Ronaldo and Bernadette Lopez, proprietors of a Filipino restaurant in Tel Aviv, will not be celebrating Christmas this year. They converted to Judaism in April after a year-and-a-half of study though, as of May, they still hadn’t told their Filipino friends about their decision.
“I’m keeping it as a secret for us,” said Ronaldo, who has taken the name Aharon. “Until now I am still in the cloud nine. I don’t believe that I passed everything. They will be shocked. They will not believe that I already converted to Judaism.”
There are approximately 25,000 Filipinos working in Israel, but few convert to Judaism. Most come to Israel for a few years to make money in a developed economy, choosing to remain culturally separate from Israelis. The Lopez family, however, sought out connections with Israelis. They have lived in Israel for 15 years and it is the only country their two sons, ages 9 and 13, have ever known. Israelis have always been supportive according to Bernadette, who has adopted the name Shir-El (God’s song).
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