History of the Jews in Argentina: Wikis

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Argentine Jews
José Ber Gelbard Lalo Schifrin Jorge Guinzburg
Notable Argentine Jews:
José Ber Gelbard · Lalo Schifrin · Jorge Guinzburg
Total population
300,000[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Predominantly in Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Province, Córdoba Province, Santa Fe Province, and Entre Rios Province
Languages

Predominantly Spanish. Some speak Hebrew, Judaeo-Spanish, Yiddish, Russian, or German

Religion

Judaism

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.[3] 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.[3][4] The current Jewish population is 80% Ashkenazi.[5]

Contents

Early history

After the expulsion from Spain in 1492, conversos, or secret Jews, settled in Argentina, assimilating into the general population.[3] After Argentina gained its independence from Spain in 1810, Bernardino Rivadavia, Argentina’s first president, officially abolished the Inquisition. A second wave of Jewish immigration began in the mid-19th century, mostly from western Europe, especially France. In 1860, the first Jewish wedding was recorded in Buenos Aires.[3] 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.[3]

Agricultural settlement

Baron Maurice de Hirsch (1831-1896)

The number of Jews immigrating 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. [6] 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. [6]

Sephardic Temple, Barracas district, Buenos Aires

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)[7], 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.[8]

Buenos Aires Jewish community

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.[9] The Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe who settled in Argentina became known as "rusos" ("Russians") by the local population.[3] Some settled in the major cities, but many acquired land through the Jewish Colonization Association[3] and established small agricultural colonies ("comunas") in the interior of the country, especially in the provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos.[10]

Jews in Argentina came to play an important role in Argentine society, but anti-Semitism 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.[3] In the strike's aftermath civilian vigilante gangs (the Argentine Patriotic League) went after agitators ("agitadores"), claiming scores of victims, mostly Russian Jews who were falsely accused of masterminding a Communist conspiracy.[10] In 1939 half the owners and workers of small manufacturing plants were foreigners, many of them newly arrived Jewish refugees from Central Europe.[11]

Despite anti-semitism 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.

World War II, The Holocaust, and anti-Semitism

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. [12]

Jewish-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA), Buenos Aires, rebuilt after a 1994 terrorist attack

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 being Adolf Eichmann who lived in Argentina after WWII 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 immigrated to Israel from Argentina. On the other hand, Perón also expressed sympathy for Jewish rights and established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949.[3] Perón's government was also the first, in Argentina, to allow Jewish citizens to hold office. [1]

Peron was overthrown in 1955, which was followed by another wave of anti-Semitism. In the 1950s and 60s, the Tacuara Nationalist Movement, a fascist organization with political ties, began a series of anti-Semitic campaigns with street fights and vandalism of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries.[13]

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 1,000 of the 9,000 known victims of state terrorism were Jews. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli government had a special agreement with the Argentine government to allow Jews arrested for political crimes to immigrate to Israel.

Central Synagogue of Buenos Aires

The return to democracy and the AMIA terrorist attack

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 anti-Semitism 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 32 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. Though Iran was suspected of involvement, Argentine police have not found the culprits. In 2005, an Argentine prosecutor said the AMIA bombing was carried out by a 21-year-old Lebanese suicide bomber who belonged to Hezbollah.

During the economic crisis of 1999–2002, approximately 4400 Argentine Jews made aliyah to Israel.[14] Due to the economic situation several Jewish institutes such as schools, community centres, clubs and congregations merged. [15]

Today

Today, approximately 250,000 Jews live in Argentina,[1][2][5] down from 310,000 in the early 1960s.[5]. Most of Argentina's Jews live in Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Rosario.[16] 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 sixth-largest in the world.[1][5] (See Jewish population) 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.[17]

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.[18][19]

Jewish Colonies in Argentina

[20]

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Buenos Aires Province

Entre Rios Province

  • Basavilbaso
  • Bovril
  • Clara
  • General Campos
  • La Clarita
  • Pueblo Arrua
  • San Salvador
  • Ubajay
  • Villa Dominguez

Santa Fe Province

  • Capivara
  • Ceres
  • Las Plameras
  • Luis Palacios
  • Moiseville
  • Virginia

La Pampa Province

  • BernaBernasconisconi
  • General Acha
  • Rolon

Santiago del Estero Province

  • Colonia Dora

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute; Annual Assessment, 2007
  2. ^ a b United Jewish Communities; Global Jewish Populations
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Weiner, Rebecca. "The Virtual Jewish History Tour - Argentina". http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/Argentina.html. Retrieved 2008-01-09.  
  4. ^ "Americas - Argentina; History". American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. http://www.jdc.org/p_amer_arg_history.html. Retrieved 2008-01-09.  
  5. ^ a b c d LeElef, Ner. "World Jewish Population". http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world-jewish-population.htm#_ftnref1. Retrieved 2008-01-09.  
  6. ^ a b Haim Avni (1991). Argentina and the Jews: A History of Jewish Immigration. University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0-8173-0554-8.  
  7. ^ (Spanish) Circuito Histórico de las Colonias Judías
  8. ^ Jewish Virtual Library: Entre Ríos
  9. ^ Argentina & Jews reveals little-known history, Miami Herald, Mario Diament, 1991
  10. ^ a b Argentina 1516-1987 by David Rock - Chapter V
  11. ^ Argentina 1516-1987 by David Rock - Chapter VI
  12. ^ Argentina & Jews reveals little-known history, Miami Herald Mario Diament, 1991
  13. ^ (Spanish) Tacuara salió a la calle, Página/12, May 15, 2005
  14. ^ Argentina Status Report on Aliyah
  15. ^ Faced With Little Economic Choice, Argentine Jewish Institutions Merge United Jewish Communities. October 30 2000
  16. ^ http://www.jdc.org/p_amer_arg_pop.html
  17. ^ Fiestas judías no laborables - Edición Nacional
  18. ^ Argentina expels Catholic bishop who questions Holocaust The Guardian. 20 February 2009
  19. ^ Jewish group hails Argentina’s decision to order expulsion of negationist priest European Jewish Press. 23 February 2009
  20. ^ Jewish Colonization Association Colonies in Argentina European Jewish Press. 23 February 2009

External links


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