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Felipé Goodan interview, April 1, 2019: transcript






Interviewed by Monserrath Hernández. Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom since 1998, Felipe Goodman is a native of Mexico City. He identifies as a Mexican Jewish American, and shares the complexities of these.

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Goodman, Felipé Interview, 2019 April 1. OH-03693. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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i AN INTERVIEW WITH RABBI FELIPE GOODMAN An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach & Monserrath Hernández Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Elsa Lopez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez, Raul Gonzalez. iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE January 4, 1967 was a rare snowy day in Mexico City; it was the day Felipé Goodman was born to a joyful David and Julia Goodman. Felipé’s father was a child of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants who had settled in Mexico. Julia was a convert to Judaism whose Roman Catholic parents emigrated from Portugal to Mexico. Felipé grew up in the Jewish neighborhood of Polanco. In 1990, he married Elizabeth (Lisa) Rabner, whom he met as a teenager. He is a graduate of Universidad del Nuevo Mundo, Mexico City, and The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. His first congregation was his home base in Mexico City. Then the Las Vegas opportunity presented itself. Since 1998, Rabbi Goodman has been the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Sholom, known as the first synagogue in Las Vegas. v Identity is a complex story for Rabbi Goodman. A gifted storyteller, Rabbi’s story is proud of its unique blend of Jewish, Mexican and Chilango—belonging to Mexico City—and now a naturalized American citizen. He begins his story with a look back at his youth and how he was that uncommon Jewish child attending public school in Mexico City. It is the foundation for the man, rabbi, and father he has become. He distinguishes being a Jewish Mexican to being a Jewish American; mentions where he finds authentic Mexican foods; and details of how Las Vegas has become his family’s home. At the end of this oral history, we have included the video transcript from his personal message to his daughter Daniella when she became a bat mitzvah. He presents her with his grandmother’s Soviet Union passport and the gift of the story behind it. He touches her heart and that of each listener. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Rabbi Felipé Goodman April 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach & Monserrath Hernández Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv When asked about identity, he tells story of being among the few Jewish children who did not attend Jewish Day School while growing up in Mexico City, Mexico; about the unique combination of being Mexican, Jewish, and now American; being Chilango. Recalls other childhood memories of balloons, candies, riding his bike, and Jewish-Mexican food; dating his wife when they were teenagers; going to Catholic events. Tells of Jewish neighborhood of Polanco, became rabbi in his home synagogue; about his grandmother’s house in Roma Condesa neighborhood, Jewish Boy Scouts……………………………………………………..….…..1 – 5 Shares his parents’ backgrounds: father was a proud Mexican of Ashkenzi Jewish parents who emigrated from Soviet Union (Ukraine); his mother converted to Judaism from a very aristocratic Catholic family. Father renounced Soviet citizenship, first in family to attend college. Mother’s family emigrated from Portugal. How his father lost a career opportunity when he would not change his last name; history of the family last name changing from Guttman to Goodman. Talks about family trips to the United States, Houston, New Orleans, and his shock with “ethnic” differences between being Mexican Judaism and American Judaism…………………………6 – 9 Talks about when he decided to move to Las Vegas; raising his three children (Yoshua, Daniela, and Arielle) here and their Jewish identity. Tells about traveling to Ukraine last year with daughter Daniela to his grandparents’ homeland, the sadness of the cemetery. Explains what makes Las Vegas home to him; burying his father in Las Vegas; Cardenas Market for his authentic Mexican foods. Confides that his number one issue is with traffic congestion in larger cities. Talks about his enjoyment of the membership at Temple Beth Sholom; compares to what it might be like is he had stayed in Mexico City…………………………………………………………………..10 – 13 Overview of his connection with local Latinx community; giving invocation at recent Latino Leaders Conference because they honored Gov. Brian Sandoval and how he became a big fan of him. Talks about daughter Daniela’s interest in working with Latino organizations, his son Yoshua’s Hispanic Leadership Scholarship to University of Connecticut and not fitting the stereotype look of a Latino; his personal experiences at Mexican restaurants………………14 – 16 Talks about current border and immigration issues; his reflections on why border should not be closed down; story about his becoming an American citizen; being allowed to speak to the group being sworn in; comparison to Israel and Jewish people……………………………………16 – 18 vii His observations of anti-Semitism today; event at the Mexican American Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C that he attended during 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference, Latinos standing up for Jews humbled him. Anecdote of his daughter and a Muslim friend reconnecting at AIPAC; thoughts about Israel………………………………………………………………………...19 – 21 Remarks about the evolution of kosher, vegetarian, and Mexican food since he arrived in Las Vegas in 1998; Pancho’s Vegan Tacos fills all his criteria for all three. Cardenas Market’s tortillas. Better than Mexico City food selections. Mentions Mexican Consulate, plaque at entrance includes his name. Explains how long Las Vegas has had the consulate, about 16 years; he had to go to California prior to that……………………………………………………………………....22 – 24 In true rabbinical fashion, Rabbi now reverses roles and asks Monserrath (the interviewer) questions and talks about the neighborhood, Iztapalapa, where her own family lived before immigrating to the United States. Story about Mexican karaoke. Poignant video transcription of Rabbi’s family heritage story as told to Daniela at her bat mitzvah, being a citizen of two countries, Mexico and the United States, and now today of Israel…………………………………….25 – 30 Rabbi Goodman with Monserrath Hernández in the Rabbi’s Study at Temple Beth Sholom. viii 1 This is Barbara Tabach. It’s April 1, 2019. We’re sitting in the Rabbi’s Study at Temple Beth Sholom with Rabbi Felipe Goodman and Monserrath Hernandez. Today we’re interviewing the rabbi for the Latinx Voices project. This will be a compliment to a previous interview that he did for the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage project. With that, setting that up, I’m going to let Monse take it from there. Monserrath: Good morning, Rabbi. The first question I want to ask is, how do you identify? That’s such a very good question. You want me to answer in Spanish or in English. Cómo estás? Let’s do it in English and then we can go into Spanish. Let me tell you a little story. When I was growing up in Mexico City and we were on the school bus, there were these kids that always used to tease the Jewish kids. I went to a non-Jewish day school. I was part of the ten percent of Jewish kids in Mexico City who didn’t go to a Jewish day school. They would ask us if we were Jewish or Mexican. We basically said we were Jewish. We never said we were Mexican because there was a clear racial difference between us. None of our parents had trained us to do that or that we had be learning that anywhere. It was just a natural impulse. Then they would go further and say, “So, if there was a war of Mexico against Israel, who would you fight for?” And, oh my God, we could never answer that question. Of course, it’s one of these impossibilities, thank God, but we could never answer that question. For me, questions of identity until today are very, very difficult to answer. I am an American. I am Mexican by birth and I am a Mexican citizen, also. But I’m Jewish. I think that before I see myself as an American or as a Mexican citizen, I see myself as a Jew, which is a very nontraditional answer to this question. But, because I was born in Mexico, I always felt as 2 the other and I always felt I was part of this minority that was, by the way, never mistreated. They never did anything to us but kindness in Mexico. But I always felt very, very different. Here in the States, I still feel the difference, sometimes because I feel that I’m different, sometimes because they remind me. My identity is up in the air. I feel Jewish sometimes. Some days I feel very Mexican; some days I feel very American. I don’t really know. I think that’s the honest answer. In my house we speak Spanish 95 percent of the time. We speak Spanish to our children. We eat Mexican food all the time. Our diet is still a hundred percent Mexican. We go to the Mexican supermarket. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this issue. But that’s how I can explain my identity, which I didn’t really answer anything. Then how do you feel about the term Chilango—being from Mexico City? Look, I grew up being Chilango. I feel comfortable with it. I don’t feel it’s derogatory. I just feel it’s reality. By the way, when you grow up in Mexico City and there’s 25 million people of us, they are all Chilangos. You don’t really think that anything else exists, so it cannot really offend you because I never met people who were not from Mexico City in Mexico altogether in my life. You think that’s the only thing that exists in the entire country, which is a crazy thing, right? Yes. But that’s the way it is. It can’t offend you. That’s awesome. Tell me about your childhood in Mexico City. Any favorite memories? Sure. I had a very, very shielded childhood. I also grew up at a time where Mexico was a beautiful country still, no crime, no violence, no drug traffickers; none of those things. Of course, the usual corruption, the devaluation of the peso, the economic woes and the rollercoaster. But I grew up at a time where I would go to the park and I remember getting balloons from the balloon 3 vendor at the park that would walk with a hundred balloons in his hand and listening to the accordion player at the park and buying all these Mexican candies that I’m sure no American could ever eat in their life, like tamarin with chile and jicamas with chile powder. Chamoy? Chamoy, of course. It all goes back to food. But I also remember being able to walk in Mexico City and ride my bike everywhere I wanted to. I remember the summers—I was not like a summer camp kid—I would just stay at home and I would ride my bicycle with my neighbors all day long. We would go and eat a different food every day, a different torta stand; that kind of stuff. It was really great. What was uniquely Mexican Jewish—I was growing up like a Jewish kid in Mexico City—for example, a lot of food that we ate as Jews was actually Mexicanized. For example, when my grandmother used to make gefilte fish, she would use to make it Veracruz style. She would take a gefilte fish and basically fry it in a tomato sauce with capers, olives, potatoes and chile and tomatoes. It was fantastic. I remember that very, very fondly. I dated my wife since she was sixteen and I was nineteen. I would go to her grandmother’s home every Sunday and she kept a strictly kosher home. We would have mole de olla and quesadillas and everything. It was really integrated through the food in a tremendous way. Something else that I remember, because I didn’t go to a Jewish day school, is growing up with kids that were absolutely a hundred percent Catholic and going to their religious events and being able to understand that Mexico is a hundred percent Catholic country and that as much as I didn’t know much about them, they didn’t know anything about me. I grew up actually explaining who I was at the same time as they were explaining who they were to me and that was pretty amazing and very, very interesting. I must say that growing up in Mexico City never once 4 did I encounter anti-Semitism. I encountered crime. I was mauled with a knife maybe twice and at one point somebody met me with a gun. As I grew up, things started to get more complicated, but that was just part of growing up. You would just run away or figure it out. But it was not about being Jewish. It is about what happens in a large city like Mexico City. Other memories growing up in Mexico City, oh my God, going to the bread shop, a panadería, and getting the sweet bread, pan dulce. Conchas. Conchas. Well, my favorites were the cerejas. That’s my favorite bread. Of course, I shouldn’t eat it because it’s really fattening, but it’s absolutely incredible. I remember, again, riding the subway with my friends, going downtown to El Moro, which they make chocolate the old-fashion way with churros, and it was fantastic. I remember going when I was a little older, like sixteen, seventeen, to Plaza Garibaldi where the mariachis are and having a couple of sixths of tequila, yes, at that age, and listening to the mariachis and having shocks go through us. I don’t know if you know what that is. When you get drunk downtown in Mexico City, they shock you with a shock machine to see how drunk you are. All of that stuff was fantastic, fantastic. Unfortunately, you cannot do that anymore like that because it is a little bit dangerous. One of the reasons why we decided not to stay in Mexico was because I wanted my children to be able to grow and go to the park and ride their bikes, just like I did when I was a little kid. Tell me about Mexico City. What neighborhood did you grow up in? Of course, I grew up in Polanco, which up until today I would say it is the largest Jewish neighborhood in the city. I grew up actually across the street from the hospital where I was born. 5 I was born the fourth of January 1967, when there was a snowstorm in Mexico City, which was actually very interesting. Now, Polanco is a Jewish neighborhood. The congregation where I grew up in Polanco where I became a rabbi is the same congregation in Polanco. I always lived within less than five minutes or ten minutes by car from the place where I went to synagogue and I worshipped and I went to bar mitzvah lessons and all that kind of stuff. Polanco also has a tremendous amount of kosher restaurants. People don’t think about that when they go to Mexico City, but there is really great kosher restaurants. I would say, if I had to count, I would count at least fifteen synagogues in that neighborhood. Mexico is a city of a tremendous amount of synagogues. As Jews move further away to the suburbs of the hills, they start building synagogues wherever they go, so we have a tremendous amount of synagogues in Mexico City for fifty-thousand Jews, which is an incredible thing. Yes. That’s pretty amazing. Now, my grandmother, though, her house was in Roma Condesa, which if you saw the movie Roma that was right there. I remember going to her house. She lived in a very, very beautiful, very large home with the central patio. It was unbelievable. Colonia Condesa was the first neighborhood where the Jews used to live. Actually, as far as the Jews living in Roma and Ashkenazi Jews living in Condesa, it was a very, very interesting thing. Going to visit my grandmother, you would go to the Parque México, which was a couple of blocks away from there, and you went to the Jewish Boy Scouts on a Saturday. It was quite unbelievable, the amount of Jewish activity in that neighborhood. Some of the most prominent synagogues were also there until the Jews started to move. With the latest earthquake, one of those big synagogues, which was in the street of Acapulco number 70, was severely damaged and they 6 closed it down and they turned it into a museum or into an archive center for the Jewish community, which is a very interesting thing. Wow. That’s amazing. Tell me a little bit about your parents. What were they like when you were growing up? My parents? My parents were interesting people – What were they like to me or who were they? What do you want to know? Either way. Whatever you want to tell us. I’ll tell you a story. My father was born into a one hundred percent Ashkenazi Jewish family. My grandparents came from the Ukraine, both of them. My mother converted to Judaism. My mother was born into, I would say, a very aristocratic Catholic family in Mexico City, and so I had a very interesting childhood because of that. But I’ll tell you who my parents were. First of all, my father was tremendously proud of being Mexican. My grandparents, when they came to Mexico, they were both Russians. They had Soviet citizenship. They emigrated from the Soviet Union. My father had to officially renounce his Soviet citizenship when he was eighteen. Like he wouldn’t do that, right? He carried his certificate of Mexican citizenship by birth with him in his wallet because he didn’t look Mexican and people will try to start speaking with him in English and he would get very upset. He would curse at them and tell them, I have…I remember him saying, “I have forty-five more years of being Mexican than you. Don’t talk to me in English.” He was the first person in his family to go to college. He went to the engineering school at Palacio de Maria. He was actually in the same class as Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, who was a presidential candidate, in Mexico City. It was actually a very interesting thing. They knew each 7 other. They knew each other well. My father never liked him because he was a communist just like his father. It was incredible to listen to that. Now, my mother’s family came originally from Portugal. They settled in Guaymas first and they owned a tremendous amount of land in Guaymas. Then my grandmother moved to Mexico City when she married my grandfather. My mother was born and eventually she married my father. My mother actually started working for Red One the cosmetic company, at a very young age. She had to stop working when she married my father and she was just at home all the time, typical Mexican homemaker. She was always there, always helping with my homework, always taking care of whatever happened at school. My father also retired at a very early age and it’s a very interesting story. My father, like I said, was a civil engineer and he actually got a scholarship to go and study in France, in Montpellier when he was younger. He decided to come back because he wanted to marry my mother and he missed her very much. Anyway, he came back before he finished in France, but he was still working for the government and they offered him to become the Secretary of Hydraulic Resources in the State of Mexico. But they asked him to change his last name and he refused, and so then he retired. He retired when he was like forty-one years old. He went into private practice and started remodeling homes and other things he did. He remodeled the Israeli Embassy in Mexico City. But he really did not follow the career that he really wanted to follow and it was always something in the back of his mind that they asked him to change his name and he always resented that. Was Goodman from Ukraine? That is another story. No. 8 The name was Goodman. What happened was my grandfather first came to the United States, but he was drafted into the First World War. When he got back to Europe, he said, basically, “I am not going to die here. I am a European American. I am not going to die.” He basically took off the uniform and walked away and he went back to Russia and to Siberia and went to Japan and then through the Pacific went into Mexico, which is very uncommon, and he could never come back to the United States. But his name was changed at Ellis Island, which is interesting. My father spent his life trying to become an American citizen, and he could never do it because my grandfather was MIA. If he was not MIA, then he became a deserter. It was one of those things. That’s one of those stories. That’s why my last name is Goodman. How would you originally have spelled it if they hadn’t changed it at Ellis Island? Probably G-U-T-T-M-A-N. I don’t really know because the first Mexican passport that I have from my grandfather always says Goodman with double O, so we don’t really know. That’s one of the reasons why I cannot go back and look for any records. Also, the first Mexican passport from my grandfather, which I still have, says he was born in Lithuania. We know he was born in Ukraine. They probably changed it so that there was no…They were trying to change a little bit of his bio so that the Americans would not find him. It’s actually one of those things. It’s crazy. How is that for an answer? When you came to the U.S. to study, what was your first impression? How did it compare to the things that you had seen in movies and television? We used to come to the United States every summer for as long as I can remember. Since I was a little kid, I was coming here for the summers. People that I knew, like my parents and my grandparents, were always getting checkups in Houston, so I would go with them. Actually, the first time that I flew in an airplane was to go to Houston because my grandmother was getting a 9 checkup. That’s the first time I remember seeing the United States. I was like six years old or seven years old. We came every summer. We used to drive. We used to drive in my parents’ car, which is a Datsun station wagon, Nissan, no air conditioning, and we would drive like twelve hours to the border with Brownsville and go into Texas and go into the whole valley with McAllen, Harlingen and Brownsville. We loved that. Once we drove to New Orleans. That was the year that Elvis died, the bicentennial year. I will always remember that because we were on the road and I had no idea who Elvis was. Actually, coming to study in the States, my shock was not with American culture. My shock was American Judaism. That was my shock because American Judaism and Latin American Judaism are very different. Both Jewish identities are contingent in tremendously different things. Latin American Jews are very ethnically centered because they look different than the indigenous population in Latin America. American Jews look the same as everybody else. This is a melting pot. Their Jewish identity is a hundred percent based, I would say, in religious observance. It’s not an ethnic thing. Yes, there are people who identify because they eat bagels and lox, but it’s not because they feel ethnically different. It’s like a cultural type of thing when it’s not religious. It’s a very different way of understanding Judaism, which I’m still getting used to up until this day. In Mexico City, for example, you knew when you were young that you would never date a non-Jewish person. It was an unheard of thing. When my father was going to marry my mother, it was like the world was coming down on them because nobody did that. By the time I became around, my generation, really nobody does that because there is a little bit of a racial difference. The only time you get away with it is when there is no racial difference or the last names are not tremendously Mexican or Latin American in any other country. The only country that is different 10 is Argentina; it’s much more like the United States because the population is, by and large, similarly ethnically to the Jews; they’re also European, so that’s what happened. But that’s another answer you were not looking for. That’s really insightful, though, because your family heritage is a lot of immigration and moving around. Yes. How does that impact the raising of your children when you have all of this very complex background and storytelling? It’s interesting. I’ll tell you a story. When I was first going to come to Las Vegas, people were telling me, “You shouldn’t go to Las Vegas. It’s a city that is run by prostitutes and gangs and crime and drugs.” Honestly, I think that moving to Las Vegas was one of the best things that ever happened to me in terms of raising my children. My children—and I say it without hesitation—are a hundred percent more Jewishly identified than if they would have been born in Mexico City and grew up in Mexico City as Jews because their identity as Jews depends on observing, keeping kosher, keeping Shabbat; it’s all about doing Jewish things. It’s not only about, okay, I was born Jewish; I’m different; that’s it. They understand the world in a much better way than I understood the world. It’s interesting. I would like to ask my kids about their identity. I never have done that. Each one of them, the three of them are very, very different. Lisa and I have never tried to influence their own Jewish identity. They are tremendously self-identified as Jews. The three of them thrive as Jews. In Mexico they would have done that too, but in a completely different way that I don’t think in the long term is actually sustainable because in the world in which we live, all ethnically sustained identities eventually are going to go by the wayside. 11 When it comes to telling them my story, my story is no different than any other Jewish story. We have these stories that are crazy from all over the place. Look, last year I took Daniela, my middle daughter, to Ukraine with me and we went to see the place where my grandparents were born. We went to a little town where the only thing left that was Jewish was a cemetery. When you go into that cemetery, you see these very strange gravestones where they look like trees that the trunk is chopped off and then they have—it’s all made in concrete, cement, whatever, but it looks like a chunk of tree with the names in the little square. I asked and it meant that that person’s life was ended shortly; meaning all of these graves, these people were beaten during pogroms, beatings of persecution. The story, again, is very much like every other Jewish story. When it comes down to who we are today and how we tell the story is we are fortunate to live in a world and in a country where we could be who we are without fear. By the way, I really want to make this very, very clear. I never was frightened in Mexico about being Jewish. Mexico is a country that gave me and my family everything I am. I have only good things to say about that experience. Is there more fear today? Right. It’s not about anti-Semitism. It is about common crime. That’s my fear. I was never afraid that something would happen to me because I was Jewish, never. I was afraid that something would happen to me because they’re going to knock me in the street or maybe in the crosshairs of a drug war in the middle of some neighborhood. It’s a whole other thing. You’ve been in Las Vegas for more than twenty years now. What makes Las Vegas home to you? First of all, two of my three kids were born here, so that’s an incredible thing. Ironically, also my father died and is buried in Las Vegas, which is something that nobody ever plans for. Whenever 12 you move to a place, the first question you ask yourself, maybe me, maybe not everybody else, is, could I be buried here? It’s an interesting question. The first years I was like, absolutely not; if I die, may they take me back to Mexico, like México Lindo y Querido; like that song, que digan que estoy dormido y que me entierren, let me be buried in Mexico. Eventually, and we buried my father here, it became clear that this is where I die. I will be okay to die here and be buried here. Las Vegas is my home for many reasons. First of all, I have lived now in Las Vegas almost as long as I lived in Mexico City. I lived in Mexico City twenty-five years. I’ve been here for twenty-one years. The missing years are the seminary in New York City. My memories from Las Vegas are equally as powerful as my memories from Mexico, later in my life. But I know people here that have shown me tremendous kindness. My congregation, by and large, has shown me tremendous kindness and all sorts of things. They’ve been grandparents to my children. They’ve been tremendous friends in times of need and wonderful friends in time of joy. I really feel like this is my home. By the way, I could go to Cardenas (market) and just buy everything I want that reminds me of Mexico. When I was in New York, there was just no Mexican food in the supermarkets; it was all Puerto Rican products. Here, I can go and buy tamarind jarritos. Meats? Come on. Even if I felt nostalgic, even if I felt like—I always go back to food for some reason. Why? Because that’s how you were raised, with that food on your palate. I always feel like there are comfort things about Mexico that are here with me; and, therefore, I don’t miss it that much. Of course, I miss part of my family. I miss my wife’s family. But if I left Las Vegas today, I would miss the people that are here, too, and that’s one of the things that has kept me here. I had opportunities to leave and I really never acted upon them because I am very happy and I am very comfortable here. 13 I’ll tell you a secret—and we need to speak about this—to me, the number-one assessment of the quality of life of human beings is traffic. That’s why I didn’t go to New York or to L.A. or to a big city. We chose to come here because of the terms of traffic, believe it or not. When you are born in Mexico City and you spend two hours to go five miles, which is worse than L.A., you understand what it means to be able to live in a city with no traffic. I remember once I was being courted by a congregation from New York City, and my brother says to me, “Are you crazy? Why would you leave? This place is paradise. There is no traffic.” Because there’s no traffic, right? But when you haven’t lived in a city like Mexico City, you don’t understand that comment, but it’s a very powerful thing. That makes it home. I don’t ever want to leave here. It’s so peaceful, also, at night. When I go to New York now for meetings of the Rabbinical Assembly or whatever it is and I sleep in a hotel and I sleep on the twentieth floor, I could still hear the noise. I still wake up in the middle of the night and sometimes I have to wear earplugs. Once you live in Las Vegas and you experience the silence at night, you cannot sleep anywhere else. I’m not joking. All of these little things… But here is the most serious thing. I love that I’ve been able to be a rabbi in a congregation where I have membership including mayors and congress people and senators, and that’s been a tremendous, tremendous journey for me of learning that you don’t need to be in the capital city of the country to understand the fabric of a nation, which was happened in Mexico. In Mexico City, first of all, you could only be a rabbi in Mexico City, Montreal or Guadalajara. To really have a serious career, you have to be in Mexico City. Well, that’s not the case in the United States. 14 It’s home because I can be who I am. I can be propelled to prominence in a way that is equal to a guy that lives in Washington, D.C. or Michigan or New York City, and I love that. I love Las Vegas and that makes it home for me, too. How about the Latinx community of Las Vegas, what’s your connection with that? It’s very interesting. I have a very strong connection, but, at the same time, I don’t have a connection, which, I guess, goes back to the question of my identity. A couple of weeks ago, there was a lunch for Lat