(JTA) – The mayor of Mexico City praised his country’s Sephardi heritage during the opening of the global biennial Erensya summit on Tuesday.
“In Mexico, we have history, we have inheritance, we have language that comes from Sephardi history,” Miguel Angel Mancera told the audience. “We are proud to host this congress here and for the first time held outside Europe. It is an honor.”
Sephardi Jews from more than 20 countries gathered in Mexico for the three-day conference, ending Wednesday, to discuss their culture and tradition and the Jewish presence in Mexico in the past and today, and to exchange relevant experiences from the Sephardi world.
“Mexico receives and supports all the communities in the world,” the mayor added, pointing out that Mexico’s first constitution states that discrimination is prohibited and anti-Semitism is categorized as such. “What moves us must be tolerance. The strength of the communities is in their union,” he said.
The president of the Mexico-Israel Cultural Institute, David Srur, recalled the strong Jewish presence during the period that Mexico was a Spanish colony.
“Memory unites men and women spiritually. We think and fight for understanding and respect. Long live the culture, the science, our roots and the memory, which will lead us to a world full of optimism and union,” Srur said, recalling that Israel’s future prime minister Golda Meir attended the institute’s inauguration in 1947.
Erensya, or heritage in Ladino, is the name of the initiative led by the Madrid-based Sefarad-Israel Center to establish a bridge between Spain and the Sephardic Diaspora. Co-ordinated by the Latin American Sephardic Federation, the summit’s earlier meetings took place in Spain, Turkey and Bulgaria.
“Mexico is a blessed country that has received the Jews since its expulsion in 1492. At the beginning of the twentieth century a new group of Jews was formed in Mexico that formed what today is the Jewish community of Mexico, who have managed to perform successfully and gratefully,” added Alberto Levy, the federation’s vice-president.