The Sephardic Latinx Oral History Project

The Sephardic Latinx Oral History Project, a collaboration between the University of Houston and Holocaust Museum Houston’s Latinx Initiatives Program, explores Sephardic Latinx history using oral histories.

Through Dr. Mark Goldberg’s Latina/o Jewish History course, University of Houston students conducted original video recorded interviews with historical subjects and built a museum exhibit on Sephardic Latinx history. By engaging with community members throughout the project, giving them a space to tell their story in their own words, and shine a spotlight on their histories in the public, students learned firsthand how the past continues to matter to underrepresented communities whose history has remained largely overshadowed in society.

In partnership with Holocaust Museum Houston, the Sephardic Latinx Oral History Project is archived on HMH’s Latinx Initiatives webpage for community use. This project is a continuation of the Museum’s ongoing efforts to support Latinx representation in museum spaces.

The Sephardic Latinx Oral History Project features original oral history interviews conducted by UH students: Alena Aguilar, Lauren Bautista, Juliana Cotlar, Tina Gutierrez, Hallie Hanna, Max Hosaka, Rebeca Perez, Carla Paterson Mora, Lynnex Rougeaux, Miranda Ruzinsky, Raquel Sanchez, Skylar Stevenson, Estefany Torres, Nayelli Vigil, and Karlos Villafana.  

The Sephardic Latinx Oral History Project is generously supported by a grant from the Cougar Initiative to Engage

jewish studies primary
The Butterfly Project
Sephardic Latinx Oral History Interview [from L to R] Estefany Torres, Alena Aguilar, Jacob Varon, Karlos Villafana
Sephardic Latinx Oral History Interview [from L to R] Miranda Ruzinsky, Lucy Graubard, Carla Peterson Mora
Sephardic Latinx Oral History Interview [from top L, clockwise] Rebeca Perez, Tina Gutierrez, Hallie Hanna, Adriana Fallas


Ana Eigler, a first-generation social worker and educator, discusses her experiences immigrating to the United States, adapting to a new culture, and channeling her Venezuelan/Jewish roots. Eigler describes her transition to American customs as a slight shock compared to what she was used to in her hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. She had an established career in Venezuela. Furthering her education and finding a place in the Jewish community where she felt comfortable were struggles upon arrival. Eigler discusses gender roles, marriage and family, antisemitism and anti-Latinx racism, and being Jewish and Latina in Houston. She overcame many obstacles in her life back in Venezuela and in the United States that have shaped her into the person she is now.

Download the video transcript [PDF]


Adriana Fallas is a Sephardic Jew and Latinx artist who works with clay, making ceramics and mosaics. She discusses her ancestors’ origin stories and migration from Syria and Turkey to Buenos Aires, Argentina, describing their settlement process, occupations, and the challenges they faced, including discrimination. Fallas describes the relationship between the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities in Buenos Aires and Houston and how her Sephardi and Latina identities blended within her family, art, and community. She expresses her conception of Jewishness and its impact on her childhood and marriage, as she grew up in a predominantly Ashkenazi community and is married to an Ashkenazi man. Fallas discusses passing down both of her heritages onto her daughters, through language, food, and art, and she outlines how her ceramic mates, menorahs, and mosaics represent her Argentinian and Jewish heritage.

Download the video transcript [PDF]


Dr. Lucy Graubard discusses her life as a person of both Latinx and Sephardic/Ashkenazi Jewish descent in the Mexico City community of her childhood and the city of Houston in her youth and later years. Before the age of 13, she attended both public and private educational institutions in Mexico City. Within her familial and public spheres, she participated in Jewish and Mexican customs and traditions. Her family decided to immigrate to Houston, and at the age of 13, Lucy settled into the United States. She relates her experiences within the Houston Jewish community and how her family integrated into their new lifestyle. She joined Jewish youth groups, attended synagogue, went to a Jewish school, and connected with fellow Latinx Jews within the Hebraica organization. She married a Colombian Jewish immigrant, who she met through social and religious connections. She speaks about her decision to continue the Jewish observance in her own nuclear family and teach her kids Spanish. Food remains a common theme throughout her life in which she chooses to express and connect to her Jewish and Latinx roots. She speaks about her fluid identity among both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities within Mexico City and Houston.

Download the video transcript [PDF]


Rabbi Daniel Masri was born and raised in Mexico City until his emigration at seven years old. His parents met when they crossed paths in New York City. They eventually moved to Mexico City, where Masri’s father lived. Masri’s mother had a hard time adjusting to living in Mexico, while raising her kids in a foreign country. When Masri was seven years old, the family moved to New York City. It was a completely different lifestyle, but it helped that Masri’s mom was American, and she made his transitions easier. After moving, they didn’t lose their Mexican culture and identity, as, for example, they still made Mexican dishes. Masri’s Sephardic Jewish background and New York’s substantial Jewish community helped him identify more with his religion. He was always involved in synagogues and the broader community since his dad was a rabbi. He moved out of New York City when he was a young adult and found himself in Houston. The Sephardic community wasn’t as large as New York City’s, but what he saw in Houston was perfect for him.

Download the video transcript [PDF]


Jacques Rodriguez is a Latino Jewish architect, who helped establishe Hebraica Houston with the intention of providing Latin American Jewish immigrants a communal foundation in Houston. Rodríguez was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and because of economic instability, he and his family decided to immigrate to Santiago, Chile. After he received his college education in Chile, Rodriguez immigrated to Houston to earn his master’s degree at Rice University in Architecture, with a focus on Urban Design. Rodriguez explains how when he arrived to Houston, he met other Jewish Chileans and connected with Jews from various Latin American countries, including Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. After helping develop Hebraica, there was less of a need for the organization in the 1990s because of the decline of Latinx Jewish immigrants. Rodrigues maintains hope that the Latinx Jewish community will continue to thrive, congregate, and share resources.

Download the video transcript [PDF]


Jacob Varon describes his childhood growing up in Mexico City, under the guidance of Sephardic and Ashkenazi parents. His upbringing in a unified and diverse Jewish community shaped his identity as a proud Jewish Latino. He immigrated to Houston to pursue his medical studies in hopes to one day return to Mexico City and develop his medical career. After his surgery training, he decided to stay in Houston. He felt welcomed in this new American context yet noticed a lack of community among Jewish Latin Americans in Houston. He speaks about his activism in Mexico City and Houston, and he helped build Hebraica Houston, which brought together Jewish immigrants from across Latin America. He further details the desire for a new Hebraica to unite the Jewish Latinx community in the United States.

Download the video transcript [PDF]