EDLP — Rachael Figueroa-Levin, the woman behind Miguel Bloombito—the Twitter parody of Mayor Michael Bloomberg—is a self-described Jewyorican. That’s a combination of Jewish and a New York Puerto Rican.
It’s neither the most common mix nor surprising in a town that’s known for its Puerto Rican and Jewish communities.
Take journalist, commentator and lawyer Geraldo Rivera. Raised in Brooklyn and Long Island, Rivera was born to a Puerto Rican father and Jewish mother.
Poet and writer Aurora Levin-Morales reflects the same background. From different continents and classes, both sides of her family found themselves in the same working class experience, as Levin-Morales describes in her blog: “I am a Puerto Rican Jew born of Ukrainian Jews fleeing war and repression to become sweatshop organizers in 1910s New York, and landed gentry from Naranjito, turned working class migrants in 1930s Harlem and the Bronx, landing in the same garment shops a generation later.”
For Leo Glickman, a Jewyorican raised in Long Island, navigating prejudice was a part of growing up. “Most of the culture we experienced as kids was Puerto Rican. But to the outside world, we were the Glickmans, a nice Jewish family with whom non-Latinos could share their prejudices,” Glickman said. “I spent a good part of my childhood nervously figuring out ways to work ‘we’re Puerto Rican’ into conversations just so people would know to keep their racism to themselves.”
Glickman recounted a story of how his fiercely proud Boricua mother eased up on a neighbor who made a stupid Puerto Rican joke. “After we received two notes of apology, flowers and a basket of fruit, she was invited to our annual Christmas party,” Glickman recalled. “Thinking she was being nice and taking an interest in my mother’s background she asked ‘do many Puerto Ricans still wear hula skirts?’ It was funny to listen to my mom explain nicely that was a Hawaiian thing, which is an island very far away from Puerto Rico.”
Oy vey…hopefully, today more people know the difference between Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
In the meantime, we couldn’t help but notice yet another Boricua-Jewish merger, this time of Puerto Rican soup with matza riceballs. Watch that recipe unfold here.