Florida official has bar mitzvah in Israel

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera had a bar mitzvah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, after recently identifying publicly as Jewish.

Lopez-Cantera, 42, was in Israel in April with the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association and told the Florida Sun-Sentinel that the bar mitzvah “definitely wasn’t planned” and that the opportunity “presented itself” for him to participate in the Jewish rite of adulthood.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera

He did not read from the Torah but did get called up for an aliyah and recited the proper blessing, under the stewardship of a Chabad rabbi. He called it “a moving experience.”

Lopez-Cantera’s wife, Renee, and mother are Jewish, and his father is Catholic.

He is a candidate for the U.S. Senate this fall.

Cantera’s religious affiliation has been ambiguous over the years, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

In his official state House biography in 2010, Lopez-Cantera listed himself as Catholic and in a clerk’s manual in 2012, he is listed with no religious affiliation.

But at a recent event with state Gov. Rick Scott for a ceremonial signing of a bill to create a Holocaust memorial in the state capital, Lopez-Cantera told reporters that he is Jewish.

And at another ceremonial signing of a bill earlier this month that prevents the state of Florida from doing business with companies that boycott Israel he said: “My father came from Cuba but he married a nice Jewish girl in Miami, and I followed suit and married a nice Jewish girl in Miami as well … We keep a Jewish household and are raising our daughters Jewish.” — jta