I’ve been wanting to showcase the history of the Jewish people in Mexico and am so pleased to officially launch this new Morenita Tour. Here are some details:
Your guide is none other than Monica Unikel-Fasja, the director of the first synagogue in Mexico. She is the granddaughter of Polish-Jewish immigrants, and for more than 24 years, has dedicated herself to trace the legacy of Jewish migration in the early 20th century in the streets of the downtown of our Mexican capital.
Her experience led her to participate in the restoration of the Justo Sierra Synagogue, a space that for the last decade has operated as a cultural center. Monica is also the author of the book "Synagogues of Mexico" and producer of the television documentary "The synagogue of Jesus Mary and other stories".
In this guided morning walk, guests encounter the living history of neighborhoods where Armenian, Lebanese, Spaniards and Eastern European Jews cohabited. Monica will take you into what once-were Kosher butcher shops and grocery stores that sold "der alter heim" (household goods), Yiddish bakeries and houses of prayer and study.
In Jesus Maria Street, you’ll visit the old shops where Jewish tailors made socks and underwear. There too are the patios of the "vecindades" (ghettos) where the Jews nurtured their social life and learned Mexican traditions. Monica will explain how during the process of cultural adaptation, polish immigrants replaced their names with Mexican versions - for example Masha became Maria.
The grand finale of the route takes place in the same synagogue our hostess presides over. The enclosure is a faithful copy of a temple in Shavel, Lithuania. Once inside, you’ll see how it is divided into two floors: the upper gallery benches are occupied by women, while the lower ones are assigned to men and children, and in this part there are the sacred scrolls of the Torah.
Behind the bimá, the pulpit from which the prayers are directed, is an arc called "arón hakodesh", which protects the sacred texts under a blue velvet curtain.