(JTA) — 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 last week with the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association and told the Florida Sun-Sentinel that the “It definitely wasn’t planned” and that the opportunity “presented itself” for him to participate in the Jewish rite of adulthood.
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 rabbi from the Chabad movement. 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 an event with state Gov. Rick Scott last week 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.”