Jewish community in
is more than one hundred years old and, in fact,
was once the fourth Jewish community in the world. Only a few years ago
half a million Jews lived in the country.
The JCCSF trip Discover Jewish Argentina took place last month with 14
participants. I had visited
more than twenty times but this was the first time I did it with Jewish
eyes which made this trip very special and different from prior visits.
Our trip began in
, center of Argentine Jewish life and a metropolis of more than ten
million people. We were guided by a member of the Community who took us
to two synagogues, several Jewish neighborhoods and the AMIA (Asociación
); the most important Jewish institution in the country. We attended a
Shabbat service at Templo Libertad, the largest synagogue in the city.
AMIA is the building that was destroyed in the July 1994 terrorist
attack that killed 85 people. This terrorist act followed the attack and
destruction of the Israeli embassy in March 1992. Both of these events
mark distinct before and after periods in the Jewish life of the
capital. Security is very tight and these rebuilt institutions but
despite these tragedies, the Jewish community of
is full of life and AMIA works hard to address present-day challenges
without forgetting the past. The new embassy of
has been constructed in a new location and the Jewish Community
continues to demand answers from the Government in order to punish those
responsible for these terrorist attacks.
is the city of tango,
barbecue, great museums, antique fairs and the Casa Rosada (Pink House)
made famous by the speeches that Evita Perón used to deliver from its
balcony. These sites and customs were part of our visit too.
After a one and a half hour flight we arrived in the city of
This city of 500,000 is one of the oldest in
and is home to a relatively small Jewish community. We visited the Haim
Nachman Bialyk Jewish School as well as the local synagogue.
very early and after a three hour bus ride we arrived in Moisesville.
This town (practically unheard of in the
) marked the beginning of Jewish life in
. In 1889 Moisesville was founded by the philanthropist Maurice Hirsch,
founder of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA.)
The first settlers to Moisesville came from
. Subsequent waves of Polish and German immigrants followed. These Jews
journeyed not only from the old world to the new; they adopted a new
language and had to become accustomed to a new climate and way of life.
Once artisans and trades people, in the
they became Gauchos Judios (Jewish Cowboys). Despite the dramatic
changes to their circumstances, these settlers maintained their
traditions by creating schools, synagogues and other Jewish
institutions. In the 1950s there were approximately 5,000 Jews living in
Moisesville; today there are around 300 and they comprise 10% of the
We visited the Baron Hirsch Synagogue, the Brenner Synagogue (designated
by UNESCO as one of the worlds one hundred at-risk cultural heritage,
and the Jewish cemetery.
One of the loveliest moments was at lunch; we were honored with a
traditional Jewish lunch including delicious knishes
Moisesville is very isolated and not easy to reach but the JCCSF Travel
Program accomplished one of its goals of visiting and learning about
Jewish life in obscure locations around the world.
We finished the voyage in
, arguably the most beautiful natural wonder of the world. This place on
the border between
is home to the powerful
, the majestic waterfalls, a lush subtropical forest and amazing jungle
animals. We visited both the Argentine and the Brazilian sides of the
falls and enjoyed getting soaked in an unforgettable boat ride
is a complex country
with a unique history, diverse landscapes, a multifaceted society and
incredible natural wonders. The JCCSF Travel Program was able to fashion
a journey that explored all of these elements, in addition to examining
the lesser-known but no less fascinating aspect of
’s Jewish history and culture. We are very lucky to have had the
opportunity to experience such a varied sampling of all that Argentina
has to offer and we look forward to operating similar programs to
explore Jewish history and life against a cultural backdrop of the many
different countries throughout the world which have been or continue to
be a home to local Jewish communities.
Program Manager & Spanish Teacher
Francisco CA USA