San Francisco’s ties with the Hispanic community run long and deep. Obviously, Native Americans were the first settlers there and Spanish missionaries arrived in 1776, back when it was called Yerba Buena. California was once part of Mexico and then became a part of the U.S. in 1821 as much of the southwestern U.S. did. It’s this diverse history and complicated past with colonialism that has led to years of trying to fix the present in response to the past.
San Francisco city officials have announced they will seek to rename a street tied to a controversial figure and change it to Frida Kahlo.
The street that will be changed is currently Phelan Avenue, named after former San Francisco Mayor James D. Phelan who governed the city between 1897 to 1902. While Phelan has been referred to as a multimillionaire philanthropist that supported artists and writers in San Francisco, he was also instrumental at issuing immigrants out of the city.
Phelan ran a notorious senate campaign (which he won) that had the slogan “Keep California White.”
In 1912, he wrote: “This is a whiteman’s country. We cannot make a homogeneous population out of people who do not blend with the Caucasian race.”
Frida Kahlo Way will be located right in front of City College of San Francisco. The street name change is expected to happen in the next two weeks, according to KQED.
“At a time when the country is rethinking who deserves to have statues and parks named after them, [having] a street that an institution like City College is on named after someone whose family left a legacy of racism, doesn’t reflect [our] values,” City College English professor Alisa Messer told the San Francisco Examiner last week.
Frida Kahlo and her partner Diego Rivera both have a strong connection to San Francisco.
Although Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in most Latin American countries, we all know by now that Latino culture is not a monolith. In fact, Latinidad comes in all shapes and forms, and it’s a total misconception that all Latinos are Catholics. Latinos follow a variety of religions, from Islam to Buddhism to Judaism. And while most people don’t think of Judaism when they think of Latin America, there is, in fact, a small but proud population of Jewish peoples living throughout Latinidad.
Although the Jewish population in Latin America is relatively small (only an estimated 300,000), Jewish Latinos keep their culture alive through tradition and a strong sense of community. The largest Jewish community resides in Argentina, which is considered to be the “center of the Jewish population in Latin America”. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of famous and influential Jewish Latinos who have made their unique mark on the world. Take a look below!
1. Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was both proud and vocal of her Jewish ancestry at a time when Anti-Semitism was at its height in Mexico. According to Kahlo, her father, Guillermo Kahlo, was a Hungarian-Jew who immigrated to Mexico. In fact, many of Frida’s work have been displayed at Jewish art exhibits.
2. Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky’s father is El Salvadoran–born to Jewish-German immigrants who fled Germany during WWII to escape persecution from the Nazi regime.
3. Daniel Bucatinsky
Beloved “Scandal” actor Daniel Bucatinsky was born in New York City to Argentine-Jewish parents. Bucatinsky has been candid about how his “roots” are in Argentina and how he speaks Spanish fluently. You can even catch him speaking Spanish to his fans on Twitter.
4. Sammy Davis Jr.
One of the most talented and charismatic performers of the infamous “Rat Pack”, Sammy Davis Jr. was a Latino born to an Afro-Cuban mother. Citing a strong connection to the Jewish faith due to its people’s history of oppression, Davis Jr. converted to Judaism in 1961 and remained devout until his death.
5. William Levy
Cuban actor and all-around heartthrob William Levy was born in Cojimar to a single mother, Barbara Levy of Jewish descent. At the reported urging of his friends, he converted to Catholicism in 2009
6. Diego Rivera
Celebrated artist and husband to the venerable Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter Diego Rivera was descended from a Portuguese-Jewish family. Of his roots, Rivera said: “My Jewishness is the dominant element in my life. From this has come my sympathy with the downtrodden masses which motivates all my work”.
7. David Blaine
Born to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Russian-Jewish descent, famed magician and illusionist David Blaine is of both Jewish and Latino heritage.
8. Geraldo Rivera
Journalist and television personality Geraldo Rivera was born to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Russian-Jewish descent. He was raised “mostly Jewish” and had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Rivera affectionately describes himself as “Jew-Rican”.
9. Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars was born in Hawaii to a father of mixed Puerto Rican and Ashkenazi Jewish descent, while his mother is Filipino. Mars has referred to his ethnicity as existing in a “gray zone” of neither black nor white. Of his ethnicity, Mars has said: “I hope people of color can look at me, and they know that everything they’re going through, I went through. I promise you.”
10. Sara Paxton
Sara Paxton was born to Lucia Menchaca Zuckerman and Steve Paxton in Los Angeles. Paxton’s mother was originally from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, where she was raised in a Jewish family. Paxton’s father has since converted to Judaism.
11. Cecilia Roth
Acclaimed Argentine actress and “muse” of Pedro Almodóvar, Cecilia Roth was born to parents Abrasha Rotenberg and Dina Gutkin in Buenos Aires. Like many European Jews in the 1930s, Roth’s father fled Europe to escape the rising tide of anti-Antisemitism.
12. Eduardo Saverin
Facebook co-founder, tech entrepreneur and multi-billionaire Eduardo Luiz Saverin was born in São Paulo, Brazil to a wealthy Jewish family. In 1993, the Saverin family immigrated to Miami. Interestingly enough, he was portrayed by the British actor Andrew Garfield in the acclaimed movie “The Social Network”.
13. Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Known for her role as the spoiled daughter Meadow on “The Sopranos”, Jamie-Lynn Sigler was born to a Cuban mother and a Jewish father. Sigler’s mother converted to Judaism upon marrying Sigler’s father. Sigler has revealed that being raised Jewish, she both attended Hebrew school and had a bat mitzvah.
14. Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix was born in Puerto Rico to a Jewish mother and a (lapsed) Catholic father. At the time, his parents were acting as missionaries for the cult “Children of God”. Phoenix’s father currently lives in Costa Rica. Of his Latino roots, Phoenix says, “I do like Spanish culture…I like to practice my Spanish when I am working with any actor who speaks Spanish or with members of the crew”.
15. Don Francisco
Cultural stalwart and host of Univision’s “Sábado Gigante”, Don Francisco was born in Chile to German-Jewish immigrants who fled their home country to escape the Nazi regime.
16. Gabe Saporta
Cobra Starship lead singer Gabe Saporta was born in Uruguay to a Jewish family. Like many of the entries on this list, Saporta’s grandparents fled Europe during the WWII era to escape anti-antisemitism. His Instagram bio currently reads “I was a terror since the hebrew school era” and he frequently interacts with fans on the account in Spanish.
17. Joanna Hausmann
Joanna Hausmann is Venezuelan-American comedian, Youtuber, and TV personality. Hausmann is the daughter of Venezuelan intellectual and Harvard professor Ricardo Hausmann and CNN en Español host, Ana Julia Jatar. Hausmann has a series of videos called “Joanna Rants” on Flama where she covers a variety of issues affecting Latindad–from differences in accents to cultural stereotyping.
18. Kayla Maisonet
Known for playing the sporty sister in Disney Channel’s “Stuck in the Middle”, Kayla Masionet is a biracial actress of Puerto Rican and Russian-Jewish descent. On dealing with criticism in the industry, Maisonet has revealed that she chooses to embrace what makes her different as opposed to “conform[ing] to what people say I should do”.
Sometimes, home isn’t just where the heart is, it’s where you pack it up and move it. San Francisco resident Tim Brown seems to know this truth after buying a home in 2013 and moving it to a new location.
The 139-year-old Victorian house was moved in one piece through the streets of San Francisco to a new location.
The 5,170-square-foot house was relocated from its original address at 807 Franklin St. to 635 Fulton St., just a few blocks away.
Brown bought the home in 2013 with plans to repair it after it fell into disrepair. According to Hoodline, the house has six bedrooms and three baths and “will be relocated to 635 Fulton Street, where an existing building, which housed Bryant Mortuary for nearly 60 years, has already been moved to the eastern side of the 10,415-square-foot site to make room for it. The move is currently slated to occur on February 21, barring any rain delays.”
The house will be combined and turned into a 17-unit apartment building according to a report by SF Gate. A 47-unit apartment complex will be built in the house’s previous lot.
According to users on Twitter, the house’s move became somewhat of a parade as onlookers came out to watch a truck slowly move the historic house.
“It’s the most excitement I’ve had in 10 years. What if it topples?” Camilla Blomqvist said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to Phil Joy, a veteran house mover, the house’s quarter-mile move took several years to plan.
According to Joy, the move was particularly difficult because the house was 80 feet in length and part of the path required going downhill.
“We had to get 15 different city agencies to agree to this,” Joy explained about the house which cost Brown nearly $400,000 in moving costs and fees.