Simply unbelievable! Will miracles never cease? And particularly one on Chanukah?
This miracle happened in one of my most favorite cities in the world… Mexico City. Its total greater population is 21.3 million people making it one of the largest cities in the world and certainly the largest Spanish-speaking city. Its estimated population will grow to 22 million inhabitants by the year 2020 due to natural growth. Mexico City will then be the largest city in the world !
Mexico City, capital of the Republic of Mexico, has a Jewish population of 50,000 with 25 synagogues (Sephardic and Ashkenazic, mostly Orthodox), 14 Jewish day schools which are attended by 95% of the city’s Jewish children, Jewish newspapers (in Yiddish and in Spanish) and several Zionist clubs and organizations.
Over many years I have visited Mexico 13 times, arriving in Mexico City and from there to cities across the country. Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, lush with greenery and blossoms everywhere. Virtually a tropical paradise.
My son was graduated from a Mexican medical school as physician-surgeon thirty-one years ago and I often made the trip to visit him. I would invite him up to Mexico City from Tampico to eat in the kosher restaurants in the Polanco district and introduced him to rabbis in the synagogues of the city who graciously made arrangements for him during major Jewish holidays.
On his summer vacations we would travel together to the paradise cities in Mexico, particularly to Acapulco, Cancun and Puerta Vallarta. He took advantage of the sporting life in those resort cities, parachute-sailing, water-rafting and things which were too dangerous for my timid tastes.
In my 13 visits I had only one very bad experience. While walking through Alameda Park, the central park in Mexico City in one evening, I was attacked by a tall Mexican man with a knife who demanded my money, the gold chains around my neck, and a gold ring which my mother-in-law had given me as a gift in Tel-Aviv.
With his knife he slashed my pockets to be sure that I had no other valuables but the gold ring was a problem. I could not remove it from my finger. He threatened to cut off my finger unless I gave him the ring. Sucking on my finger to wet it and loosen the ring while his knife was on my neck, the ring slid off. But his knife did not. A small cut on my neck caused blood to ooze out. With his booty, he disappeared.
At my hotel, the manager helped to clean and bandage the small wound. When I mentioned that I wanted to report it to the police he calmly said, “Senor, don’t waste your time. This is a very big city. Crimes like this happen every day. The police can do nothing about it unless you give them money. And even then, it may have been a policeman who robbed you. They don’t earn big money so they rob people who look like tourists”.
That was my only bad experience in all the years of my visits to beautiful Mexico.
And now, on the festival of Chanukah, Mexico City has produced a new miracle.
By 55% of the vote, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo was overwhelmingly elected mayor of Mexico City… the first female mayor and the first Jewish mayor in the country’s history.
She grew up in a Jewish home and earned her doctorate in energy engineering and physics.
A Mexican Jew has now made Mexican history. A miracle for Chanukah.
Que viva Mexico!