Rafael Nadal: “Doesn’t matter for me if I am Jewish or not. But I am not”

Photo: Howard Blas

The name “Parera,” notes Simcha Jacobovici (a filmmaker and Times of Israel blogger), means pear tree, and is a common converso or convert name. “It’s the kind of ‘neutral’ name the newly baptized Jews adopted in the 15th century. Names like Parera, Torres, and Medina usually reflect a hidden Jewish past.” Does Rafael Nadal Parera know any of this? Jacobovici doesn’t know.

How could a journalist find out the real story? Given Nadal’s popularity and the nature of pro tennis events, it is nearly impossible to gain access to ask him directly. But here at the US Open, I hoped to find an opportunity to do so. I worried that the question might be inappropriate, out of context, embarrassing or even hurtful. Since I would not be granted an exclusive interview, I would need to ask the question in a crowded, post-match press conference.

I asked several experienced writers, including a woman who has been covering the US Open for 35 years. She said, “It is a fair question” and suggested I ask it toward the end of the Thursday press conference.

At the 10:50 p.m. press conference in media room 1, English and Spanish speaking writers and photographers assembled. We were told Nadal would first answer questions in English, then in Spanish. I asked mine: “It’s been reported recently that there might be some Jewish heritage in your family. Can you please comment?”

Nadal, who speaks English beautifully, apparently struggled to understand a word. A tennis official translated “Judio,” Jewish. Nadal hesitated, paused, and answered:

That’s not true. Really doesn’t matter for me. Doesn’t matter if I am or am not. But is not the case. I am not.

Source: Howard Blas / Times Of Israel


  1. He is not jewish nor does have any jewish ancestry, end of story! It’s ridiculous to even to suggest that. Surname Parera is one of the most common surnames in Spain and just because it was used as jewish converso name does certainly not mean that everyone who has that surname is automatically jewish. Torres is also a jewish converso name for example, and how many people with Torres surname are actually jewish or have jewish ancestry? Not too many I would imagine. It’s nothing more than some jew’s wild fantasy and wishful thinking, a non-story. Rafa himself has even confirmed that he is NOT jewish. He’s 100% Spanish, always has been and always will be. Vamos Rafa!!!

    • Of course he is a Spanish national. That doesn’t eliminate the possibility that he is of Jewish ancestry, at least in part.
      Many Spaniards have Jewish blood pulsing through their veins.
      It’s time to recognize and respect that part of our heritage. Mazel tov!

  2. The press are too busy body to ask such a question! They are trying all ways to disturb the peace of Nadal. Are they jealous of his top performance? Regardless of what family background Rafael Nadal has, he is forever our best star and we love him the same. Nadal, let the peace be with you always.

  3. Sounds like wild speculation. Nice self publicity for Jacobovici. I recall some Jews are black from Africa would Mr. Jacobovici like to comment for the record?

  4. Rafa is a man of the world so whether he is a jew, an arab, an asian, a black, a russian, it really doesn’t make any difference to why we love him. He is Majorcan and we love him because he is Rafael Nadal, the most charismatic, colorful tennis player and who happens to be the best in my opinion. Love Rafael Nadal!

    • Para mi es el mejor deportista de todos los tiempos. Tanto como persona como deportista.Es una gran referencia para toda clase de personas sobre todo para la juventud. No cambies Rafa.que eso es lo que te engrandece, ser siempre igual. En casa te queremos hasta mi nietecilla con dos añitos- ¡¡¡¡ VAMOS RAFA !!!!

      • Rafa’s response was appropriate. The response of many of his fans (take for instance the first three responses-particularly the first one) who clearly think it would diminish his standing as a Spaniard if he were Jewish is troubling. “Some jew’s wild fantasy.” I can only imagine why more Sephardic Jews did not move back to Spain when invited.

    • Nothing offensive about being asked if he (or anyone) is Jewish at all, it just merits a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, as Rafa has well given. It’s just not anyone’s business, nor is it relevant to tennis or who he is as a person.

  5. People in Spain have officially two last names. The first one comes from father’s side and the second – from mother’s.
    ‘Nadal’ is Rafa father’s last name and it means ‘Christmas’ in Catalan (Mallorquin?) language.

    Parera is his mother’s last name. Parera seems to be a common last name in Spain.
    Rafa’s native language is Mallorquin – the language of Mallorca – similar to Catalan language.

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