Friday, May 5, 2017

A Rabbi in Mexico

Mexico, which is celebrating Cinco de Mayo today, does not have a particularly long Jewish history due to the presence of the Inquisition, and its lingering influence. Today’s Mexican Jews are, in great part, the families of European Jews who arrived during or after World War II.  Among those Jews who made Mexico their home was Rabbi Moshe (Moises) Kaiman, who arrived in the northern city of Monterrey in 1944 and served that community for 68 years.

Born in Szczuczyn, Poland in 1913, Rabbi Kaiman was ordained when he was 18. In 1941, he was lucky to be offered a position in Cuba and thus escape from Europe. His parents, siblings and the family of his wife all perished at Auschwitz.

Serving Monterrey’s Jewish community meant far more than just leading a synagogue. Rabbi Kaiman was also a shochet (kosher butcher), a mohel (performs brit mila/circumcision), a teacher and did everything else that was necessary. Additionally, he represented the Jews among the larger community, and Rabbi Kaiman was well-accepted among his clerical colleagues. He was even invited to a reception for the Pope.

In addition to his clerical duties, Rabbi Kaiman was also the author of six books, as well as a local newspaper column and, toward the end of his life, wrote articles that ran in New York’s Algemeiner newspaper.

Rabbi Moshe Kaiman passed away on September 22, 2012.

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