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Mexican author’s novels explore Sephardic history and crypto-Judaism

TJI Pick
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Published: 7 January 2022

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Jewish writer Angelina Muñiz Huberman was recently inducted into the Mexican Academy of Language, the country's most prestigious literary body

WHEN ANGELINA MUÑIZ HUBERMAN was six years old, her mother shut the main door of their apartment in Mexico City and, whispering as if under persecution, told her that she descended from Jews. 

“She told me that if I ever needed to get recognized by other fellow Jews,” Huberman said, “I should make the sign of the Kohanim” — a hand gesture representing an ancient priestly blessing, made famous in a different context by a certain “Star Trek” character.

That moment sparked a keen interest in her family’s Jewish heritage, which would set her on the path to becoming one of Mexico’s best-known novelists on Jewish themes and foremost scholars on Sephardim and Crypto-Judaism — people who were forced to renounce or hide their Jewishness in the face of the Spanish Inquisition.

Last month, Huberman, 84, was inducted into Mexico’s most prestigious literary body, the Mexican Academy of Language, which was established decades after Mexican independence to protect and promote Mexican intonations and uses of Spanish. 

Earning membership in the 36-chair academic body is a highly selective process in which new members need to be voted in by current ones.

Of the nine women members of the board, four have Jewish ancestry; some, such as the writer Margo Glanz, daughter of the Yiddish poet Jacobo Glanz, have actively dealt with their Jewish ancestry in their most important texts. 

But Huberman’s work stands out because of her research on Ladino, an old form of Judeo-Spanish spoken by Sephardic Jews after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula. Besides being a pioneer in Sephardic studies in Mexico and researching crypto-Jews such as those in her family, Huberman has also focused on mystical Jewish traditions, including kabbalah.

FULL STORY Angelina Muñiz Huberman’s Novels Explore Sephardic History and Crypto-Judaism (JTA/Hey Alma)

Photo: Jewish News Syndicate

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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