Other articles from this issue | Version in English | Version in French
Jewish-Christian Relations in Costa Rica
The Jewish Community of Costa Rica The Jewish community consists of some 5000 people, most of whom came to Costa Rica between 1920 and 1945. The greater number are Ashkenazim and conservative. The children of these first immigrants are professionals, very involved in the political, economic and cultural life of the country. At the center of the community life are a 50-year old synagogue, an Israeli Center, and several cultural and social organizations. A smaller reform community, consisting mainly of non-Costa Rican Jews, has its own synagogue with worship in English. A very small community of ultra-orthodox Jews is more closely related with the conservative synagogue. Organized relations with Christians are very dependent on the efforts of the current Rabbi.
Jewish-Christian Amity (Amistad Judeo-Cristiana) - 1954-75 The Amistad was founded in 1954 through the efforts of Sr. Yolan, NDS, with the collaboration of the Archbishop of San José, His Excellency Ruben Odio, some Catholic laity and members of the Jewish community. Fr. Benjamin Nunez, Ambassador of Costa Rica to Israel, was very involved with this movement and, along with Sr. Yolan was a recipient of honor from the Jewish community which considered them their brother and sister. Both left their mark on this early stage of Jewish-Christian relations in the country.
The Israel-Costa Rica Cultural Center (Centro Cultural Israel-Costa Rica) - 1980-91 When Amistad Judeo-Cristiana lost its strength, the Centro Cultural Israel-Costa Rica permitted permanent contact with the Jewish community. The Center focused on developing contacts, planning conferences and having celebrations in common. From 1983-1987 a Sister of Sion was president of the Center. In 1991 the Center halted its activities, awaiting indications for new types of interaction.
CERJUC Center for Jewish-Christian Studies and Relations (Centro de Estudios y Relaciones Judeo-Cristianas) - 1989-2000 In 1984 the Archdiocesan Synod delegated to the Sisters of Sion the responsibilities of facilitating dialogue with the Jewish community, making known the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, and working for the elimination of racial and religious prejudice especially through religious education, sermons and catechetical texts. In 1989 the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion began CERJUC whose efforts are primarily directed toward the Christian public. Throughout its ten years it has maintained the conviction that biblical formation is essential for effective Jewish-Christian understanding as well as for intra-Christian relationships. In this formation the Hebrew Scriptures, Biblical history (especially of the intertestamental period) and the post-Biblical history of the Jewish people are considered of primary importance. CERJUC has attempted to duplicate these efforts in various locations throughout the country.