Colombia’s Wave of Conversion to Judaism

Colombia’s Jewish community numbers about 4,000, but has recently been expanding thanks to a growing influx of converts, who call themselves emergentes, or emerging Jews. Heide Paster Herf, who has been photographing these newcomers to Judaism in the city of Cali, writes:

Even though none of [the emergentes] was born Jewish, many had been exposed to Judaism as part of their Christian faith, through the life of Jesus, who was Jewish. They came to see Judaism as the one true religion, many told me. My photography project focused on hundreds who have established their own communities of converts apart from the traditional Jewish communities.

There are seven known emerging synagogues in Cali, whereas the traditional Jewish community has only three. It is hard not to notice the emergentes as they embrace the outward signifiers of Orthodoxy. I first happened upon this several years ago when I spotted a taxi driver with a yarmulke and the traditional tallit (prayer shawl) that Orthodox Jews wear.

These new adherents talk of being unsatisfied with their previous faiths. “I wanted to find the truth,” Rivka Espinosa (formerly Loida Espinosa), who converted from evangelical Christianity, told me. “I began to study, more and more, and ask myself deep questions. What was my mission in this world? Why was I here? And what did I need to do?” She said her father was the pastor of an evangelical church where she was a member. He also converted.

The emerging Jews are not associated with any traditional organization in Colombia or in the United States, according to Alfredo Goldschmidt, Colombia’s chief rabbi. But he does counsel and advise them: “The emerging communities consult with me regarding everything,” he told me. “They are a parallel community.”

Some of Herf’s photographs can be found at the link below.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Conversion, Judaism, Latin America


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria