A new emissary to the El Salvador Jewish Community

A new emissary to the El Salvador Jewish Community

Shavei Israel, together with the Beit Midrash Sephardi, have appointed Rabbi Eliyahu Franco as a new emissary to El Salvador, where he has taken up his position to work to strengthen Jewish life in the country.

More than 500 years after their Iberian Jewish ancestors were compelled to convert to Catholicism, Bnei Anousim (whom historians refer to by the derogatory term “Marranos”) in El Salvador will get their own rabbi, who was born and raised in their community, to serve their spiritual and educational needs.

Rabbi Franco, 38, was born in El-Salvador and thanks to Shavei Israel he decided to make Aliyah to Israel in 2018. Franco now lives near Jerusalem and is married with two children. After he obtained a degree in Technical System Engineering and accounting and religious studies in El Salvador, Franco spent five years at the Beit Midrash Sephardi in the Old City of Jerusalem. In addition to being an ordained rabbi Franco is certified to practice as a shochet (kosher slaughterer), a Mashgiach Kashrut, and Mohel.

“We are delighted to be sending Rabbi Eliyahu Franco to reach out to the Bnei Anousim of El Salvador,” said Rabbi Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel. “There are hundreds of Bnei Anousim in El Salvador and thousands in Latin America 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 to the Jewish People. Shavei Israel will continue to intensify its efforts to assist the Bnei Anousim wherever they may be.

“I’m very excited to start my new role as Shavei Israel’s emissary to the El Salvador Jewish community,” said Rabbi Franco. “This is a great honor for me to return to this beautiful Jewish community in the country where I spent my childhood, to help those who seek a deeper connection with Judaism.”

As Shavei Israel’s emissary El-Salvador, Rabbi Franco will teach Torah, Jewish culture and Jewish tradition to Bnei Anousim, conducting a wide range of social and educational activities in the process. He will also arrange community events and prayers for Shabbat and holidays, give lectures on Jewish law, teach young and old how to properly read from the Torah and conduct prayers, and in the near future Rabbi Franco will attend to the Jewish communities in Guatemala Shaar Hashamaim and Derech HaChaim in Honduras as well.


About the Jews of El Salvador:

Jews have maintained a presence in El Salvador since the early 19th century, when Jewish immigrants, mainly Sephardim, began to settle there from around Latin America, Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia. A small wave of Ashkenazi Jews arrived in the middle of the 20th century as they fled Europe in the wake of Hitler’s rise to power. But many secret Jews also came to El Salvador a few centuries ago, when they escaped Spain. These crypto-Jews were forced to continue practicing Judaism in secret when the long arm of the Inquisition spread to central and South America.