Last Friday, the middle school invited guest speaker Andy Lulka to the first Windows and Mirrors assembly. This new series of events is meant to be a “window” through which people can view communities and cultures different from theirs, and a “mirror” for people who belong to them.
Lulka, a Jewish woman who was born in Mexico, shared some of her family history with the community, detailing the journey her grandparents and great-grandparents made to Mexico from their respective countries of origin. Her great-grandparents on her mother’s side headed to Mexico after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Because they spoke a hybrid of Hebrew and Spanish, they believed they would have an easier time adjusting to Mexican society. On her father’s side, her grandparents’ family escaped the pogroms in Russia and arrived in Mexico after being turned away by Canada and the United States.
She also discussed the differences between Jewish communities in Mexico and those in North America. “You have a huge Jewish community in the U.S. In Mexico, there’s about 50,000 Jewish people, and that’s in a country of 125 million,” she said. Communities in Mexico, she explained, also are mostly of the orthodox denomination.
Lulka, now residing in Toronto, also talked about some of the differences between Jewish communities in Canada and Mexico. “Canada is a much smaller country in terms of population than Mexico, so we make up a much bigger portion of the population,” she said. “We tend to integrate more into our population whereas in Mexico it’s a very closed community.”
Since Friday evening marked the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Lulka took some time to explain the importance of the holiday and the traditions associated with it, including the activities in the month leading up to the new year, such as the daily sounding of the shofar, fashioned from a ram’s horn, and the Tashlikh, in which a person’s sins are atoned by symbolically casting them into a flowing body of water.