The secret Jews of the Southwest

Originally appeared in the JTA by Amy Klein on May 18:

EL PASO, Texas (JTA) – Three strange things happened to Rabbi Stephen Leon the first week he moved here in 1986 to lead Congregation B’nai Zion, the Conservative synagogue in this border city.

“Rabino,” said a Catholic man calling from Jaurez, Mexico, about 30 minutes away. “I need to talk to you.”

Every Friday night from the time he was little, the man’s grandmother took him into a room, lit candles and said some prayers in a private language he didn’t understand. His grandmother had just died, and he asked his mother if she would continue the tradition. She told him to go find a rabbi.

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