I have the best of both worlds as a Latina Jew. My dual identity has influenced who I am.



March 18, 2019

“I’m Jewish and Latina. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. Being Jewish and Spanish has influenced who I am — my personality, the foods I like, my values. I grew up in a traditional Modern Orthodox home in Hollywood, Fla. I attended Jewish private school my whole life, spent almost every weekend at synagogue for Shabbat and was active in NCSY. During my senior of high school, I was recruited for the varsity fencing team at Cornell University. I was worried about my rooming situation. I wanted to room with someone who understood me, and luckily I found a roommate who is also a Hispanic Jew. I was also worried about religious life on campus. Would I be able to be as observant as I was at home? But Cornell Hillel gave me a sense of comfort. I learned that Hillel organized Shabbat services and dinner every week. I met other students and staff who were like me. And that gave me a sense of comfort. My involvement with Hillel has maximized my experience as a Jewish student on campus.” — Esther Bentolila, Cornell University