Kansas City rabbi grows a congregation of Latin American Jews

Print More
Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn photo courtesy of BritBraja Jewish Outreach.

Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn photo courtesy of BritBraja Jewish Outreach.

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

RIO DE JANEIRO (RNS) Brazilian-born Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn is catering to a growing number of Latinos who are choosing to convert to Judaism as they abandon the region’s dominant Roman Catholicism.

  • Pingback: Kansas City rabbi grows a congregation of Latin American Jews | Do You Really Believe?()

  • Yoine Cohen

    I wonder if this article had been about a clergyman of the Christian faith, that the particular denomination of the faith would have been omitted. Indeed, Catholic to Evangelical Protestantism conversion is a major story in Latin America. It follows, I assume, that a story about converting ‘to’ Christianity, without specifying the denomination would have been considered incomplete and insufficiently shallow.

    Similarly, at a time when mainstream Orthodoxy, including the legally recognized rabbinate in Israel, does not recognize conversions officiated by clergy of the Conservative and Reform denominations, an article ignoring this aspect in the story is a disservice to your readers.

  • Pingback: Kansas City rabbi grows a congregation of Latin American Jews | Columbia Faith & Values()

  • Pingback: Midweek Missouri Faith Fix: Student leadership, nuns in winter, prayers for life, and more | Columbia Faith & Values()

  • Larry

    Not at all.

    Its just assuming things which are a given for the subject. Anything involving interfaith conversion to Judaism means such conversions are not recognized by the Orthodox sects as a matter of course.

    Since these are people with Sephardic Jewish ancestry, there is even a question whether the typical sect labels apply in this situation here.

  • Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg

    Such conversions constitute a disservice to the local Latin American communities. The people seeking to convert to Judaism should go to their local rabbis and not long-distance rabbis who fly in and out and then leave these ostensibly converts to Judaism to manage on their own in their new faith. And if the case should be that the local rabbis don’t want to accept these prospective converts, they must have their reasons. It is the pinnacle of huzpah of a rabbi to fly in for a few days to a community and, through what he is doing, saying that he knows better than the local rabbis and communities. How would rabbi Kuquierkorn feel if a rabbi from Brazil were to land for a few days in Kansas City and preside over the conversion of one of his congregants without making him aware of what he is about to do?
    This is written by a rabbi who was born and served as a rabbi in Latin America.

  • I am sorry Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg feels this way and I wish him well. It is my mission in life to train, teach, and be a spiritual adviser to people in Latin America who have not found others to help them in their quest to join the Jewish community.

  • Eduardo Cabrera

    I´m not agree with Isidoro, many people search help from the jewish comunity and rabies in their location, but in many cases the answer is negative, for this reason is necesary people like the rabbi Cukierkorn, for the , for the other hand, in kansas are not necesary rabbies from oyher places, because in Kansas all the rebbies makes convertion, not like in Latin America, where the many jewish people have a ethnocentric, racist and xenophobic behavior.

  • Albert Alves

    Who is to say who is a Jew? What right does anybody have to decide who belongs to the Jewish people? I know many Jews that have no interest in the Jewish religion, Israel or the Jewish people. There are millions of people world wide that comes from families that had their Jewish ancestors forced to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish and the Portuguese inquisition. And some people have the gull to say that these people, because of some near-sighted Rabbis in Latin America wouldn’t help these people come back to Jewish people, that Rabbi Cukierkorn have no right to convert them? I would understand Jews criticizing the Rabbi if the Rabbi was some kind of messianic christian converting gulible Jews to the Christian religion. As a Jew by choice myself I feel very lucky that I live in the USA, as the oportunity for conversion into the Jewish faith are easier and more accepted by other Jews than in many other coutries. There was an article not too long ago about Spain recognizing certain names as Jewish and giving them a right to Spanish citizenship. The descendants of the Sephardic community, who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula back in 1492, will now be able to acquire Spanish citizenship automatically, without having to reside in Spain. I don’t give a damn if some people in Israel recognizes me as a Jew or not. Maybe “I” won’t recognize them as Jews either.

  • Julio Poleg

    Rabbi Aizenberg embodies all that is wrong with the Latin American Jewish community. His assertion that” And if the case should be that the local rabbis don’t want to accept these prospective converts, they must have their reasons” obfuscates the elitism and xenophobic attitude he himself represents. It is evident that Rabbi Cukierkorn is helping those who are denied access by the local rabbis.
    Evidently he chooses to ignore the article when he says that “long-distance rabbis who fly in and out and then leave these ostensibly converts to Judaism to manage on their own in their new faith”. the article clearly shows how rabbi Cukierkorn is using modern technology to create something new and positive rather than the same old thing that rabbi Aizenberg so well represents

  • I see that this obvious attack on Rabbi Cukierkorn’s work by rabbi Aizenberg lacks the respect that he claims. I am sure that if rabbi Aizenberg made 100 conversions in Kansas, rabbi Cukierkorn would be delighted to welcome them into his synagogue. I ask myself until when people ( mainly the leaders of the Jewish people – Organizations presidents and rabbis) will continue to try to live an appearance of holiness instead of really doing what the Eternal tells us to do in the Torah: “You shalt not oppress a stranger: for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing that you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Ex 23:9)
    Rabbis like Aizenberg should repent and turn in truth to God.
    Rabbi Cukierkorn realizes a very nice job, he really cares about his students, teaches them to live an ethical and moral life guided by Social Justice. If rabbis like Aizenberg , instead of worrying about criticizing rabbi Cukierkorn’s work, helped those who wish to join the Jewish people, then Rabbi Cukierkorn would not have to leave his own congregation in Kansas to help the many that seek him when they find no other open door.

  • Yoine Cohen

    “What right…” ? Have you heard of the 1st amendment? You’re last line explains it all. That the right should belong only to you. Your exception for Jews for Jesus is revealing, in as much as you think that only your standards are legitimate.

    The issue is not who has the right or who doesn’t, this is a discussion about a ‘news’ article, and if this said article faithfully covered the relevant issues raised. I had no idea if this rabbi has his conversions recognized or not. I simply asked why isn’t it part of the article.

  • Herman Cueva

    Judaism as many human groups are in permanent change; sometime they grow or shrink. The work of Rabbi Cukierkorn and other rabbis that take their professional work seriously have to help the unattended souls that trapped in a non Jew environment try to reach a way to prey and ask for forgiveness of their errors in life accordingly with the soul’s Jewish nature. It’s not a social matter of being born from a Jewish mother, that would be a too simple arrangement for creation to manage the chosen people. It takes courage to help souls to reach a state of conversion in communities where tradition has being misinterpreted and human and social factors make difficult for rabbis to be willing to confront it.
    Our people is under attack right now in Israel and other places by powerful forces more than in any other days of recent times, our strength is not based only in the military, it’s in the permanent help from the Eternal One. The Torah explain very clearly how to treat the newcomers to our house and it’s absurd to remain with our arms crossed as Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg suggest by leaving the matter of conversion in the hands of prejudiced communities. Our communities in Latin America come from immigration by survival and many of them remain afraid of external people which makes them easy target of prejudice. Many souls of the shoa were reborn to live in bodies of non-jewish homes and for some reason that is unexplained in recent times, they have an urgent need for conversion.
    It’s easy to criticize the one who does by the ones that remain static and enclosed in their communities, but reality is dynamic and need Rabbis like Cukierkorn to confront it and deal with it unafraid.

  • Albert Alves

    You don’t make much sense Yoine. What does the first amendment has to do with somebody thinking that they have the right to decide who belongs to the Jewish faith and who’s not welcomed to it? And I find it funny that you think that messianic jews and jews for jesus are part of the Jewish fold. Maybe you should write your own article and tell us if Rabbi Cukierkorn’s conversions are valid or recognized by whoever you think should have the last word.

  • I do not agree at all with your comments. I am myself a student of rabbi Cukierkorn and I do not live in Kansas City, but in Mexico City. As many of rabbi’s Cukierkorn pupils I have always felt directed and guided by him through the web, through telephone, thorugh skype… We take advantage of technology and he has always there whenever we have nedded him. He is not only our spiritual guide, but also our friend and teacher. Torah study has never been such a challenge for a rabbi before, since we latin americans students were not familiar with many aspects of Judaism and rabbi Cukierkorn has been able to teach us and guide us through Torah with a remarkable knowledge and a loving patience. He knows the Latin american culture better than many other rabbis and he has managed to explain Torah on the light of our own cultural background and reality. It is a Mitzva to take Torah wherever it is needed and we need it and long for it and rabbi has brought it to us. I am one of his students, and I am proud of him because he has always been honest about wheter we are ready to convert or not. He has told us about the long and hard way of Torah and he has never converted anyone who is not suitable of ready to be a good Jew. Waiting for your reply, Teresa Padrón

  • Albert Alves

    well said Teresa.

  • Albert Alves

    On the subject of souls of the Shoah victims comming back to this life in homes of non-jews, I read somewhere Herman, that many where so traumatized by it, that they didn’t want nothing to do with Judaism and also that there are not enough Jewish mothers available for all those souls that wanted to come back as Jews. But then, once in this earth they long for something, something is missing in their lives. Rabbi Cukierkorn, G-d bless him, is there to help them.

  • Salvador???

  • Igal Dov

    Clearly Izzie is very jealous of rabbi Cukierkorn’s accomplishments. Why otherwise he would make so many assumptions and even say things that negate the article in order to asset “his supremacy”. As a Rabbi who served in LA he must be well aware of the problem, which he certainly embodies.
    Rather than trying to shoot down someone else’s work, rabbi Aizenberg should try to help create solutions.

  • Pingback: Rabbi Featured as International Rabbinic Leader | Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City()

  • Yoine Cohen

    Everybody should have the right, I assume you are probably referring to ‘legitimacy’ of making such judgments.
    Any properly ordained Rabbi can determine who is and who isn’t to be accepted as a Jew under criteria he or she chooses to apply. I never stated my ‘own’ opinion. So I’m puzzled by your asking me about messianic Jews.

    A fair reporter should report what is relevant to the story. I maintain that if it is a fact that particular Jewish denominations do not recognize each other’s conversions, then it is the journalistic duty of a reporter to at least mention the denomination of the Rabbi. Let each reader make up her/his mind on the validity of the conversions mentioned in the article.

    I never challenged here the validity of these conversions, but the omission within the story identifying the denomination of the Rabbi is my beef. I will ignore your belittling comments.

    BTW, Maimonedes (Hilchos Isurei Biah 13:4,5) clearly states that rabbinical courts, in certain cases, can invalidate conversions. Your claim that nobody has a ‘right’ is not supported in Jewish law or historical tradition. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 85:2) itself cites rabbis who held a certain class of converts as being non valid. So you ‘right’ assertion has no basis. But that is beside the point.

  • MiGoWagga

    WRONG. It is the anti-conversion attitudes of the Orthodox rabbinates in South America that are doing a disservice to Latin American communities. You tell these South Americans to go to local rabbis, but local rabbis refuse to do any conversions. What this means is that the local rabbis and establishments in the Jewish communities there are racists. When local rabbis don’t do their jobs, then someone else is going to step in to fill the void, and Cukierkorn is one of these.

  • The older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll start to
    experience thinning and hair loss. It is important to always make sure that your hair
    is well maintained by ensuring that the hair is kept clean. Because of this, you need to clean your hairs and make them tidy at all the times.

  • An exercise program that suits your body type and requirement will be designed for you.
    Actually, this technique has been utilized for thousands of years so when looking at effectiveness, we
    can’t question them. This can give you a definite goal which can later on help you work hard during exercise sessions and comply to a healthy diet.

  • Eating walnuts regularly can help you fight cravings.
    You cannot rely on the website alone and will need to constantly work on your online marketing to get good website traffic.
    Weight loss alone may be a good option for people with pre-diabetes symptoms,
    as it can sometimes reverse problems and prevent further damage from occurring.
    Finding the Pure Garcinia Cambogia product may not be easy for
    the first time buyers and they need to verify all the websites that are
    dealing with this product. Instead, it aids in converting carbohydrates into glycogen instead
    to supply our body with more energy throughout the day. Relax and
    enjoy yourself leaving the weight management to Garcinia Cambogia.

    It is better to eat little and often: three meals a day and 2 snacks between meals.
    You see, the reason weight loss is such a battle is that your body resists change.
    About the Author: As asap as a great is claimed, I go prior to-arrangement additionally pay completely
    as it on Playstation three at Adventure – Buy garcinia cambogia along with
    he or she chooses it up soon after as they open. You reading
    this article are amongst the first in the world to hear about this weight
    loss green tea.

  • That will be everything else you have zero need to begin doing.
    The elimination of phase 1, the binging phase and the change to a 800
    calorie a day diet are the two most important changes in the New HCG Diet
    for 2012. Seasonings which are permitted on the HCG diet are as follows: salt, white vinegar, mustard powder,
    basil, thyme, pepper, apple cider vinegar, garlic, parsley, marjoram, etc.
    Eat several small meals a day to rev up your metabolism.
    It would be best to reduce your intake of eggs to maybe three in a week.
    can help people to completely rejuvenate their bodies, as
    well as their minds. HCG has been utilised for decades though they had been utilised in injection form
    and much more recently HCG drops for weight
    loss or HCG eating plan drops as many people call them have
    also caught on. I had read his book Pound and Inches back when it was first published.
    A change in your metabolism means you will have a better chance of
    keeping the weight off for a long period of time.
    The HCG diet presents a health danger because it’s
    not safe to maintain a day-to-day intake of 500
    calories long-term.