Being Jewish in San Miguel de Allende
By Edith Quintana
San Miguel de Allende is a truly international community with residents hailing from over 60 countries. Among those many San Miguel residents are a small but growing Jewish population from Mexico, the United States, Canada, and many other countries. Thanks to the hard work and innovative leadership of a handful of dedicated individuals over the last few years, the Jewish community here is extremely fortunate to have a building to serve as a community center, educational space, social center, and sanctuary for religious services. There is an umbrella organization within which a variety of other organizations function as a cohesive unit.
Jewish Cultural and
Oct 2 through Oct 12
Las Moras 47 at the corner
of Cinco de Mayo
Much like the community of San Miguel at large, the Jewish community here is quite diverse. Although many people may think of Judaism as a single religion, in reality it is both an ethnic identity to most and a series of evolving religious subgroups sharing a common heritage but different orientations toward methods of worship and adherence to traditional practices and rituals. In larger cities the various denominations often form separate congregations. We are rather unique in San Miguel to have a single community dedicated to serving the needs and desires of the entire Jewish community and offering spiritual opportunities that are attractive to members of each of the denominations described below.
• Orthodox Judaism follows traditional teachings practiced over thousands of years, adheres to a set of dietary laws that are referred to as Kosher Laws, and uses ancient prayers, frequently in the Hebrew language.
• Reform Judaism is the first major modernization of the religion, uses less Hebrew in worship, and is less rigid about adherence to the dietary laws and other traditional practices. It began in late 19th century Germany and developed there and in the United States into the 20th century. Reform Judaism has a strong focus on the moral and ethical meaning of the traditional Hebrew texts.
• Conservative Judaism began shortly thereafter as a response to a perceived “over liberalization” of the Reform Movement and as an effort to conserve “traditional” methods of Jewish worship but in a somewhat more modernized manner.
During the last 50 years two additional denominations of Judaism have evolved, further modernizing the ways in which the lessons of Torah, the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, are interpreted and taught as well as changing methods of worship and use of Hebrew language. They are known as Reconstructionist Judaism and Jewish Renewal.
The Jewish Cultural and Community Center of San Miguel de Allende, or JC3, has established the goal of being sensitive to and inclusive of all of the above denominations of Judaism. During the celebration of the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year from October 2 through October 12, Conservative and Reform religious services will be offered in an effort to address the challenge of serving all of the members of our very diverse community. Services will begin with a Reform Service on Sunday evening, October 2, at the Jewish Cultural and Community Center, Las Moras 47 at the corner of Cinco de Mayo. Further information is available at shalomsanmiguel.org, and nonmembers are welcome to attend.