This is Latinx Heritage Month. Latinx Jews in the United States are a diverse group with many ways of engaging with their heritage and identity. To celebrate this diversity, Be’chol Lashon is sharing several short profiles of some of the many Latinx Jews who are American Jewish leaders. This profile of Ariana Mizrahi is the second in the series, please check back here to read the others.
Tell us a little about yourself
I grew up in Buenos Aires but I came to New York 18 years ago. I like to write about my cultural and personal experience as a Latin Jew because it is very much part of who I am. The flavors, sounds, and energy of Buenos Aires flow in my veins just as much as my Jewish values live in my heart.
There is a great deal of diversity within the broad category of Latinx. How do you identify or connect with Latinx heritage month?
It is so important to have a Latin heritage month. It gives a voice and opportunity to learn about the Latin experience and enriches the conversation. That is key to opening hearts and minds.
There are a lot of ways of describing Latinx Hispanic, Lantino/a heritage. Do you have a preference?
I prefer the term diverse Jew so that everyone can determine what represents them and how they want to share that part of themselves with others.
Tell us a little about Jewish life in Argentina
Life in Argentina is one that puts centrality on family and friendship values. Jews in Argentina developed many Jewish institutions from educational to non-formal education and sports centers. Jews partake in general Argentinian society and are very integrated into the broader community. Jews are also big soccer lovers. Soccer is the second religion in our country.
Now that you live in the United States, how do you connect with your roots in Argentina?
I write in my own blog about my experience, my memories, my nostalgia. In fact, I actually wrote an article in my blog about Maradona [the Argentinian soccer star] upon his passing. I still enjoy listening to music in Spanish and I am in touch with friends and family who are still in Buenos Aires. I like to keep myself updated and hear the news about Argentina as well.
What excites you about Jewish life today?
The promise of having new voices being heard. As more diverse Jews share their perspective and stories it will bring about a deeper and more honest conversation about who we are and where we are going.
Anything else you want to share?
I’m proud of this new initiative to raise awareness and invite an honest conversation. Learning about the human experience will undoubtedly help us gain perspective and wisdom. I pray that we can embrace this new opportunity to open our minds. The Jewish experience is one that has multiple colors and many backgrounds. By exploring our heritage and diversity we will discover what currently is unknown to many but it is very much part of the Jewish identity.
Ariana Mizrahi is a teacher, blogger, Director, and doctorate candidate in education leadership and innovation at The Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University in New York City. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ariana enjoys reflecting on her diverse background as a proud Hispanic Jew. Ariana is the Director of Hebrew Language Instruction at Yeshiva Har Torah in Little Neck, NY. She is also the principal of Jewish Youth Connection Hebrew School in New York, NY. Her blog is Rise Above It.