The New York borough of Brooklyn is the most Jewish place on Earth outside of Israel, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park. Yet in the middle of this Jewish universe is a tiny Mexican church called La Iglesia de Dios Israelita—in English, the Israelite Church of God. The church is an offshoot of the Church of God (Seventh Day), which draws much of its doctrine and symbolism from the Old Testament, the central scriptures of Judaism. The church displays Stars of David, members can sing the Israeli national anthem in Spanish and the adults even refer to themselves as “Israelites.” For the children growing up inside this church, who and what defines terms like “Israelite” and “Jew” can be confusing—leading to a slew of questions from these kids about their Jewish neighbors who seem so distant.

Featured image via Debbie Nathan

13 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Israelites

  1. paz a vosotros!! Peace be unto you brethren. I am a member of the Church Of God Seventh Day. basically the main difference is the seven feats, everything else is the same. the COG7 started in Mexico back in 1920 and the IDI started around the 70s when the main church decided that celebrating the feast wasnt a requirement but nonetheless Im happy to chat with you guys, I do visit a IDI in the city where I live and the hermanos are welcoming.

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