From the time he wrote a graduate-level paper on hidden Jews (mostly people in Latin America who had Jewish backgrounds but didn't know it), he has been on a mission to help such people discover their ancestry and decide whether they want to embrace it.
Recently a journalist based in New Mexico did this intriguing piece about the work Jacques is doing through Brit Braja, formed to help with this process of discovery and conversion. (He does this work in addition to being the rabbi of Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City.)
I'm someone who can trace at least part of my family's history back into the 1500s in Sweden and to the early 1800s in Germany.
So it's difficult for me to imagine having lost the thread of one's ancestry, though of course that's also the experience of many African-Americans.
From the work Jacques and I did in Poland to be able to write our book, I'm aware that many people there are just learning now of their own Jewish roots -- lost when their grandparents or others felt forced to convert to Christianity even before the Holocaust. And I know that there is an emerging Jewish community in Poland made up at least in part of people who didn't know they were Jewish.
It's that same road of discovery that Jacques is helping people in Latin America to take. And it must be enormously satisfying work.
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ESCHATOLOGICAL OR JUST SCATOLOGICAL?
Here's a shocker: The turmoil in Egypt and Syria has caused some folks to promote end-times prophecies rooted in the Bible. My word. When has something similar to this ever happened except almost every day. And every prediction has been wrong so far. Pay no attention to the date setters.