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I have a question. I have always been confused about what to put down on college applications, etc. My family is originally of Spanish descent. We fall into the category of Sephardic (means Spanish) Jews who then migrated Eastward and have spent many generations in an Arab country in the Middle East. My family still maintains the traditions of the Sephardic Jews - but we have obviously not lived in Spain in hundreds of years. I am curious if I would be considered Hispanic. Please let me know.
Thanks,

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This is a really good question, my family comes from Spain also, the Toledano family is a Jew lastname and we came from Spain to México, I was born in Mexico, where I became Mexican immediately because of the Mexican Constitution. by law any one who is born in Mexico becomes Mexican and there is no further distinction, this is why you could be white, brown or black and you will be just called Mexican, no body will bug you with an ethnic or racial question, which is considered discrimination.

In this country I guess you would be considered Jew. And an American Jew.
Woa.. that's a hard one. Going by the any of the commonly accepted definitions of Hispanic (check here) I would say you are not, since you said that you have not lived in Spain in hundres of years. But in your particular case it has more to do with what you feel are your traditions and culture. You say that your family "maintains the traditions of the Sephardic Jews" and to truly give you a good answer I would have to know what that implies.

I would dare to say that if you feel it in your heart to call yourself Hispanic you have a strong argument to do so. After all, Sephardinc Jews lived for centuries in Spain and they did not leave voluntarily, they were expelled. They did not rejected their hispanics roots, it was the other way around. And I think that in this case, the traditional definiton of "Hispanic" needs to be expended.

By the way, after writing that I did a quick search in google and found out that somebody already asked a question similar to yours in WikiAnswers:

Q: Do Sephardic Jews from Spain or Portugal consider themselves Hispanic or Jewish in America?

A: Sephardic Jews identify as "sephardim," the Hebrew term for Spanish Jewry. Sephardim, by definition, trace their roots back to the Iberian peninsula - Spain and Portugal.

The Sephardim identify as jews, not hispanics. "Hispanic," to the best of my knowledge, intimates that one is not only of Spanish descent, but Christian as well.

Hispanics are anyone who holds a cultural identity with the Iberian peninsula. There are Jewish people in Latin America that are of Ashkenazi origin, but they are still considered Hispanic. Hispanic is an umbrella term that is used to emcompass many people. If a Sephardic Jew feels a strong Hispanic identity, they can choose to identify with the term.


Best regards,

Ulises
Ulises,
Thanks for the response. The answer from Wiki makes no sense. Religion and ethnic background are two very different things. I've had many friends who are Jewish, but consider themselves African-American (race), Hispanic (ethnic), and Asian (race). You definitely do not have to be Christian to identify yourself as any of those.

Also, I would say there are many African-American and Hispanic-Americans who haven't lived in their respective origins for centuries, but since they maintain their "identities," they are obviously still considered those things. We maintain our identity as "Sephardic" Jews, still maintain certain traditions that are associated with that particular ethnic origin - such as dress and food that was shared by Spanish people of that time. I would say that makes me as Hispanic as any other Hispanic. I've also contacted a few agencies about this - and it sounds like since I still identify with that ethnic background, I would be considered Hispanic.
"Thanks for the response. The answer from Wiki makes no sense. Religion and ethnic background are two very different things. I've had many friends who are Jewish, but consider themselves African-American (race), Hispanic (ethnic), and Asian (race). You definitely do not have to be Christian to identify yourself as any of those."

Well, I don't actually know who wrote the Wiki post, but his/her explanation makes sense since it enphasises that Sephardic applies only to Jewish people from the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Is akin to say that I'm a Afro-Dominican since I'm black and was born in the Dominican Republic. That does not implies that all Dominicans are black or that all blacks are Dominican.

"We maintain our identity as "Sephardic" Jews, still maintain certain traditions that are associated with that particular ethnic origin - such as dress and food that was shared by Spanish people of that time. I would say that makes me as Hispanic as any other Hispanic. I've also contacted a few agencies about this - and it sounds like since I still identify with that ethnic background, I would be considered Hispanic."

That's what the Wiki post says (and I happen to agree). It looks that I did explain myself well about this and I actually relate with how you feel about this. I wrote about this in another post, but as a black man living in the U.S. I have often been told that I don't "act black", the reason being that I'm hispanic, I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and so cannot be expected to act as if I was born and raised in the U.S.
I got this in Google, hope to be of help, Saludos.

Related phrases: hispanic american hispanic origin pre hispanic hispanic society of america hispanic impressions pew hispanic center national hispanic institute notable hispanic americans non hispanic on the hispanic war


Definitions of hispanic on the Web:

Spanish American: an American whose first language is Spanish
related to a Spanish-speaking people or culture; "the Hispanic population of California is growing rapidly"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the United States Census Bureau and the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic_(U.S._census)

Hispanic (hispano, hispánico; hispânico; Hispānus, adjective from Hispānia, the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula) is a term that historically denoted relation to the ancient Hispania (geographically coinciding with the Iberian peninsula; modern day Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic

A Spanish-speaking person; A person residing in the United States of Latin American or Spanish descent, generally but not always exclusive of ...
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Hispanic

Hispanicity (Hispanidad) is the community formed by all the people and countries that share a common hispanic-heritage and cultural pattern.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanicity

Hispanicism - A Spanish language item as it appears in another language
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Hispanicism

A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
www.hr.msu.edu/HRsite/forms/FacultyForms/definitionsofracialethnicids

A US citizen of true born Hispanic heritage, from any of the Spanish-speaking areas of Latin America or the following regions: Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Basin only.
https://supplier.intel.com/stt/Definitions.aspx

Things or people that come from Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America.
www.brooklynexpedition.org/structures/glossary_latin.html

Refers to persons who identified themselves in the enumeration or survey process as being Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino. Persons of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity may be of any race.
www.cdc.gov/eLCOSH/docs/d0100/d000038/glossary.html

Over 2,200 years ago, when the Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula, they renamed the place Hispania, which is better known now as España, or Spain . ...
americanhistory.si.edu/collections/mexicanamerica/glossary.html

Persons (based on self-identification) who are descendants of the Spanish settlers in the Southwest; descendants of early immigrants from Mexico; recent immigrants and their descendants from Mexico; Cuban refugees and their descendants; Puerto Ricans; and immigrants and their descendants from ...
archive.elca.org/Research/glossary.html

another term refering to people of Mexican descent; this term is more frequently used to identify themselves by people living in parts of Arizona and Texas.
www.indianahistory.org/programming/immigration/glossary/index.html

is used to refer to modern Spain, to the Spanish language, and to the Spanish-speaking nations of the Americas. [3] [4]
www.tutorgig.com/ed/Hispanics

which was previously the politically correct term, has largely been replaced by Latino or, in some cases, Chicano .
infao5501.ag5.mpi-sb.mpg.de:8080/topx/archive

( in Hispanics in the United States: The US Census of 2000 ) ...in 152 counties. The county with the largest concentration of Hispanics was Los ...
www.britannica.com/bps/fulltext
The decision is yours. According to the US Census, your answer determines your ethnic background. If there is only 0.0000001% of your bloodline from Hispanic origins and you consider yourself Hispanic, then you are Hispanic. You donot have to have ever lived in Spain, Mexico, or any other place in Latin America to consider yourself Hispanic if either one of your parents or grandparents or greatgrandparents and so is Hispanic and You consider yourself Hispanic. Guess what? The answer is Yes.
As mentioned in a previous post, ethnic identification is typically "based on self-identification." Also please recognize that ethnic identification is not either racial or religious identification. Someone who is “Hispanic” can be of any race or religion. However for purposes of college application, some specific criteria of origin seem to be defined by the College Board; at least with regard to the National Hispanic Recognition Program.

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/csearch/where-to-start/199867.html

"What is the NHRP’s definition of Hispanic/Latino?

To qualify for this program, you must be at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino. Hispanic/Latino is an ethnic category, not a racial category, and you may be of any race. For purposes of the NHRP, you must be from a family whose ancestors came from at least one of these countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, or Venezuela."

I would also refer you to the book "Hispanic Culture and Character of the Sephardic Jews" by Mair Jose Benardete (ISBN10: 0872031004 ISBN13: 9780872031005). Benadrete was Director of Columbia University's Hispanic Institute (Casa Hispanica) Sephardic Studies Section (Seccion de Estudios Sefardies), and the recent book "Sephardic Jews in America" by Aviva Ben-Ur.

Additionally, please consider the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s finding, in the case of Doctor Alfred Bennun v. RUTGERS STATE UNIVERSITY, that the plaintiff’s “uncontroverted assertion that his father is a Sephardic Jew meets the dictionary definition of Hispanic.”

Lastly, in deciding your ethnic identity you should consider the extent to which you or your family has maintained some connection with your Spanish roots. Is Judaeo-Spanish (Ladino), or Spanish, spoken or identified with, or used in religious ritual in any way? Is Ladino music, cuisine, or culture something you identify with or have had exposure to? Do you feel you affiliate or connect with a Spanish identity or Spanish people, in any way?

Sephardic Jews maintained a Spanish culture, and a Spanish language, throughout 500 years of forced exile from Spain. If you feel Hispanic, you have every right, no…an obligation…, to claim it!
Hola Mark que parte de Latinoamerica es tu familia para contestarte si tu eres considerado Hispano. Yo soy del Peru, donde en la segunda Guerra Mundial invandieron los Judios. En Peru hay mucho Judio-Peruano que sigue la tradicion religiosa de los Judios y son considerados Hispanos. Me gustaria saber tu especializacion porque yo estudiado sociologia y para consejeria de Drogas and alcohol. No se si tu has escuchado que los Hispanos son mas respetuosos que los Americanos Tu crees eso? Me gustaria saber si tu ensenas en la universidad o college. Por ejemplo, en Peru, la gente normalmente somos respetuosas especialmente en las clases de la universidad o college. Aqui me dado con mucha sorpresa que un professor puede hablar malas palabras, grocerias en el salon de clase. Realmente me impresiono mucho eso. El professor se justifico que usaba como mechanismo de defensa.

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