- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - It took 29 years, but Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera finally had a bar mitzvah.

On a recent trip to Israel with six other Republican lieutenant governors to discuss trade and national security issues, the 42-year-old official was offered a unique opportunity to participate in the Jewish coming of age ceremony usually held for 13-year-olds.

The ceremony was conducted at the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

“When the opportunity presented itself, I had never been bar mitzvahed. I wasn’t going to pass it up,” Lopez-Cantera said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Given the location - at the Western Wall, which is the closest Jews are allowed to get to the Temple Mount - it was very special.”

Lopez-Cantera’s father is Catholic, and his mother is Jewish, as is his wife. He says he doesn’t like to talk about his faith publicly, calling that deeply personal. The Miami Herald first reported about the ceremony.

Lopez-Cantera, who is also running for U.S. Senate, was hesitant to discuss his overdue bar mitzvah, instead trying to steer the interview to topics such as meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visits to the Syrian and West Bank borders and discussions on trade and international security.

“It’s not something I planned on doing,” he said, calling the bar mitzvah a moving experience.

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