The situation in Nicaragua is difficult and critical; there are riots and general chaos, acts of violence, murders and lynchings in the streets, house and business fires, burglary and looting, graffiti against Jews, as well as lack of gas and fuel. The members of the Nicaragua Jewish community are forced to stay in their homes for many weeks; they do not leave, children do not study.
The community contacted the Kibutz Galuyot Institute eight months ago to to send lessons to the Nicaraguan community so those who are Jewish and those who are interested in pursuing their Jewish heritage could learn more about Judaism. Since that time, the situation in Nicaragua has become dire.
The Kibutz Galuyot Institute is registered in Israel and is active mainly in South America and Africa. Its purpose is to bring Jews to the Land of Israel while studying Torah and Judaism, studying for conversion l’chumrah, if necessary, for descendants of Jews and anusim or those without proper documentation.
Some of the members of the community underwent conversion by Orthodox rabbis who provided them with conversion documents that can be presented. Kulanu, a New York-based nonprofit group that supports communities around the world seeking to learn about Judaism, has facilitated conversions in Nicaragua.
Kibutz Galuyot Institute received an opinion and evaluation from ITIM that most of the documents are in order and that they will be able to obtain a permit for immigration, although it is necessary to clarify with the Ministry of the Interior for approval and final permit.
Since 2011, the community has been studying the topics required for conversion by Rabbi Mark Kunis, who was ordained at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and works at the Shaarei Shamayim synagogue in Atlanta, Rabbi Marc Phillips of the United States, and Rabbi Andy Eichenholz of Israel. The community built a mikveh and a synagogue where they conduct religious activities. The Sephardic community is led by Moshe Cohen Henriquez; the Ashkenazi community is led by Kurt Preiss. The Sephardic community has close ties and membership with the Ovadia Alliance organization, which is in contact with many Spanish communities and acts as a beit din.
Several members of the community contacted aliyah organizations for details but were not answered. The Chabad House is located 200 kilometers from the city of Managua, but the representative has already left the country. The rabbi even sent a Facebook message before his departure about the difficult situation and the intention to leave Nicaragua due to the riots and the coup d’état.
The community wants to leave Managua via plane (because of the riots almost all the roads are blocked) to Costa Rica or Israel. Most or all of the converts in the community are the offspring of Jewish Marranos with their Jewish roots that can be traced. The estimated cost of flying to Costa Rica is $300–500 per person, where they can be accommodated and live until they can move to Israel. It is estimated that each Jewish member will need $2,000 for the flights, travel documentation, visas, rent, and relocation.
Kibutz Galuyot Institute has documents for 76 people from the community who wish to make aliyah to Israel as soon as possible, and can transfer these documents to the person who will guide the transfer of information.
The members fear that a two-week stay will endanger their lives in light of the fact that there is curfew and there is shooting in the streets and houses. The situation is critical in Nicaragua and also presents a facet of antisemitism and incitement against the Jews. This situation calls for urgency and quick reference to the issue so that we do not reach a state of, heaven forbid, loss of life.
To learn more and donate, visit KibutzGaluyot.org.