By Jeanette Friedman – Chabad.org
About an hour south of Cancun and an hour north of Tulum, Mexico – smack in the middle of the Riviera Maya – sits the scuba-diving haven of Playa del Carmen. With an infusion of capital and visitors, the once-sleepy fishing village is undergoing a rapid transformation into a tourist’s paradise.
Smack in the middle of such an unlikely hub of religious life sits the new Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center, established just last month by Rabbi Mendel and Chaya Goldberg, a young couple who themselves discovered the Playa in 2008 on a visit to assist Rabbi Mendel and Rochel Druk at the Chabad Center in Cancun.
The Goldbergs were appointed to their position by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, and Mendel Druk, director of Chabad-Lubavitch activities in the Riviera Maya and Mexican Carribean. Druk visited Playa weekly for three years, and more recently, the community felt the need to have a permanent rabbi.
From their new home, the Goldbergs will run prayer services and holiday programs, Torah classes and elaborate meals.