SAN JUAN DEL SUR, Nicaragua – It was quite easy to spot the rebbetzin, or the rabbi’s wife, within my first few minutes of a hot February afternoon in the Nicaraguan beach town of San Juan del Sur.
Looking as if she belonged more in Brooklyn, with her modest, long dress and pushing a baby in a carriage, she bought a fruit juice in a definitively New York-accented Spanish, making her stand out even more among the throngs of scantily-clad tourists and surfers.
But I of course knew there are a rabbi and his family in this small town along the Pacific Ocean, and that was one of my reasons for visiting.
Yet here at this tiny outpost of Judaism, a part of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitcher outreach movement, Israelis and other Jews are made to feel welcomed and at home.
That is true even though a huge statue of Jesus Christ towers above the town reminding all that Nicaragua, like other Spanish-speaking countries, is an overwhelmingly Catholic nation.
A food cart just up the street from the Chabad House sports a sign saying “Cristo Vive” further adding to the contrast.