With the holiday season underway, a trip to Tijuana could also mean visiting a synagogue.
The Jews of Tijuana have a fascinating history, which is told in the 2005 documentary called Tijuana Jews. Many Jews from Eastern Europe settled in Tijuana during the 1920s after being denied entry to the U.S. due to quotas.
Today, two synagogues exist in Tijuana that service approximately 2,000 Jews living throughout the 1.6 million metropolis. One is called the Congregacion Hebrea de Baja California and is made up almost entirely of converted Mexican Catholics.
I visited the second synagogue, Centro Social Israelita, whose current membership is about fifty families with many who come to worship from San Diego. Originally from Mexico, they feel more comfortable participating in Shabbat services in Tijuana.
A Chabad community, the grounds not only have a synagogue, but also a school, community room, a kosher kitchen, playground equipment for children, a swimming pool and more. The Rabbi is originally from Argentina and his wife is Italian born. This synagogue has definitely been “discovered”. Jewish Sightseeing and Jewish Journal have two lovely write-ups.
I particularly enjoyed the stained-glass windows inside the sanctuary: