jews of color · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · language · learning · Riverdale

Praying in Spanish?

So, a while back I was complaining that I didn’t have enough Latino friends who I could talk to in Spanish. For the first time in my life, I have more white friends (Jewish and non-Spanish speakers) than Latino friends and while that’s cool and all, I’d really like to have people who relate to me culturally and ethnically even if it’s just so we can commiserate over our need to curse in Spanish (it sounds better!).

A bunch of us Dominican Jews started a clique here in Riverdale which was rather aptly named Dominyan (get it? Dominican minyan?) but we haven’t met up in quite a while. All of the other members have big, burgeoning families and it’s not so easy to stay connected outside of Facebook.
Now, you should know, I rarely pray for myself. I pray for other people’s health, for other people’s love lives and even for other people’s parking spots but almost never for myself. I can more easily bang out “find my husband a parking spot before he freezes on a Riverdale street corner) than I can ask G-d for something as simple as sending me a Spanish-speaking friend.
Luckily, even when you don’t pray directly, G-d can hear ya.
And that’s how I ended up with not one but TWO Spanish-speaking converts who need my help. (If you’re an Orthodox Judio Latino in Washington Heights, you can help too! Drop me a line!) Their English isn’t so good and so our conversations are completely in Spanish. I get in a lot of “ums” and “How do you say…?” and I even sound drunk as I slur over the multisyllabic words. Really, it’s ingenious that in one shot, I get to help someone Jewishly and practice my Spanish with people who are so grateful they rarely laugh at me when I make mistakes. It makes me feel like I’m covering a lot of bases.

In the meantime, I’m struggling to find Spanish Jewish resources–everything from Spanish speaking rabbis to Spanish websites, CDs and books–so I can help these two women. I’ve managed to cobble together this list thanks to fans but I could use more. I’m even inspired to get a Spanish-Hebrew siddur. For some reason praying in Spanish sounds way cooler than praying in Hebrew or English.

Check out these Spanish Jewish resources:
Chabad in Español!

Aish Latino

Get Spanish Jewish books here: Sefarad Judaica and here: Kehot Publication Society

Hillel in Spanish: Texas A&M Hillel Foundation (Texas A&M has attracted Jews from Latin American countries and Texas A&M Hillel also has a spanish language section on its website. Texas A&M Hillel has also attracted some interest among Mexican-Americans with Jewsih ancestors who want to reconnect to Judaism.)

Spanish Jewish stuff from Bar Ilan University:

Blogging in Spanglish: Sephardic Food blog

(Conservative) Rabbi Juan Mejia’s site:

(Reform) Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn’s website:
Connect with other Jewish Latinos: Judios Latinos (Check out the corresponding Facebook groups too:

Judios Latinos NYC

Interfaith Family Group for Latino Jews

(Conservative) Rabbi Joshua Kullock gives online Tanakh classes in Spanish

Spanish Jewish synagogues and/or synagogues with lots of Spanish-speaking Jews:

(Reform) Temple Beth Shmuel-Cuban Hebrew Congregation, Cuban-Jewish synagogue in Miami

(Orthodox) Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue in New York City

(Orthodox) Lincoln Park Jewish Center in Yonkers, NY and check out the related Spanish language Torah center in Yonkers, El Centro run by Rabbi Manny Viñas.

If you’ve got stuff to add to the list, comment and I’ll put it up!
(Update: So cool, in less than 6 hours since I started searching, I’ve already managed to find some Orthodox Judio Latinos in Washington Heights. It’s networking time! Hooray!)

7 thoughts on “Praying in Spanish?

  1. My Spanish is abysmal, but I grew up in a predominantly hispanic community (Miami, FL – Kendall area), and my dad is Jewish, my mom converted Reform and I'm in the beginning stages of the conversion process myself… While my family was gringo through and through… I'm reaching. I can at least swear in Spanish. 🙂

    Of course, I'm in Cincinnati, no where near NY. It's way past my bedtime. Don't mind me.


  2. B”H

    Chabad (besides their website which you linked to) has some good spanish publications. “Toward a Meaningful Life”, by Rabbi Simon Jacobson, which is supposed to be great (I've never read it myself), I beleive is is Spanish. (Not actually published by Chabad I think, so it might not be on the site). Kehot's (chabad's main publishing arm) Spanish section:

    Hatzlocho (success)!


  3. I have some things for you:
    –she blogs partially in Spanish, because she lives in Spain.

    This group on our site: (predominantly non-Ortho right now)

    Joshua Kullock, a Conservative rabbi from Argentina who serves a community in Guadalajara, has online Tanakh classes in Spanish:

    I know him from Twitter and he might have more Spanish-language resources.


  4. Hola, en Los Angeles está la Congregacion del Rab. Daniel Mehlman quien da apoyo a judios latinos en espaniol, el es nuestro Rabino aquí en Mexicali BC.
    Beth Meier, the House of Light, is an inclusive, egalitarian, traditional Conservative synagogue open to all. Rabbi Daniel Mehlman welcomes you to be a part of our extended mishpacha. Connect with each other and with G-d in a place where joy happens.


  5. We'd love to find more Judios hispano-hablantes in the Washington DC area. Our son was born in Guatemala and we're raising him bilingually — making him Jewishly bilingual is a part of that effort. The Kehot website has a great kids CD – Tanaji — songs about various stories from the Tanach en espanol.


  6. Just a note – Beth Shmuel Cuban congregation (Miami Beach) is Conservative/Traditional. Also the Orthodox community has been known to hold many events and simchas at their beautiful shul. They have a good relationship with the Orthodox community (something you don't always see between the Conservative & Orthodox)


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