Did N.Y. State Senate hopeful Julia Salazar lie about being Jewish?

The following article Controversy regarding Julia Salazar was brought to my attention by a reader of this website. I read the article and found it fascinating. In response to the reader’s inquiry regarding this article, I wrote the following response. It does not address all the points mentioned in the article, but I hope it proves beneficial to those interested in the B’nei Anusim/Crypto-Jewish experience.
As most people quickly discover, there is a differentiation between Jewish identity expressed in different areas of life. What may be considered Jewish in one context does not by default translate into another sphere.
Rav Soloveitchik’s letter was fascinating though it arguably contained some contradictions. Nevertheless, one could argue that he did have a basis for his letter. The rationale for his position is derived from various rabbinic responsa, though most communities do not follow this approach today. In fact, most Orthodox synagogues would not accept his position and insist on a giur l’chumra or some type of formal return process.
While every case is different and every individual should be treated well, without knowing the particulars of this case, I think that making such assertions about identity and espousing challenging political perspectives regarding Medinat Israel is a stretch by Ms. Salazar.
If the person, under whatever terms, has been accepted into some Jewish community, and has some record of their commitment to the welfare of the Jewish community as controversial as their political positions may be, then there status as a Jew has more weight, even if the community in question does not conform to orthodox halakhah.
I always tell benei anusim, ” you tell me you are Jewish. Fine. prove it. Not through documents or genealogy but by a fidelity to Jewish life and the people of Israel.”
I challenge them to learn, become committed to Jewish life, and demonstrate the claims they wholeheartedly believe are true.

Posted by Rabbi Juan Bejarano Gutierrez the director of the B’nei Anusim Center for Education. For a more complete review of Iberian Jewish history and the Crypto- Jewish Experience see  Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism.

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