Mexico

Population 104,000,000

Jewish Population 40,000*

Demography

The Mexican Jewish Community of Mexico has a population of 40,000 people with most Jews living in the Mexico City metropolitan area

Other cities with significant Jewish population are:
Guadalajara: 180 families.
Monterrey: 150 families.
Tijuana: 70 families.
Cancun: 70 families.

Some 250 families live scattered all around the country.

The structure of the Community is based on a Communal Identity. Approximately 95% of the families are directly affiliated to a Community or the Jewish Sport Center. Some of the Communities were founded according to the origin of the immigrants, others because of a different Jewish denomination. The Communities are:

Sociedad de Beneficencia "Alianza Monte Sinai": Founded in 1912, it is the oldest official Jewish institution in Mexico. Although it was founded by Jews from different origins (at that time there were around 250 Jews in Mexico), today its membership is composed of Jews and descendents that came from Damascus or Lebanon. It has around 2,300 families. Orthodox.

Consejo Comunitario Ashkenazi: Founded in 1922, by Jews who arrived from Central and Eastern Europe. It has around 2,500 families. Orthodox.

Comunidad Maguen David: Founded in 1937, by Jews who arrived from Aleppo, Syria. It has around 2,800 families. Orthodox.

Comunidad Sefaradi: Founded in 1941, by Jews who arrived from Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans. It has around 1,100 families. Orthodox.

Beth Israel Community Center: Founded in 1957 by English speaking Jews. It has around 230 families. Conservative.

Comunidad Bet El: Founded in 1961 by Jews born in Mexico. It has around 1,100 families. Conservative.

There are no Reform or Reconstructionist Communities or Synagogues in Mexico.

Within all the Communities there are around 30 permanent Synagogues and about 20 additional places of worship during High Holidays.

Each Community provides virtually all the services that their members need from birth until death: religious, educational, social, cultural and welfare. Poor Jewish families are helped in any needs they have: food, health care, medicine, rent, scholarships, etc.

There is a Jewish Sport Center, founded in 1950 that has more than 28,000 members from all the Communities and is the center for sports activities, as well as many social and cultural.

There are 16 Jewish day schools in Mexico, most belonging to one of the Communities. 90% of Jewish children attend Jewish day schools. There are all kind of schools, from very religious, religious, Zionists, to secular. All of them teach Hebrew and English, and three teach Yiddish in addition to Hebrew. There is one school with Montessori system. The Jewish schools are considered among the best in the Country.

They are coordinated by the Vaad Hajinuj, which also supports the Hebraic University, where Jewish teachers are trained. All the schools provide scholarships for families that cannot afford to pay tuition. About 30% of students currently receive some form of financial aid.

The inter-religious marriage rate is around 6%, with 74% of those converted to Judaism, which brings the rate to around 2%.

Three of the Orthodox Communities (Monte Sinai, Maguen David and Ashkenazi), provide the Hashgajá for kosher food. There are all kind of kosher products in Mexico, some made in Mexico and others imported. Kosher food can be found at kosher stores or at the supermarkets in the Jewish neighborhoods. There are also a number of kosher restaurants.

Besides the services provided by the Communities to their members there are several programs that are handled in an inter-communal basis:

Umbral: provides preventive work against addictions (alcohol, smoking, drugs, etc.) It works very closely with the schools and youth organizations.

Kadima: works with handicapped people and helps them integrate to the general society. They teach the Jewish society how to interact with these persons.

Fundacion Activa: helps people who are unemployed, providing services to help them find a new job. They also provide therapy for those who are depressed, and have a small business center to help people create their own company.

Menorah and "Erej" from Na'amat: These two organizations work to prevent domestic violence, and provide therapy victims and their families.

Eishel: is a retirement home in the city of Cuernavaca, some 70 kilometers from Mexico City, providing everything the elderly need. There is almost one nurse or a social worker per person. They provide kosher food and special diets for each resident. Those who can afford to pay a monthly fee do so, while those who cannot do not have to pay.

Beyajad, Atid and Kol Hanisayon: These three institutions provide activities for the elderly that live in their homes or with their families.

OSE: Provides medical facilities for the needy people in the Jewish Community. It has a clinic with beds for non-surgical cases and post-operation recuperation. It also has a pharmacy that provides medicines at great discounts and provides medical attention for free or very low cost.

There are some institutions, mainly women’s organizations that work to the outside of the Community, through education and training. They give support to hospitals, nurseries, schools and especially in natural disaster situations like flooding and earthquakes. The Women’s Federation coordinates all the women institutions. Among the most important Institutions are The Mexican Council of Jewish Women; The Mexican-Jewish Voluntary Women; Wizo; Na’amat.

Exceptional projects are handled by ORT on education and training on different fields, according to the necessities of the local population. Pro-Vivah, builds houses for extremely indigent people, in association with the local governments. While each house costs around $3,000 (US dollars), the receiving family only pays the equivalent of $700. More than 3000 houses have already been constructed in Veracruz, Guerrero and Hidalgo States.

Israel

The Mexico Jewish community has an excellent relationship with the State of Israel. The Zionist Federation coordinates works with other Zionist Institutions like Keren Hayesod, including it’s Women’s Division; Keren Kayemeth Leisrael; Vaad Leman Hajayal; the Mexican-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Associations of Friends of Universities and Hospitals of Israel and the Mexican-Israeli Cultural Institute.

The most important part of the structure are the youth movements: Zionists Tnuot; Communities’ Youth Groups and the University Jewish Students Federation.

The Jewish Community is very active in many programs with the government at all levels. The representative body of all the Communities is the Comite Central de la Comunidad Judia de Mexico (Mexican Jewish Central Committee), which is in charge of the relations to the outside of the Community. All the Communities in Mexico and the Jewish Sport Center integrate it.

Comité Central has a program of public relations with political parties, governments, religious, intellectual and academic groups. It has a special body named Tribuna Israelita, which is in charge of relations with mass media and the fight against anti-Semitism. Also as part of the Comite Central there is the Order and Security Committee, which is responsible of Bitajon and the Comisión de Acción Social, which is in charge of helping those members of the Community that are assaulted, kidnapped, threatened, etc.

In the last five years, the Jewish Community of Mexico has become a leader of the Civil Society of Mexico in several fields, including the fight against delinquency, the development of special programs to reduce poverty and to help those with greater needs.

Comité Central has a seat in the following Citizens Councils:

Council for Social Development of Mexico City.
Social Development’s Secretary’s Citizens Council.
Council for Economic Development of Mexico City.
Council for Economic Development of the State of Mexico.
The Central Committee is one of the promoters of the National Crusade Against Delinquency, which eventually turned into the National System on Security and the development of the Federal Preventive Police Department. Today, Central Committee has a seat at the National Council on Public Security and also at Council on Public Security of Mexico City.

During the last Presidential election, the Central Committee had working meetings with all the Candidates, followed by a political meeting with each candidate open to all the members of the Community that wanted to attend and hear from first hand, their political program. The average attendance was of more than 1,000 per event. The Committee also had meetings with each candidate of the five main Political Parties to different positions. In total, the Central Committee had more than 80 meetings this year. After the elections, as contact had already been established with every candidate that won, the Committee started an official relationship between the Jewish Community and the new authorities.

The same was done during the Congress elections of 2003. There is a permanent public relations campaign with members of the Senate and Congress, especially with those who coordinate the different political fractions as well as those who preside the Commissions on different items that are relevant to Israel and the Jewish Community.

The Committee has an excellent relationship with the Foreign Affairs Secretary starting with the Secretary himself as well as the Undersecretaries in charge of the Middle East Region and United Nations Affairs, while also working with medium level officials on a day-to-day basis hasbara, regarding Israel’s points of view. (In Mexico, the Foreign Affairs decisions are taken by the President together with the Foreign Affairs Secretary).

The Jewish Community was invited to participate in the Transition Working Team on Religious Affairs of newly elected President Fox. Three members of the Community participated in that Team. They were also invited to participate in the deliberations of the "National Developing Plan" for the next 6 years, in the areas of Religious Affairs and Social Development.

Among the many activities of Tribuna Israelita, there have been Judaic Programs at some of the most important Universities in Mexico. During two days there are lectures on Judaism, the Holocaust, Israel and the Middle East. The Exhibit "A day in the Warsaw Ghetto" is presented; dialogues with Holocaust Survivors are organized; Israeli dances and Jewish songs are performed and Israeli food is served. Thousands of booklets are elaborated, published and distributed among university students with enough information to counter most of the myths that have been used lately by the Palestinian propaganda The acceptance of these activities has been excellent and they are organized by the Jewish Students at the Universities with the assistance of Tribuna Israelita.

As part of the program to promote the knowledge of the Holocaust, a group of 16 professors of some of the best Universities in Mexico was invited by Tribuna Israelita to travel to Poland and Israel. As a result of this trip, some of the professors promoted the studies of the Holocaust at their Universities, others promoted Judaic Studies, Exhibits on the Holocaust and/or Judaism. A professor, who also works at a TV Station, presented three programs on the Holocaust and Israel. A book with the most important cites related to the Jews, of Pope Paul John II, was published together with Universidad Anahuac, a Catholic University.

During September of 2000, Tribuna Israelita, together with the Mexican Academy of Human Rights and the National Indigenous Council, co-sponsored the NGO’s Regional Forum on Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, as a preparatory meeting for the World Conference Against Racism at Durban. On December of 2000, representatives of Tribuna Israelita attended the NGO’s Forum of the Americas and the Governments Forum of the Americas, as preparatory meetings towards the Durban Conference, and finally on August and September 2001, Tribuna Israelita sent two representatives to the World Conference Against Racism at Durban, South Africa.

At the beginning of this year the Citizens Commission for the Studies Against Discrimination was created and the Jewish Community was invited to be part of it. Four members of our Community participated in different subcomissions. On the 12th of October, the final version of the Law to be presented to the Congress was announced. In Article 4, were the definition of what will be understand as Discrimination in the new law, it reads: "...It will also be understand as a form of Discrimination, Xenophobia and anti-Semitism". The introduction of the term anti-Semitism in the law has been the conclusion of a seven years work, were the Jewish Community has been very active with many groups of the Mexican Society to get their support for this definition.

As a result of the Law, the National Council Against Discrimination was created and Tribuna Israelita now has a seat in its Board.

Jewish Community

Comité Central de la Comunidad Judía de México (CCCJM)
Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico
Cofre de Perote # 115,
Lomas de Chapultepec
 Tel: +(5255)5520-9393
 Fax: +(5255)5540-3050
 e-mail : comitecentral@prodigy.net.mx
website: http://www.tribuna.org.mx

Embassy
Sierra Madre # 215
Lomas, 11000, México, D.F.
Tel. 5255-5201-1500 Fax. 5255-5201-1555

*source The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute http://www.jpppi.org.il

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