By Victoria Brito, Special to the Star
Jillian Glantz, a senior political science major at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, knows how to seize an opportunity.
Glantz, a Dallas native, recently took a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the IGNITE Young Women Run 2019 Conference, aimed at empowering young women to run for office. And while she was there, she made a side trip to the Library of Congress to submit a documentary she has made, for inclusion in the catalogue there.
Her self-produced documentary, “Remember My Soul,” tells the story of Jewish roots in northern Mexico and South Texas.
“It explores the history of how Jewish settlers got to the Valley and the borderlands region, andlooks at some of their popular customs and how those customs lost their origins,” Glantz said.
The documentary also details how Jewish settlers in the region lived in secrecy and practiced their religion in private while posing as Catholics.
“Not very many people know about this,” Glantz said, “especially here in South Texas.There is only a littleknown of this history.”
She said she is interested in the topic in part because her father’s side of the family is Jewish and her mother’s side is Christian.They celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah when she was growing up, she said, and the topic illustrates the importance of knowing one’s roots.
“A lot of people in South Texas are descended from these Jewish families,but they don’t know it because it was a secret,” she said. “The contemporary Jewish community in the Valley has always gotten along very well with the Hispanic community.They have always had a very peaceful coexistence.
“I think that relationship is a really great role model of how everyone, all the different groups, can get along,” she said.
The documentary can be found in the Israel and Judaica Section Video Collection at the Library of Congress.
Glantz wason an email list for an organization that deals with the Crypto Judaism –the secret adherence to Judaism while publicly claiming to be of another faith– and in one of their emails, she saw that the Library of Congress was working to expand its collection.
“I got very lucky,” she said. “They were looking for material, and I contacted the contact person and it worked out really well.”
In addition to majoring in political science, Glantz is minoring in criminal justice and Mexican American studies. She began her research on Judaism years ago, and when she received a grant from the Texas Jewish Historical Societyin April 2017, she began work onthe documentary project. She completed it in fall 2017 as an UTRGV Engaged Scholar recipient.