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Support the Jewish community programs in El Salvador: tinyurl.com/supportelsalvador
Help Beit Shemaya v'Avtalyon obtain Hebrew & Spanish books and Jewish ritual objects: tinyurl.com/Kimberlysfundraisingpage
The inhabitants of several small, very poor communities in south-central El Salvador greatly desire to connect with the international Jewish community, enabling them to deepen their religious knowledge and practice. Many of the approximately 400 community members are descendants of Anousim (Spanish and Portuguese Jews who fled the Inquisition and retained a remnant of their religious customs). The rest are Jews by choice. Since 1989, through use of the Internet, the inhabitants of Armenia, with smaller groups in Nauisalco and the capital San Salvador, have learned Jewish prayers, customs, and practices, becoming Shomer Shabbat (keepers of the Sabbath) and Shomer Mitzvot (observant of Jewish responsibilities), praying three times daily and observing Jewish festivals and holidays.
Kulanu has supported this remarkable community by sending Rabbi Aaron Rehberg, himself a descendant of Anousim, from Israel on several visits to Armenia to establish community programs and support members' Jewish education. Since his trip for Purim 2011, the level of religious education and involvement for both children and adults has significantly increased. (Read his trip reports below.) To date, one of the greatest accomplishments is the weekly Hebrew school for children and daily Beit Midrash (Jewish learning) program for adults; Jewish education and Hebrew literacy has dramatically improved, and the community is eager to learn more. In addition, Rabbi Rehberg has taught them how to make their own Matzah and even slaughter their own kosher chicken. This work is proving fruitful in other ways as well -- Rehberg reported recently, "the budding kosher slaughter business of the two community cantors is beginning to provide a good supply of kosher chicken, and more economic stability for the families of the two shochets (slaughterers). Those teaching the children also receive small sums from the community funds for providing these services. Overall, goals are being met and responsibility being showed in a steady and sustainable fashion."
Needless to say, Kulanu is delighted to see this progress and we are grateful to The Good People Fund and other supporters who helped make these trips possible. In December 2012, Rabbi Rehberg returns to Armenia for the next month-long session of the Beit Midrash immersion program, and to celebrate Hanukah with the community; two other volunteers will be joining him to help lead classes and services. For this trip, Rabbi Rehberg hopes to expand the community library with books in Spanish as well as more texts in Hebrew, and to enrich their Shabbat and holiday observances by helping them obtain Jewish ritual objects. Click here to contribute to these projects in El Salvador today through our Fundraising Page for El Salvador, www.tinyurl.com/supportelsalvador. Thanks so much for your support!
How "All of Us" Can Help
Armenia is about 25 miles from the main airport in El Salvador. The community eagerly welcomes volunteers, especially Spanish speakers, for short periods to teach Hebrew and religion. To apply, first click here to find out more, then follow the application instructions found on this Overseas Volunteer Opportunities page. We look forward to hearing from you!
Contributions to support the Jewish community of El Salvador may be made online through our El Salvador fundraising page, or check out other ways to give at kulanu.org/donate. Kulanu has raised nearly half of the funds needed for the rabbi's Hanukah trip, so any amount you can give will help us reach our goal. Thank you so much.
To find out what books and other Judaica the community is seeking, check out the "Wish List" on Kimberly Dueñas' Personal Fundraising Page (www.tinyurl.com/Kimberlysfundraisingpage) - Kimberly is one of the Kulanu volunteers traveling to Armenia in December. You can also contribute through Kimberly's page to give the community a gift from that list this Hanukah.
Rabbi Rehberg, Kulanu's coordinator for El Salvador, may be reached at www.kulanu.org/contact (choose "Regional Coordinators - El Salvador" in the first field) for all questions regarding the community and its needs.
Thank you for getting involved!
Articles and Links
- The Miracle of Return and Its Widening Circle Kimberly Dueñas (2012)
- El Salvador Purim 2012 Project Progress Report (2012)
- Proposal for Rabbi Aaron Rehberg's Purim visit to El Salvador (2012)
- Growing Jewish Education in Armenia, El Salvador Rabbi Aaron Rehberg (2011)
- A Jew by Choice: From El Salvador to Milan to Jerusalem Meir Yehoshua Torres (2011)
- El Salvador Jewish Community Emerges From Centuries of Isolation and Assimilation Rabbi Aaron Rehberg (2011)