Juan Mejia, the Southwest/Latin America Regional Director for Be'chol Lashon,  who grew up Catholic, converted to Judaism, and became a rabbi, joins Dan and Lex for a conversation about conversion, the growing importance of the internet in contemporary Jewish life, and emergent forms of Judaism arising in Latin America, and what it all might mean for the future of Judaism.
(0:01 - 15:00): Mejia tells the story of his own background,  beginning with his journey into Judaism, and going on to describe the events that led him, once Jewish, to choose to become a rabbi. He emphasizes the important role that the internet played in his own journey and the reasons why and ways in which it is proving even more pivotal for individuals exploring Judaism all around the world today. 
(15:01 - 31:41): Mejia outlines the development of his work over the past decade. At first, he focused on anusim (descendants of Jews who had been forced to convert during the Spanish inquisition).  Eventually, though, he decided to broaden his work to include even those who are not likely to have Jewish ancestry but nonetheless become interested in becoming Jewish. He describes how he connects with these people, including the role that his Spanish-language prayer book has played.  He then discusses barriers in addition to language that his work aims to surmount. Mejia talks, too, about the growth of Jewish communities outside of his own region of focus -- spotlighting the Jews of Uganda as a case study. 
(31:42 - 51:05): Mejia recounts the role that his own past struggles to connect to Judaism plays in informing and motivating his work engaging people dealing with similar challenges today. He warns against the danger of "spiritual colonialism" and argues that we are in the midst of a period of "de-diasporization." In conclusion, he analyzes important realities in today's Jewish world, including the growing importance of non-Jews in Jewish communities, and the strength of Spanish-speaking Jewry within the United States. 
 Mejia introduces some of the debates around conversion to Judaism taking place online. Engage these issues more further through this JTA article.
 Learn more about the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda through this 2016 article, featured in Tablet Magazine.
 Mejia identifies B'nai Jeshurun, a congregation in New York City, as a strong example of a synagogue that is thriving under the leadership of Latin-American Jews. Learn more about B'nai Jeshurun by visiting their website.