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