October 21, 2019 — New York
In an historic encounter, American Jewish Committee (AJC) interreligious and Latino staff experts addressed the Alianza Evangélica Latina (AEL, Latin Evangelical Alliance) General Assembly. AJC is the first Jewish organization so honored.
Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, and Dina Siegel Vann, Director of AJC’s Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (BILLA), spoke to the delegates at the sixth AEL Assembly, held in Orlando, Florida, October 16-19.
AEL represents more than 100 million Latino Evangelicals in 22 countries in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. AJC was invited to participate by Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, president of the host organization, NaLEC (National Latino Evangelical Coalition), AEL’s U.S. affiliate.
Previously, in 2015 and 2018, Salguero and Marans co-led Project Interchange (PI)-NALEC co-sponsored educational seminars in Israel for U.S. Latino Evangelical leaders. PI is an AJC institute introducing diverse global thought leaders to Israel.
In his address at the Assembly’s opening service, held at Orlando’s Calvario City Church, a megachurch led by Salguero, Marans said, “At a time of rising racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism, Jews and Latino Evangelicals must be brothers and sisters who will together battle the hate that demonizes both our communities.”
Marans noted the imminent first anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh massacre and called on Latino Evangelicals to join the Jewish community in defeating antisemitism.
Siegel Vann told the delegates, “AJC is ready, willing, and able to work with AEL to advance mutual interests in its 22 countries, in cooperation with the respective local Jewish communities.”
Florida is home to more than 4 million U.S. Latinos, including tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans and other Latin American newcomers who have settled in Orlando and other Central Florida cities over the last few years.
Marans and Siegel Vann invited AEL to join AJC in advancing positive relations for the 22 AEL countries with both the U.S. and Israel.