Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel “Manny” Viñas (48) is a Sephardic Rabbi of Cuban American Anusim descent. He is the Founder and Director of El Centro de Estudios Judíos Torat Emet, a 501(c)3 religious organization dedicated to the education and return to Judaism of the Anusim of Latin America who are descendants of the Iberian Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity during the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition.
Rabbi Viñas’ work is primarily delivered in Spanish via his YouTube channel called Torá Tropical which has over 850,000 views, weekly live classes delivered to over 150 students in 12 different countries, a Facebook page with over 14,000.
Rabbi Viñas’ Centro de Estudios Judios has created communities for Anusim in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic. He has a synagogue in Miami and is the Rabbi of the Lincoln Park Jewish Center in Yonkers NY and the Chaplain of the City of Yonkers Police Department.
Rabbi Viñas was ordained by Rabbi Aharon Zeigler and Rabbi Chaim Bomzer of Kollel Agudath Achim, Boro Park Brooklyn with Yoreh Yoreh Smicha. He was also ordained by Yeshiva Vekollel Zichron Hizkiyahu Yoel of Brooklyn. He has studied Talmud at the Talmudic University of Florida. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences Magna Cum Laude from Touro College in NYC and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work in NYC. He is also ordained with Kabala in Sofrut from Yeshiva University and Rabbi Shmuel Schneid of Monsey NY.
Rabbi Viñas has become a world renowned expert in issues regarding the Anusim and their return and recognition as Jews within the larger Jewish World. His academic interests have focused primarily on the Jews of this descent that are found throughout Latin America and are clamoring for return. He has long advocated that Judaism was one of the hidden religions of the Americas and has a very strong influence on the cultures of Latin America and its democracy and independence movements.
Rabbi Viñas and other advocates for the Anusim Community promote return ceremonies for Anusim as a halachic framework for full recognition of Jewish ancestry while ensuring a rite of passage of return, reestablishing Jewish life and practice with the individual and family. This means that we do not believe we are converting to Judaism, rather asserting a full return to our Jewish identity that was hidden for too long due to oppression. These rely on a number of Rabbinic responsa that recognize this process as strongly based in halacha. Much of his work of educating the Anusim, has been to provide a Sephardic Jewish identity, weeding out the many confusing messages found on the internet from Hasidic groups and also messianic groups who have targeted this community in their outreach missions.