Palm Beach congregations take Mission of Gratitude to Guatemala

Palm Beach synagogues plan trip to Guatemala

President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala addresses the Palm Beach “Mission of Gratitude” participants. (COURTESY)

Two Palm Beach congregations joined together to extend their gratitude to the president of Guatemala for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by visiting Guatemala recently.

Led by Rabbi Leonid Feldman of Temple Beth El of West Palm Beach, a Conservative congregation, and Rabbi Moshe Scheiner of Palm Beach Synagogue, an Orthodox congregation, 35 participants attended the “Mission of Gratitude” to Guatemala.

President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala vowed to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Dec. 25, 2017, in becoming the second national leader to make this move, following the announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Dec. 6.

“We are grateful and we want to support the President of Guatemala,” said Feldman.

“He (Morales) is under a lot of pressure because the Arab nations are threatening to boycott Guatemala’s biggest export, cardamom. There is a history of Guatemala being very supportive of the State of Israel going back to 1947. We don’t forget those who are kind to us.”

Morales hosted a dinner at the National Palace in Guatemala to address the Palm Beach County “Mission of Gratitude” group as well as a broader delegation of 90 Christian and Jewish leaders.

“Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was the right thing to do,” said Morales at the dinner.

Along with the dinner at the National Palace, another highlight of the “Mission of Gratitude” had participants showing solidarity with Israel at a “Unity for Israel” rally that was attended by 2.000 Evangelical Christians in support of Israel.

Other highlights of the “Mission of Gratitude” were meetings with Sandra Jovel, foreign affairs minister of Guatemala, Luis Arraega, U.S. ambassador to Guatemala and Mattanya Cohen, Israel’s ambassador to Guatemala.

High profile Christian leaders who participated in the “Mission of Gratitude” included former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Rev. Mario Bramnick, president of the Latino Coalition for Israel and senior pastor of New Wine Ministries Church in Cooper City.

“The mission was very significant. Our presence there sanctioned the president’s (Morales) decision,” said Ilan Kottler, president of Temple Beth El.

“This was a united front, Jews and Christians together. I told President Morales that Jewish people remember those who are good to us and history will prove him right,” said Feldman.

“Gratitude is the fundamental principle of Judaism. We went to express our gratitude, but we returned having received much more than we gave in terms of the friendship and fellowship from Jews and Christians alike, ” said Scheiner.

To learn more about Palm Beach Synagogue, 120 N. County Road in Palm Beach, call 561-838-9002 or go to

To learn more about Temple Beth El, 2815 N. Flagler Dr. in West Palm Beach, call 561-833-0339 or go to

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