Mexican 'City of Torah' to Be Latin America's First Orthodox Jewish Village

The affordable housing compound will feature a yeshiva, synagogues and schools for both its Ashkenazi and Sephardi populations, a kosher supermarket and a gym complex with a pool, spa and sport venue

JTA
JTA
JTA
JTA

The foundation stone has been laid for a “City of Torah” in Mexico, the first village in Latin America to be comprised almost exclusively of Haredi Orthodox Jews.

The village, under construction near Ixtapan de la Sal, a small town about 75 miles southwest of Mexico City, will begin with 40 houses and hopes to attract 120 families by 2024, its developers said at a ceremony last week marking the project launch.

It will span about a square mile at first and feature a yeshiva; synagogues and schools for both its Ashkenazi and Sephardic populations; a kosher supermarket; and a gym complex with a pool, spa and sport venue. The funding is primarily from a businessman, Abraham Mizrahi, who is not Haredi Orthodox. Mexican Rabbi Yosef Tawil was appointed chief of the town’s rabbinical council.

The project’s lead developer Moises Shemaria, who also is not Haredi, mentioned the town of Lakewood, New Jersey – a municipality with a high proportion of ultra-Orthodox Jews – in his speech at the groundbreaking event.

“We are open to receive Haredim from Mexico and Latin America,” he said. “Our brothers from Argentina, Venezuela, Panama, Chile and others deserve to live in a first-class place with Torah. They can’t buy a $1 million apartment in Lakewood. They will be welcomed here with nice houses from $120,000.”

But the town may bear more similarities to the village of Palm Tree – formerly called Kiryas Joel – in New York State, an enclave mostly made up of 20,000 Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jews that seceded from a larger town in 2017.

Shemaria referred several times in his speech to the regional scope of the project, saying the first 40 houses have been sold to buyers from Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela. He added that house prices will range from $120,000 to $218,000.

Mexico is home to approximately 40,000 Jews, according to Hebrew University demographer Sergio DellaPergola. He estimates that Latin America as a whole has a Jewish population of 379,200 to 707,000: The lower number is its “core” Jewish population, those who strongly identify as Jewish, and the higher figure counts those with enough Jewish ancestry to have the option of applying for Israeli citizenship.

Centrifuges and Delta Blues: LISTEN to Zvi Bar'el and Amos Harel

In Argentina, the country with the largest Jewish population in the region, a project similar to Ciudad de la Tora had been planned but was never carried out.

“Some people want to build a place for Orthodox Jews also here in Argentina, but no one started the project,” said Rabbi Eliahu Hamra, secretary general of BUR, the Orthodox bloc that ruled the country’s AMIA Jewish group.

“For sure there will be students from Argentina interested in going there, to study in the Mexican City of Torah.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Election ad featuring Yair Lapid in Rahat, the largest Arab city in Israel's Negev region.

This Bedouin City Could Decide Who Is Israel's Next Prime Minister

Dr. Claris Harbon in the neighborhood where she grew up in Ashdod.

A Women's Rights Lawyer Felt She Didn't Belong in Israel. So She Moved to Morocco

Mohammed 'Moha' Alshawamreh.

'It Was Real Shock to Move From a Little Muslim Village, to a Big Open World'

From the cover of 'Shmutz.'

'There Are Similarities Between the Hasidic Community and Pornography’

A scene from Netflix's "RRR."

‘RRR’: If Cocaine Were a Movie, It Would Look Like This

Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid's Journey: From Late-night Host to Israel's Prime Minister