Welcome To Hebrew School…In Spanish

Carlos Salas and conservative congregation Beth Shalom of Whittier, California have launched an “unprecedented” membership drive to bring Los Angeles area Latinos of Jewish origin back to their rightful heritage.
“We call them conversos,’ says Salas. “They are people who survived the Spanish Inquisition by converting to Catholicism. To avoid persecution, many of them moved to Mexico. While they practiced Catholicism outwardly, they still lit candles on Friday night and did many of the Jewish rituals.’
Possibly the first Spanish/Hebrew teacher ever in L.A., Salas teaches at a two synagogues in Mexico (one in Baja, one in Tijuana, which he founded and has 72 families.) He says he will have no problema finding Latinos to join Beth Shalom and estimates 3 out of every 10 Latino people have Judaism somewhere in their ancestry.
We’re really excited to see what this fusion of cultures means for modern Judaism; perhaps we will move away from a stereotypical, Eastern European, Askenazic view of ourselves. And there’s something truly hip about a mariachi hora, dontcha think?

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