LOS LUNAS—Andrew Martinez has worked in Valencia County for a decade, and is now operating a facility he hopes will enlighten, educate and unite people.
Martinez was born and raised in Albuquerque, and owns Professional Transmission and Automotive in Los Lunas.
“I always liked Los Lunas, and my grandpa was from Los Lunas. I’m just the generation that made it back,” Martinez said.
A year and a half ago, Martinez had already been in Los Lunas for about 10 years when a building became available, and that’s when he decided to open the learning center.
“It’s a unique thing that has never been done in Valencia County,” Martinez said. “It is called in Hebrew, Beit Avi or The House of My Father in English.”
What sets The House of My Father apart is that it is not a synagogue but rather a learning center for people of all backgrounds and faiths.
“We are staying away from the formalities of synagogue-style worship, and it’s definitely not Christianity because it is based on the fundamental doctrines of Judaism,” Martinez said. “It’s a bridge to unite people, whether they be Jewish, Christian, Muslim or any other faith background to come and learn from a Judaic point of view.”
Martinez said though they don’t teach other points of view, they welcome comments and discussion.
Growing up in the Catholic and Christian faiths, Martinez had many questions he felt weren’t being answered through them.
“I actually enrolled in school and started to investigate the doctrines of Christianity and Judaism,” he said. “I wanted to study it from the inside out.”
Martinez has enrolled in many specialty schools and continues to do so. They’re all online but he has traveled to states such as Washington, Florida, California and New York to test out of those programs.
Martinez has multiple certifications, diplomas and degrees, all curated over the time span of 13 years.
“I am always getting educated, and there are people all the way in Israel backing me. It definitely wasn’t an overnight thing, and I wanted to do multiple schools because I didn’t want to get indoctrinated into only one way of thinking.”
For Martinez, the learning will never stop. He studies everything from biblical text to cultural understanding and geography to help give context to what was written during that time in history.
“I wanted to do something that would actually help people learn what they’re doing instead of just being told to do something. I want to help people understand the ‘why’ questions,” Martinez said.
There are group meetings at 11 a.m. every Saturday, which is followed by a potluck to give attendees a chance to get to know each other. Martinez said the meetings are based on the Torah, otherwise known as the first five books of the Bible, various other parts of the Old Testament and the rabbinic of the New Testament.
“Rabbinic is the deep-seated understanding of what is being taught,” Martinez said. “It’s just a form of investigating what is going on behind scriptural understanding.”
Martinez enjoys meeting in small groups because it allows people to interact more personally with each other and ask questions. He hopes to get to a place where everyone can share their questions and knowledge and give people a chance to learn from one other.
“A regular meeting for us is about 20 people. There are prayers, Jewish music and a lesson on a topic or a portion in the Bible and it will be expounded upon,” Martinez said. “It may lead into more than one teaching, and we will give you multiple views on the spiritual aspect, the physical, financial and cultural aspect.”
Martinez works with other teachers who specialize in health in Judaic mind based on scripture and finances based on Judaic thought.
“We have something that is very unique that not even Albuquerque has,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’ve had great teachers and mentors from all across the country, and something this unique is happening right here in Los Lunas.” .
Martinez has come across many misconceptions in his studies, but the most common one is the fear of something different.
“We encourage people to come learn about it for themselves. We’re not trying to change anyone’s beliefs,” Martinez said.
Many misconceptions rooted in generational misunderstandings can be a hindrance to the people Martinez comes across.
“I understand where they’re coming from because I used to be in that same position and it’s hard to overcome. It’s brave for somebody to be raised in one way and go out there and learn about this for myself, invest in it and figure it out.”
He said many people are only in their faith because of how they were raised but do not have a deep understanding of that faith.
There is no tuition fee for attending weekly meetings, a fact that Martinez prides himself on.
“I have spent about $60,000 on my education over the past 13 years, and what I’m sharing is free gold to help them think in a bigger scope,” Martinez said. “Anywhere that would help a person to grow and better themselves should be looked upon as a great place.”
While there is no tuition, donations are accepted to help pay for renting the building.
“Judaism is a faith, a way of life and it teaches you to be responsible for what you do and asks you to be motivated,” Martinez said. “It’s a totally different mind set than other faith groups out there. It teaches you to be accountable for your actions and responsible for one another. It’s a beautiful sentiment that is taught.”
To get more information, visit the Beit Avi Facebook page.