Community Event Draws Strong Attendance from Washington Heights Residents and Local Leaders
On September 8, Yeshiva University and members of the Latino community of Washington Heights came together for Nosotros, an art exhibit and concert that celebrated the common heritage and cultural connections between the Jewish and Latino communities.
The event occurred in YU’s Weissberg Commons auditorium and drew an impressive crowd of 225 people, including community leaders such as Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University; Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13); New York State Assemblyman Manny de Los Santos (D-72); New York State Senator Robert Jackson (D-31); and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.
The event featured kosher Dominican food, an art exhibit and a musical performance from the Jazzphardic Project with Yehonatan Elazar – a multi-instrumentalist born in Miami to a family of Caribbean Sephardic Jews – and Grammy award-winning jazz pianist Tal Cohen. The Jazzphardic Project explores Sephardic classics through the modes of Latin jazz, bringing together east, west, past, and present.
As reflected in the exhibition’s title, Nosotros which means “Us” in Spanish, aims to convey the parallel histories, common aspirations, and shared values of Jewish, Sephardic, and Latino communities, a connection that dates back millennia.
Sephardic Jews have their roots in the Iberian Peninsula and following their expulsion from Spain in 1492, they created a vibrant global diaspora eventually finding refuge throughout Latin America, becoming a vital and integral part of their societies.
There are currently sizeable Jewish populations in many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Panama. A large percentage of YU’s international students hail from these countries and are active members of YU’s growing Sephardic programming.
Dr. Ronnie Perelis, event organizer and Director of The Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program for International Affairs at Yeshiva University, shared “the creative synergy between Judaism and Hispanic culture goes back over a thousand years and we believe that the story is still being written.”
The Nosotros event was organized by the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program for International Affairs at YU in partnership with the Philos Project, a community of Christian leaders who advocate for pluralism in the Near East.
Jesse Rojo, Washington Heights native and Director of Philos Latino, explained “this year’s exhibition is in many respects a homecoming for both myself and the gallery. I was born and raised in the Washington Heights community, and this is the first time that Nosotros took place in a historically Judeo-Latino community. This is why we were thrilled about partnering with Yeshiva University which is one of the most iconic landmarks in our neighborhood. I am very proud that together, we have used art and history to create new connections and friendships between Jews and Latinos.”
This event was sponsored by the American Sephardi Federation, Yeshiva College, Care Café at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Bernard Revel Graduate School, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program, YU Libraries, Stern College Judaic Studies, International Club, Music Club, and YUPAC.