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Sean Paul

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2004-02-13

Sean Paul

Sean Paul

As one of the hottest stars of reggae, Sean Paul has amassed considerable fame and fortune. But behind the hits lies a Sephardi heritage, from his Portuguese ancestors. SJ finds out more about Sean Paul's Jewish connection. 

Reggae star Sean Paul has been a regular fixture in the charts over the past 12 months with such hits as Breathe and I’m Still In Love With You, to say nothing of his album Dutty Rock (which recently won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album)

However, it now transpires that Sean is of Sephardic descent. The son of a Jewish father (whose Portuguese family emigrated to Jamaica in the 17th Century) and Chinese-Jamaican mother, he was born Sean Paul Henriques in January 1975.

What’s more, he was a pupil at the island’s Hillel Academy, a non-religious school funded by the local Jewish community. But here at SJ we can think of even more signs pointing to Sean’s background…

Six Things That Tell Us Why Sean Paul Is Jewish

1. He went to Hillel Academy in Jamaica. As a student of Hillel, Sean Paul can say he is an alumnus of Hillel, no doubt entitling him to reductions at various Jewish student society events (and probably also gets him a discount at the canteen)

2. He used to be a chef before he became a reggae star – suggesting that like many Jews, food is a very important aspect of his life.

3. He is not afraid to give biblical tunes a reggae flavour. One of his hits, Get Busy, is attracting attention among Jewish music aficionados who believe that the melody is similar to the traditional Haftorah chant.

4. Another one of his former jobs was in the financial industry. Young Sean was a bank teller.  Like all Hebraic people, a good understanding of finances comes in handy – no doubt with his financial background, he’s managing his money well.

5. He is often seen on TV with a head covering.

6. He was born in the Jamaican capital, Kingston – which of course shares its name with one of the larger Jewish communities of South London.

Related links:

Sean Paul official site