A profile of a multi-cultural family in a predominantly religious section of Brooklyn, N.Y., featured prominently on the Web site of cable news giant CNN.
Last month’s look at the Nunez Family of Crown Heights – home to a large community of Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidim and the headquarters of their global movement – tackled the issues of ancestral heritage and historic prejudice, and how Latin-American immigrants adopted the Jewish faith of their forebears.
Moshe Nunez was raised in a non-Jewish home in Guadalajara, Mexico, but today keeps Shabbat with his Panama-born wife Chana Leah and their two children. Their menu features elements of Latino culture and cuisine, and while they serve their frequent guests traditional Shabbat dishes, they lean toward their own spiced-up varieties.
The couple believes they are descended from Spanish and later Portuguese Marranos – so-called crypto-Jews who converted for fear of persecution, but retained some elements of Jewish culture. In 1998, while living in Atlanta, Ga., Moshe Nunez began researching his genealogy and both he and his wife began a process of Jewish exploration culminating in their formal conversions in Milan, Italy.
Today, the two perform as musicians, while Moshe also works as a consultant. In addition, he leads weekly Torah classes in offices at the Empire State Building, and teaches weekly Web-based seminars in Spanish and English.
“I believe I have to teach others,” says Nunez. “As part of my rich culture, I am able to use song and life’s lessons to teach Torah in a creative way.”