GUATEMALA: Our time with the Jewish Communities in Guatemala

One of the most pleasantly surprising parts of our trip to Guatemala was our visit to Adat Israel, a reform synagogue just over ten years old with around six families. To our luck, our visit happened to align with Purim.

Adat Israel proved you don’t need a huge and rich congregation to have a fantastic Purim carnival. I hadn’t seen congregants so wholly committed to purim costumes since elementary school, which I spent at a jewish day school. We met pirates, donkeys, child superheroes and a painted angel of death. The commitment everyone had to their costumes revealed a deeper commitment they had to the congregation and to each other.

They cared deeply for their jewish community and we felt that care through their hospitality and eagerness to meet us. We were presented with a purim play put on by the congregation’s teens and we read the megilah in Spanish, which for us was a unique and perspective-shifting experience.

Adat Israel was so significant for me because one of the things I learned through was BBYO was Jewish globalism. For years I have learned, and taught, that Jews all over the world take care of their own. Wherever you are in the world (including countries that aren’t the US and Israel), if you find a jewish community, they will take you in, make sure you’ve had enough to eat and treat you as one of their own. I never doubted that, but it felt so good to have first hand evidence.

Gabe Melmed


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