The dedication of the new synagogue in Tegucigalpa on Sunday has special significance for one visitor from New York City.
Michael Jordan, from Riverdale, who was among a few dozen local volunteers who helped repair the old synagogue’s Torah scroll that was damaged in Hurricane Mitch, was in the Honduran capital for a week three years ago for the sefer Torah’s rededication.
And he was there for a month 19 years ago, after his birth.
Jordan was born to a Honduran woman, adopted immediately by Daniel and Karen Jordan of Riverdale, taken back to the Bronx, converted to the Jewish religion, named for Mrs. Jordan’s father, and raised as an Orthodox Jew.
His natural mother was presumably a Catholic, in a predominantly Catholic land, says Mrs. Jordan, who with her husband, adopted another child, a girl from Colombia, three years later.
Michael always knew about his roots in Honduras and "was very curious about his birth country," his mother says.
So he joined Rabbi Emmanuel Vinas’ Torah Team that worked on the nearly destroyed scroll. And he persuaded his mother to accompany him to the rededication ceremony in 2000; Jordan’s father had died in 1999. He prevailed upon his mother, a speech therapist, to go to Honduras again this week, for the opening of the new synagogue.
"I always wanted to go back," says Michael, a recent graduate of the Haller School in New Rochelle. "I wanted to see what my roots were like.
"It was beautiful. I loved it," he says. "I felt at home … to be with Jewish people who look like me." Michael, who describes himself as "very tan," is darker than most Jews he meets here, and sometimes feels conspicuous.
"I am a Honduran," Michael says, "and I’m Modern Orthodox."
In Honduras next week he will take part in the dedication ceremony, say Kaddish for his father, tour the land and visit his girlfriend, a young Honduran Jew he met during his earlier visit there.
His first return to his homeland was a success?
"Yes," he says.