Central America’s Bnei Anousim Get First Rabbi in 500 Years

August 17, 2018

2 min read

Rabbi Elisha Salas is Shavei Israel’s new emissary to the crypto-Jews of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala

The Bnei Anousim – descendants of Spanish Jews forced to convert to Catholicism more than 500 years ago – who live in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala will get a full-time rabbi to serve their spiritual and educational needs. The appointment was made possible due to the efforts of the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization.

Rabbi Elisha Salas, 61, who served as Shavei Israel’s emissary to Portugal for the past eight years, will shortly take up his new post as the organization’s envoy to Central America. Rabbi Salas will be based in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, where Shavei Israel has been working for many years. The city is home to a thriving community of approximately 300 Bnei Anousim – all of whom practice Orthodox Judaism – and will also work with crypto-Jews in neighboring Guatemala and Honduras.

“We are delighted to be sending Rabbi Elisha Salas to reach out to the Bnei Anousim of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,” said Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel. “There are thousands of Bnei Anousim throughout those countries who are conscious of their historical connection to the Jewish people. We owe it to them and to their ancestors to reach out to them, embrace them and welcome them back home. Shavei Israel will continue to intensify its efforts to assist the Bnei Anousim wherever they may be.”

Salas will guide the communities and teach Torah, Jewish culture and tradition and will conduct a wide range of educational and social activities. He will also organise social events in addition to Sabbath and holiday prayers. Salas will give lectures on Jewish law and will teach both young and old to correctly read from the Torah and conduct prayers.

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