Venezuelans revive Jewish heart of Aventura

Sky Lake Synagogue
Sky Lake Synagogue

Aventura’s aging Jewish population has been infused with young blood as Venezuelans lead a Latin American exodus to the Miami-Dade suburb.

Talk in Spanish fills the halls of the bustling Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center; at the nearby Sky Lake Synagogue, membership is now 85 percent Latino, with most from Venezuela.

Even the bat mitzvahs, coming-of-age ceremonies for young Jewish girls, are organized like those in Venezuela, the AP reported.

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Like other Venezuelans, some Jews emigrated for political or economic reasons, but many here point to growing hostilites at home from the Chavistas, the followers of the late president Hugo Chávez.

Sky Lake Synagogue was established in the late 1960s by Jews of mostly Eastern European descent. Fifty years later, dwindling numbers nearly forced the synagogue to shutter — until Chávez became president in 1999.

The synagogue now regularly has standing room only during high holiday services and most members are between 35 and 55 years of age, according to the report. [AP]Emily Schmall