Lucy Valderrama’s story
When I was 10 years old, I remember Father taking me to a church meeting. A Mr. Villa Nueva was there. He was someone who always sought out the truth but never felt satisfied. We were always Sabbath observers. At that time, we also began to observe all the holidays. Slowly, bit by bit we learned. Each evening at 8 o’clock, we had to attend a class in Shulhan Aruch (Halachah). Father had a strong character and demanded obedience. One day he got hold of a book, Hebrew Without a Teacher, and began to teach us Hebrew at home using a blackboard and chalk. We always fell asleep and Father would send us outside to wash our faces and continue learning.
About seven of our brothers made Aliya to Israel in 1991. They sent us a [Shabbat] hot plate, Pentateuch, shofar, mezuzot, talit, tzitzit¸ etc. Father always worked hard but every evening, no matter what his condition, he taught. The same thing when he got up early, at six in the morning, to learn and pray. We had to know the Shema [prayer] in Spanish. Each one of us had a small pitcher near his bed. Father would check each night to see that we had not forgotten to leave some water next to the bed. Our parents came on Aliya in 1993 and live in Alon Moreh. Gershon, Miriam and Gajuria are married and live in Bet El.
Of course, Father and Mr. Villa Nueva abandoned the church and established the community in about 1975. In fact, we grew up as Jews in everything. The house had a strictness regarding anything involving keeping the commandments. We almost don’t know any other way of life.