1860 - 2015

Jews in Argentina

AMIA Jewish Community in Argentina

Within the context of the policies to promote immigration fostered by Argentina, the first organized presence of Jewish life dates back to the 1860s, when a small group of French, German and English Jewish immigrants created, in 1862, the Congregación Israelita. Those first Jewish immigrants were followed by others coming from the Spanish Morocco, who created their community in 1891.

Sephardic synagogue from Moroccan Jews
Aschkenazi synagogue Congregación Israelita
At the Immigrant Hotel

The real beginning of massive Jewish immigration into the country is related to the arrival of the first organized group of 120 families in the vapor Wesser, on August 14th, 1889. The arrival of this group of Jewish immigrants that was fleeing from the Tsarist Russian pogroms, originates the singular existence of Jewish agricultural colonies in Argentina. This important experience is related to the Baron Maurice Hirsch, a German Jewish philanthropist that created the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), a found that gave birth to tens of agricultural colonies in different provinces, facilitated the colonists the accesses and tenure of land ant to the needed tools. Provided them with housing and communal life that included schools, socio-cultural centers and synagogues.

Model of the vapor Wesser
Colony Mauricio

The Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) founded, among many others, the colonies of Moises Ville in the Province of Santa Fe, Mauricio and Rivera in the Province of Buenos Aires and Basavilbaso in Entre Ríos. It was there, where the mythical figure of the Jewish Gaucho was born.

Jewish "gaucho", in Moises Ville.
Moisés Ville

The Jewish immigrants showed since the first moment a touching creativity that was expressed in this rural context with the expansion of schools, health centers, new agricultural developments and, quite significantly, with the creation and consolidation of agricultural cooperativism, whose first  institution dates back to 1900.

Rural school
Warehouse Cooperativas Agrícolas de Entre Ríos
Agricultural Cooperative Society "Barón Hirsch", Rivera

As for the urban context, since the end of the XIX Century there was a massive flow of Jewish immigrants who arrived from Eastern and Central Europe, from Mediterranean countries and from the Middle East. This flow was significant during the first decades of the following century, and it was interrupted during the First World War. It was resumed massively during the 20s, and up until the 30s, when the immigration possibilities were reduced despite the urgent need the Jews had to flee from Nazism in Europe and find a new home where to find refuge. The immigration cycle virtually ends with the arrival of Holocaust survivors in the 40s.

Asociación Filantrópica Israelita
Facade of the first premises of AMIA

In order to help solve situations immigrants had face upon their arrival, in 1894 the Jevrá Kedushá AMIA was created. This organization developed a scheme of solidarity and mutual aid to ensure sustenance and funding for the creation of schools and cultural centers, to support Zionist groups and to facilitate interaction with the society in general, of which immigrants were beginning to be part.

Founding document of Jevra Kedusha (AMIA)
School students from Sholem Aleichem school in "Jewish Book Month" in AMIA
Natan Gesang school
Tarbut school

The immigrants’ creativity began taking form in Buenos Aires, both in the main urban centers and in small locations with the creation of organizations.

Jewish Scholem Aleijem School in the city of Corrientes
Talpiot school
I.L. Peretz school

Ashkenazi and Sephardic synagogues were created, as well as Yiddish and Hebrew schools, socialist, anarchist, Zionist and traditionalist political Jewish associations were formed, as well as Jewish work unions which had a bond with the national ones, there were newspapers in Spanish, Yiddish, Hebrew and German that published Argentinean literature translated into those languages and Jewish literature translated into Spanish. There were also social, cultural, sports, welfare centers, libraries and theatres.

Orphan asylum for Jewish girls
Facade of the premises of Hogar Israelita Argentino para Ancianos y Niños
Meeting of the International Pen Club in Buenos Aires
Jewish theater in Argentina
Sociedad Hebraica Argentina
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, at a meeting in Organización Hebrea Argentina Macabi
Club Náutico Hacoaj

All these institutions shared the mission of accompanying integration of the Jewish community members into the general society, preserving at the same time their Jewish heritage, their values, ideals, traditions, religious rituals ant the close relationship with Israel as a Jewish state.

Golda Meir at the celebration of Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day of Israel), at the Luna Park stadium

During the years of massive immigration, the Jewish immigrants generally began their integration at the base levels of economy, as street vendors, construction workers and craftsmen. The economic and social ascent favored basically by public education and the socio-economic development of the country, allowed them, as well as thousands of other immigrants, a growing integration into the middle class. This progress was especially reflected on their merchant, industrial and professional activities.

Textil factory
ORT’s manufactures workshops
Jewish food in Buenos Aires

Jewish life in Argentina was not free of hard times, moments of pain and confrontation. The Tragic Week in 1919, A worker’s strike that turned into persecutions and killing of Jews is an example of this. So are too the limitations for Jewish immigrants to enter Argentina in the 30s, the presence and dissemination of Nazi ideology in some sectors of society, with war criminals being accepted into the country, the emergence of anti-Semitic and nationalist groups linked to the Arab cause, the violence against Jewish “desaparecidos” during the military dictatorship in the 70s and the terrorist attacks against the Embassy of Israel in 1992 and against AMIA in 1994.

Tragic Week
Manifestations against anti-Semitism
Manifestations against military dictatorship in Argentina
Terrorist attack against the Embassy of Israel in Buenos Aires
Terrorist attack against AMIA in Buenos Aires
Terrorist attack against AMIA in Buenos Aires
Demanding remembrance and justice

The terrorist attack to AMIA in July, 1994 took 85 lives and left more than 300 wounded. A building holding records of Jewish history destroyed. An open wound that does not closed until today, because no Justice has been served.

Names of the victims of the terrorist attack against AMIA, in the new building’s facade

Having overcome all these difficult situations throughout almost a century and a half of organized Jewish life in Argentina, the descendants of all those first immigrants have become a part of Argentinean society, with active participation in all spheres of the Argentine society.

Ajdut Israel
Playing Domino and Burako
A Jewish wedding
In the agricultural colony, drinking “mate”
Jewish food
Parade of descendants of the first settlers in Moises Ville, with flags of Israel and Argentina.
Synagogue in Villa Clara, Province of Entre Rios

The Jewish population calculated today at about 220,000 Jews live in its vast majority (85%) in Buenos Aires and 15% in the interior of the country, in 54 different communities, each one of them with its Kehila, its school, its club and their synagogues.

There are all around the country Jewish schools of all levels and various ideological and religious currents in which around 20,000 students are studying and whose 1,200 teachers of Jewish subjects are trained in local training spaces.

The social and cultural life take place in different clubs and community centers where Jewish music, dance, and cultural experience are transmitted. The strong link with Israel is part of Jewish life and has as protagonists the Zionist youth movements and political groupings. Religious life has its expression in 73 synagogues of different trends where holidays and ceremonies of the Jewish life cycle are celebrated.

Yesod Hadat
Synagogue Or Torah
Holocaust museum in Buenos Aires
Elderly home LeDor VaDor
Synagogue Gran Templo de Paso

AMIA, Jewish Community, founded in 1894 is popularly known as the “mother institution”, the center of community organized life. Its mission is the integrated development of all aspects of Jewish life in Argentina.

Cultural activity in AMIA
Celebration of AMIA’s 120º Anniversary in the Colon Theater

Its activities are displayed in: social programs, education, employment and training, culture, spiritual assistance and Jewish burial, space for seniors, preservation of memory, ties with Israel, integration of disabled persons, support the communities of the Interior, activities for youth, and relations with other Jewish communities worldwide.

Homage to Jewish disappeared during the military dictatorship

The Jewish community of the Argentina, still today providing their best effort to the construction of the country and the strengthening of a democratic, pluralist, and fair society based on coexistence in diversity and pluralism.

Credits: Story

Curaduría y textos — Ana E. Weinstein, Directora del Centro de Documentación e Información sobre Judaísmo Argentino "Marc Turkow", AMIA
Asistente de curaduría y producción digital  — Sabrina Charaf, Asistente del Centro de Documentación e Información sobre Judaísmo Argentino "Marc Turkow", AMIA
Asesor — Gabriel Scherman, Director del Departamento de Socios y Comunicación, AMIA
Colaboradoras — Marina Hayon y Melina Serber, AMIA
Fotografías — Archivo Fotográfico del Centro de Documentación e Información sobre Judaísmo Argentino "Marc Turkow" de AMIA, Archivo General de la Nación, Hogar LeDor VaDor, Sinagoga Or Torah, Alicia Segal, Silvana Luverá, Leonardo Kremenchuzky, Florencia Arbeleche, Manrique Zago, Daniel Caldirola (publicadas en el libro Retratos de una comunidad. Idea, producción y dirección general: Elio Kapszuk. AMIA, 2005).

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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