T O P I C
The history of the Jews of Argentina goes back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition, when Jews fleeing persecution settled in what is now Argentina. Many of the Portuguese traders in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata were Jewish, but an organized Jewish community developed only after Argentina gained independence from Spain in 1810. At that time, Jews from France and other parts of Western Europe began to settle in Argentina.
The current Jewish population is 80% Ashkenazi. Argentina has the largest Jewish population of any country in Latin America. Next Year in Argentina, a 2005 documentary about diaspora Jews, who have either decided to remain in Argentina or move to Israel. Jorge Gurvich and Shlomo Slutzky, Argentine-Israeli filmmakers, travel back to Argentina—exploring questions of identity and the meaning of a homeland as they speak with friends and family who have stayed behind.
Some Spanish conversos, or secret Jews, settled in Argentina during the Spanish colonial period (16th–19th century), assimilating into the general population. After Argentina emancipated from the Spanish Empire, the General Assembly of 1813 officially abolished the Inquisition.
A second wave of Jewish immigration began in the mid-19th century during the Great European immigration wave to Argentina, mostly from Western Europe, especially France.
In 1860, the first Jewish wedding was recorded in Buenos Aires. A minyan was organized for High Holiday services a few years later, leading to the establishment of the Congregación Israelita de la República.
In the late 19th century, immigrants fleeing poverty and pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe settled in Argentina, availing themselves of its open-door immigration policy. These Jews became known as rusos, "Russians".
In 1889, 824 Russian Jews arrived in Argentina on the S.S. Weser and became gauchos (Argentine cowboys). They bought land and established a colony named Moiseville. In dire economic straits, they appealed to the French Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch, who founded the Jewish Colonization Association. In its heyday, the Association owned more than 600,000 hectares of land, populated by over 200,000 Jews. Between 1906 and 1912, some 13,000 Jews immigrated to Argentina every year, mostly from Europe, but also from Morocco and the Ottoman Empire. By 1920, more than 150,000 Jews were living in Argentina.
The number of Jews migrating to Argentina increased in the late 19th century due to the efforts of Baron Maurice de Hirsch. After the death of his son and heir, de Hirsch devoted himself to Jewish philanthropy and alleviating Jewish suffering in Eastern Europe. He came up with a plan to bring Jews to Argentina as autonomous agricultural settlers. This plan meshed with Argentina's campaign to attract immigrants. The 1853 constitution guaranteed religious freedom, and the country had vast, unpopulated land reserves. Under President Domingo F. Sarmiento, a policy of mass immigration was introduced that coincided with the violent pogroms in Russia in 1881. These Jewish agricultural settlements were established in the provinces of Buenos Aires (Colonia Lapin, Rivera), Entre Ríos (Basavilbaso, San Gregorio, Villa Domínguez, Carmel, Ingeniero Sajaroff, Villa Clara, and Villaguay), and Santa Fe (Moisés Ville). In fact, the national census of 1895 indicated that of the 6,085 people who declared to be Jewish, 3,880 (about 64%) lived in Entre Ríos.
The Buenos Aires Jewish community was established in 1862, and held its first traditional Jewish wedding in 1868. The first synagogue was inaugurated in 1875. The Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe who settled in Argentina became known as "rusos" ("Russians") by the local population. Some settled in the major cities, but many acquired land through the Jewish Colonization Association and established small agricultural colonies ("comunas") in the interior of the country, especially in the provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos.
Jews in Argentina came to play an important role in Argentine society, but antisemitism reared its head from time to time. In January 1919 in Buenos Aires, pogroms fomented by the police as a response to a general strike targeted the Jews and destroyed their property. In the strike's aftermath civilian vigilante gangs (the Argentine Patriotic League) went after agitators ("agitadores"), claiming "scores of victims", including "numerous Russian Jews who were falsely accused of masterminding a Communist conspiracy". "In 1939 half the owners and workers of small manufacturing plants were foreigners, many of them newly arrived Jewish refugees from Central Europe".
Despite antisemitism and increasing xenophobia, Jews became involved in most sectors of Argentine society. Still, they were unable to work in the government or military and so many became farmers, peddlers, artisans and shopkeepers. Cultural and religious organizations flourished and a Yiddish press and theater opened in Buenos Aires, as well as a Jewish hospital and a number of Zionist organizations.
Argentina kept its doors open to Jewish immigration until 1938. After that, new regulations were imposed by the government and the flow was severely curtailed at the very moment when the Jews sought a safe haven from the Nazis.
Juan Perón's rise to power in 1946 worried many Jews. Though it was Juan Perón who, as Minister of War, eventually signed Argentina's declaration of war against the Axis Powers, as a nationalist he had initially expressed sympathy for the Axis powers. He had also specifically expressed admiration for Benito Mussolini.
Peron introduced Catholic religious instruction in public schools and allowed Argentina to become a haven for fleeing Nazis. One notable fugitive was Adolf Eichmann who lived in Argentina after World War II until 1960, when Israeli agents abducted him from a Buenos Aires suburb. Eichmann faced trial in Jerusalem, on April 1961.
Since then, more than 45,000 Jews have migrated to Israel from Argentina. On the other hand, Perón also expressed sympathy for Jewish rights and established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949. Perón's government was also the first, in Argentina, to allow Jewish citizens to hold office.
Peron was overthrown in 1955, which was followed by another wave of antisemitism. In the 1950s and 60s, the Tacuara Nationalist Movement, a fascist organization with political ties, began a series of antisemitic campaigns with street fights and vandalism of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries.
Argentina was under military rule between 1976 and 1983. During this period, Jews were increasingly targeted for kidnapping and torture by the ruling junta; about 2,000 known victims of state terrorism were Jews. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel had a special agreement with the Argentine government to allow Jews arrested for political crimes to immigrate to Israel.
During the 1982 Falklands War, around 250 Jewish soldiers served in the Falkland Islands and strategic points in Patagonia. During their service, they experienced regular Antisemitic attacks from officers. The Argentine government allowed five rabbis to visit them: these were the only chaplains permitted to accompany the Argentine Army during the conflict, and they remain the only non-Catholic chaplains ever permitted to serve.
According to author Hernán Dobry, the only reason the rabbis were permitted to visit Jewish soldiers was because Argentina had been sourcing weapons from Israel, and did not want to risk the relationship "for the sake of five rabbis". During the war, Jewish soldiers enjoyed a close relationship with the rabbis, and opened up to them about the Antisemitic insults.
In 1983, Raúl Alfonsín was democratically elected as president of Argentina. Alfonsín enjoyed the support of the Jewish population and placed many Jews in high positions. Carlos Saul Menem was elected president in 1989, his Arab origin and support of Perón worried the Jews; however, he did not follow in Perón's footsteps. Menem appointed many Jews to his government, visited Israel a number of times, and offered to help mediate the Israeli-Arab peace process. After a Jewish cemetery was desecrated in Buenos Aires, Menem immediately expressed his outrage to the Jewish community and, within a week, apprehended those responsible.
President Menem also ordered the release of files relating to Argentina's role in serving as a haven for Nazi war criminals. A law against racism and antisemitism was passed in the Argentine parliament in 1988.
Despite Menem's sympathetic policies and a democratic regime, the Jews of Argentina were targets of two major terrorist attacks, both of which remain unsolved: the Israeli Embassy was bombed in March 1992, killing 29 people, and in July 1994 the Jewish community center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires was bombed as well, killing 85 people and wounding over 200. The community's archives were partially destroyed in the bombing and the event left many emotionally scarred.
In 2005, an Argentine prosecutor said the AMIA bombing was carried out by a 21-year-old Lebanese suicide bomber who belonged to Hezbollah. In 2006, Argentine Justice indicted seven high-ranking former Iranian officials and one senior Hezbollah member as suspects of being involved in the planning and execution of the AMIA bombing. In 2007, Interpol ordered a red notice to capture the Iranian fugitives. Since then, the Argentine government has requested that Iran extradite the Iranian citizens accused for the attack in order to be judged by an Argentine or a foreign court,but Iran has refused. During the economic crisis of 1999–2002, approximately 4,400 Argentine Jews made aliyah to Israel. Due to the economic situation several Jewish institutes such as schools, community centres, clubs and congregations merged.
A 2011 poll conducted by the Gino Germani Research Institute of the University of Buenos Aires on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League and Delegacion de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas showed that a majority of Argentines held anti-semitic sentiments or prejudices. Of the 1,510 Argentines quizzed, 82% agreed that Jews are preoccupied with making money, 49% said that they "talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust", 68% said that they have "too much power in the business world", and 22% said that the Jews killed Jesus. The majority of people interviewed also expressed belief that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their country of birth.
Today, approximately 250,000 Jews live in Argentina, down from 310,000 in the early 1960s.Most of Argentina's Jews live in Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario. Argentina's Jewish population is the largest Jewish community in Latin America, the third-largest in the Americas (after that of the United States and Canada), and the seventh-largest in the world. By law, the Jews are allowed two days of vacation on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first two and last two days of Passover.
In February 2009, Argentina expelled Richard Williamson, a British Roman Catholic Bishop. Williamson who headed a seminary near Buenos Aires was ordered to leave for 'concealing true activity' (he had entered the country as an employee of a non-governmental group, not a priest); the decision cited his Holocaust denial.
The history of the Jews in Latin America began with seven sailors arriving in Christopher Columbus's crew. Since then, the Jewish population of Latin America has risen to more than 500,000 — most of whom live in Argentina, with large communities also present in Brazil and Mexico.
A HISTORY OF JEWS IN ARGENTINA
Jewish Journal, Leila Miller, July 16 2014
Argentina’s Jewish community is the largest in Latin America, with 240,000 Jews, most of them living in Buenos Aires. The majority of them are Ashkenazi, and about 15 percent are Sephardic.
According to a 2005 socio-demographic study by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish community in Argentina dates back more than 140 years (although Jews first came to Argentina in the early 16th century, following their expulsion from Spain). The first minyan was held in 1882, in La Congregacion Israelita de Buenos Aires, and by the early 1900s there were 100,000 Jewish immigrants, mostly from Eastern Europe. These included Jewish gauchos, or cowboys, who established Jewish rural agricultural communities.
During World War II, Jewish immigration was prohibited; after the war, President Juan Peron permitted some Nazis to seek refuge in Argentina, among them Adolf Eichmann, who was captured by Israel’s Mossad in 1960. The peak of Jewish immigration came in the early 1960s, and the national census of 1960 recognized a Jewish population of 275,000.
In 1976, during the military dictatorship, Jews made up only 1 percent of Argentina’s population. However, they were approximately 5 percent of the as many as 30,000 people who “disappeared” — were kidnapped, arrested and executed — during what is known as the “Dirty War.”
“Young people from Jewish backgrounds had a tendency to work in professions that had to do with social issues,” said Guillermo Lipis, an Argentine journalist who investigated Jews during the dictatorship. “A lot were involved in socially oriented careers like medicine, law and sociology, and worked as activists. They worked in places that the repressors attacked.”
The community, which has always been concentrated in the middle class, was particularly affected by Argentina’s economic crises in the early 1990s and 2000s, during which many Argentine Jews migrated to Canada, the United States and Israel. According to Ana Roitemberg, Hebrew University’s representative in Argentina, 2001 saw the emergence of the “new poor” in the Jewish community — people from the middle class who had lost their jobs or could not access their bank accounts, which the government had frozen because of bank runs.
“It wasn’t the structural poor that one was accustomed to see,” she said. “These were people very well dressed, with an apartment, but they didn’t have money to go to the supermarket. A lot more Jews started to come to the [Jewish] institutions to ask for help.”
However, she said that the community has recovered substantially since then and that the institutions supported by the middle class are growing. The DAIA, the umbrella Jewish organization in Argentina, is located in Buenos Aires, as is the AMIA, the major Jewish community center. The Fundación Tzedaká provides social services for Jews and non-Jews, and there are several Jewish clubs that organize social activities for youths.
According to the 2005 study, 39 percent of Jews in Buenos Aires are connected to a synagogue or other Jewish organization, and 65 percent identify as observant on some level. Sixty percent of Jewish primary and secondary students in Buenos Aires attend a Jewish school.
Roitemberg said Jewish religious practice is mostly Conservative, but with a large Chabad presence. Today, about 55 synagogues are in Buenos Aires, along with about 70 Jewish educational institutions and 20 kosher restaurants. Buenos Aires also is home to a replica of the Anne Frank house, the only one outside of Amsterdam, as well as the only kosher McDonald’s outside of Israel.
World Jewish Congress
The Argentine Jewish community is the largest in Latin America. There are 180,000 Jews in Buenos Aires, 20,000 in Rosario, and smaller communities in Cordoba (9,000) and in Santa Fe (4,000). The towns of La Plata, Bahia Blanca, Mendoza, and Mar del Plata each have a Jewish population of 4,000. Jews also reside in rural areas.
The majority of Argentine Jewry is Ashkenazi, with roots in central and eastern Europe. About 15% are Sephardim, descendants of immigrants from Syria, Turkey, and North Africa. Jews of east European stock are called "Rusos," whereas those with Middle Eastern roots are called "Turcos." Today most Jews are native Spanish speakers, and both Yiddish and Ladino are on the wane.
Argentine Jewry plays a prominent role in industry, commerce, politics, the free professions, and the arts. The democratic regime is seen as a catalyst accelerating the integration, and consequently the assimilation, of Jews in Argentina.
The major political Jewish organization is the Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations (DAIA), which represents all communities and organizations before the authorities and is responsible for safeguarding the rights of its members. The largest organization representing the Ashkenazi majority is the Argentina Jewish Mutual Aid Association (AMIA). The organization deals with the religious and cultural activities of the Ashkenazi community. It is also responsible for social welfare, and the operation of several old-age homes, a Jewish hospital, and a community restaurant for the needy. The Sephardi community has three organizations of its own. The Vaad ha-Kehillot is the umbrella organization of all the communities in the provinces. The Zionist Federation (OSA) and its women's organizations are very active. The headquarters of the Latin American Jewish Congress is situated in Buenos Aires.
The bomb that devastated the Buenos Aires Jewish community center (the seat of DAIA and AMIA) in July 1994 was a physical and emotional blow to Argentine Jewry. The explosion cost 100 lives, Jews and non-Jews, and injured many more. It also destroyed the archives of the 100-year-old community. This attack followed the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Much criticism has been directed against the government and the president for not doing enough to apprehend the perpetrators of these terrorist attacks.
In an effort to improve Argentina's public image, tainted as it was by anti-Semitism and the presence of Nazi criminals, and due to pressure by the World Jewish Congress, President Menem ordered the release of files concerning Nazis in Argentina. In 1988 the Parliament also passed a law against racism and anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, there are still some 30 small neo-Nazi groups. In general, Menem developed a pro-Israeli, pro-Jewish, and pro-American line and made a commitment to combating anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
Traditionally the Ashkenazim and Sephardim have their own separate synagogues and religious institutions. The majority of the synagogues are Orthodox, but in practice many are closer to the Conservative movement. Buenos Aires has 50 Orthodox synagogues, five Conservative, and one Reform. In 1962 the Conservative movement established the Argentine branch of the New York-based Jewish Theological Seminary, which trains students for the rabbinate. Kosher food is readily available. There are many kosher butcher shops and markets, as well as several kosher restaurants.
CULTURE AND EDUCATION
There are some 70 Jewish educational institutions in Argentina, including elementary and secondary day schools and kindergartens, with some 22,000 Jewish pupils. About 17,000 Jewish children (20%) study in the Jewish educational system of Buenos Aires. Most of the schools have a Zionist bent. The Latin American Jewish Congress publishes the monthly, Oji, and the journal, Cologio. Buenos Aires is home to an independent branch of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which was first founded in Vilna in the 1920s.
In Buenos Aires, there is also a Jewish museum, three libraries, and four Jewish book-stores. Each community has its own social club: Sociedad Hebraica (Ashkenazi) and Casa Sephardi. Cordoba has an impressive community center. The Maccabi Sport Federation is also very active in Argentina.
Anti-semitism in Argentina Jerusalem Post MAY 6, 2015
Jewish Sites of Interest in Argentina
Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society) Wikipedia
The Jewish Virtual Library
From History of the Jews in Latin America and the Caribbean fled to South America running away from the Hitler and the SS
History of the Jews in Argentina
Andinia Plan - Proposals for a Jewish state
A history of Jews in Argentina by Leila Miller, Jewish Journal, July 16 2014
Argentina’s Last Jewish Cowboys
Argentina and the Jews: A History of Jewish Immigration (Judaic Studies) Paperback – 31 Aug 2002 by Haim Avni (Author)
The New Jewish Argentina, Adriana Brodsky and Raanan Rein, 2013
Moises Ville by Dr. Gerhard Falk
CENTRAL AND S AMERICA -
THE JEWS OF ARGENTINA
The Jews in Argentina were fleeing the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition. An organized community developed only after Argentina gained independence from Spain in 1810. Emancipation from the Spanish Empire led the General Assembly of 1813 to officially abolished the Inquisition.
A second wave of Jewish immigration began in the mid-19th century especially from France. The late 19th century saw immigrants fleeing poverty and pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, who became known as rusos, "Russians", arriving by using the Argentinian open-door immigration policy.
In 1889, 824 Russian Jews arrived in Argentina and became gauchos (Argentine cowboys). They bought land and established a colony named Moiseville. In dire economic straits, they appealed to the French Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch, who founded the Jewish Colonization Association. In its heyday, the Association owned more than 600,000 hectares of land, populated by over 200,000 Jews. Between 1906 and 1912, some 13,000 Jews immigrated to Argentina every year, mostly from Europe, but also from Morocco and the Ottoman Empire. By 1920, more than 150,000 Jews in Argentina.
January 1919 saw the Buenos Aires, pogroms fomented by the police in response to a general strike that targeted the Jews and destroyed their property. Afterwards civilian vigilante gangs (the Argentine Patriotic League) went after agitators ("agitadores"), claiming scores of victims, including Russian Jews falsely accused of masterminding a Communist conspiracy. By 1939 half the owners and workers in small manufacturing plants were foreigners, many of whom were newly arrived Jewish refugees from Central Europe".
Despite antisemitism and increasing xenophobia, Jews became involved in most sectors of Argentine society though they were unable to work in the government or military and so many became farmers, peddlers, artisans and shopkeepers. Cultural and religious organizations flourished such as the Yiddish press and theater in Buenos Aires, a Jewish hospital and some Zionist organizations.
1955 saw the start of another wave of antisemitism.
Today it has the largest Jewish community in Latin America, the third-largest in the Americas (after that of the United States and Canada), and the seventh-largest in the world with a population of 500,000. By law, the Jews are allowed two days of vacation on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first two and last two days of Passover.
The current Jewish population is 80% Ashkenazi (from Eastern Europe).
STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE