Converting to Judaism against all odds
In these extremely challenging times for Israel and the Jewish people, seemingly against all odds, Shavei Israel continues to help those who wish to return to Israel and to the Jewish people.
Since the start of the war with Hamas, when around the world people are downplaying their Judaism for their own protection, our conversion programs are continuing to flourish, with people celebrating their conversion to Judaism. Here are some of those special families:
The Junieles Pineda family is from Colombia. The mother, Yaffa, with two daughters, Dina 25 and Chaya 17. They studied for more than a year and always participated in Jewish social and volunteer activities. Yaffa and her daughters were keeping Shabbat, holidays and all the mitzvot (commandments) for more than 20 years! Dina remembers that since she was a child she didn’t go to school during Passover and Sukkot. Today Dina is attending the Machon Ora seminary for Jewish women. Chaya is attending classes to learn Hebrew. It was incredibly special to accompany them in the special moment of their conversion.
The Toledo family, originally from Ecuador, today lives in Beit-El, Israel. Joseph, the father, used to be the leader of the Jewish community in Guayaquil, Ecuador. His wife, Rachel, and his daughters Elina, 18, and Miriam, 7, are already speaking Hebrew. We recently met the adorable newborn Abigail. Very soon all of them will be Israeli citizens!
Alejandro Ariza Marín, who now goes by his Hebrew name, Pinchas, is 41 years old and originally from Cali, Colombia. He is divorced and he has children in Cali. He has now completed his conversion process, but he is hoping his children will be able to follow his footsteps to Israel, as he is missing Shmuel and Batya very much.
Pinchas is that kind, special person who helps everyone he can. Currently he is volunteering at Shavei Israel giving lessons to people in Germany who are unable to find a teacher of Judaism in Spanish, and who also hope to one day to come to Israel and go through the conversion process.
Jaime Guillot, 43, is originally from Medellín, Colombia. Chaim, as is his name in Hebrew, is very enthusiastic, always looking for ways to support others and running after the mitzvot (commandments). We had the honor to be with him while making his dream come true to be Jew in the land of Israel.
The rabbinic judges in the conversion court were deeply moved, saying that seeing people who want to join to the people of Israel in such difficult times is an act of courage and genuine love for Israel. Now, they are part of a larger community and have the opportunity to practice and fulfill their faith and continue to grow in Torah and learn in their Judaism. They are excited about this new stage in their lives and hope to contribute meaningfully to the Jewish community. Additionally, they plan to maintain a close connection to their roots and continue sharing their conversion story to inspire others who may be considering joining the Jewish people.
We wish them a huge mazal tov and the warmest welcome to the Jewish world!