Taking a Cue from Costa Rica

I just returned from Costa Rica, an exciting country, known especially for its monkeys. Of course, it is also known for its coffee, pineapple, beaches, rain forests, and zip line adventure parks, among other things. Perhaps it is my sensitivity to the notion of “welcoming,” but no one mentioned that particular aspect of the country and its inhabitants before we prepared for our trip. Yet the “ministry of welcoming” as it is sometimes called in other contexts was apparent everywhere we went. Perhaps it is because a country of 4.5 million citizens understands that it is dependent on a tourist trade that welcomes 6 million people each year.

So I thought to myself, why doesn’t the organized American Jewish community of 2 million understand its dependency (perhaps its future) on the 4 million American Jews (and the many more people who are not Jewish but who live in Jewish households) who are not part of the organized Jewish community? Perhaps if we could extend the Costa Rican culture of welcoming into the culture of the American Jewish community, we might extend our “tourist trade,” as well. The difference, however, is that we must not just welcome people to visit, but to stay.


  1. I’m from Costa Rica, my husband is Jewish and we are raising our children Jewish. In Costa Rica we are taught at schools since very early age how important is the Tourism for all us, the benefits of being welcoming without forgetting about our culture.
    And sometimes this “tourists” decide to come back to stay and make of Costa Rica their home and we also love it!. Glad that you enjoyed your trip!

    Comment by S. Schapiro — May 8, 2013 @ 9:59 am

  2. Are you comparing non-Jews who marry Jews to ‘tourists’ (and most tourists do leave the places they visit)?

    Comment by Dave Boxthorn — May 8, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  3. I am not comparing Jews to tourists. Nor am I comparing those from other backgrounds to tourists. I am simply making a point using an analogy. No analogy is perfect. However, there is much for the Jewish community to learn the way others treat “strangers” in their midst.

    Comment by Rabbi Olitzky — May 8, 2013 @ 11:30 am

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