or around Mexico City.

Read more stories about Latino heritage in NewsTaco. >> 

But others had a different idea.

They were a little rougher, a little less educated, Tarlow said. And they wanted to hide their Jewish heritage from the surrounding community. Many were sailors who were trying to escape the inquisition in Spain.

Many of them came to Texas. It was viewed as a new frontier to Spanish colonists.

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[Photo by Mercedes Olivera via The Dallas Morning News]

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