Mexican Jewish history


Yes, there are Jews in Mexico. Supposedly, the first arrived among the Spanish conquerors, men who sailed with Cortés to escape the Inquisition. Today, in Mexico City there are fewer than forty thousand, which makes them a tiny minority in a city of twenty million people (ninety percent of whom declare themselves Catholic).

They are often the object of fascination of Catholic Mexicans. They arrived in greatest numbers in the first decades of the 20th century, principally immigrants from Central Europe, Lebanon, Greece and Syria. They tended to show up penniless, and began selling things on the streets of the centro histórico, soon graduating to shopkeepers and small-business proprietors. Today, most are professionals.

For over a dozen years, Monica Unikel-Fasja (pictured above) has given guided tours of the Jewish history of the centro. She points out, enters, and tells the stories of the buildings that housed the synagogues, jewelry, clothing and textile stores, community centers and gymnasiums of Mexico's early 20th-century Jewish communities.

You can find out more about Monica's tours by visiting her website ( or by emailing her directly at