Jewish Tours

Buenos Aires, Argentina


ARGENTINA, South American Federal Republic, general population (2004) 39,150,000; Jewish population 190,000.


The Jewish population of Argentina was estimated at about 187,000 in 2003. At its peak, in the 1960s, the community had numbered approximately 310,000, but had steadily declined since that time. The Jewish population – about 80% Ashkenazi – was mostly urban. Memories of Jewish agricultural settlement and the "Jewish gaucho" retained their places of honor in communal consciousness, reinforcing the idea that Jews were an old and legitimate element in the predominantly Catholic Argentine society, and in the Argentinean

Jewish Population of Argentina, 1895–2004

Year Total
Estimated Jewish population Jewish population(*) Percent of the Jewish population
(*) Based on research by U. Schmelz, S. DellaPergola, and B. Bloch. See S. Della Pergola, "Demographic Trends of Latin American Jewry," in L. Laikin Elkin and G. Merkx (eds.), The Jewish Presence in Latin America (1987). See also S. Della Pergola in recent editions of the American Jewish Yearbook.
1895 3,954,911 6,085
1900 6,700–15,600 14,700
1905 22,500–25,400 24,700
1910 (1911) 7,171,910 55,000–68,700 68,100 0.95
1914 7,885,273 100,000–116,300 115,600 1.47
1920 (1921) 8,698,516 120,000–126,900 126,700 1.46
1925 9,548,092 160,400–200,000 162,300 1.7
1930 (1928) 10,646,814 200,200–218,500 191,400 1.8
1935 12,227,761 226,400–253,500 218,000 1.78
1940 (1941) 13,320,641 254,400 1.9
1945 350,000 273,400
1947 15,893,827 249,330–350,000 285,800 1.8
1950 16,109,000 360,000 294,000 1.83
1955 18,379,000 360,000 305,900 1.66
1960 20,008,945 291,877–450,000 310,000 1.55
1965 21,719,000 450,000 296,600 1.37
1970 23,983,000 500,000 286,300 1.19
1975 24,290,000 475,000 265,000 1.09
1980 26,060,000 300,000 242,000 0.93
1995 34,995,000 300,000 206,000 0.59
2001 37,032,000 197,000 0.53
2004 39,144,753 190,000 0.49

tourist industry, which was eager to exploit the image to get American Jews to come for a visit. But this image is divorced from contemporary reality. At present, the Jewish agricultural settlements and the Jewish communities in rural areas are almost nonexistent. More than 80% of the Jewish population lives in the urban area of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and its suburbs, and another 10% in cities of more than a million inhabitants (Córdoba, Rosario, Tucumán, and La Plata).

One reason for the constant demographic decline is the low birthrate. As in other urban and middle-class Jewish communities around the world, the low birthrate means an aging Jewish population. The average age, which was estimated at 25–27 in 1930, 31 in 1947, and 35 in 1960, jumped to over 40 in the 1970s and is continuously rising. The second reason is the growing number of Jews that abandon the community and assimilate into the majority society, many through exogamous marriages, which increase steadily. While no exact statistics are available, the intermarriage rate, approximately calculated in the mid-1930s to reach 1–5% and in the 1960s 20–25%, is now estimated at 40% and up. In addition, there is also a negative migratory balance. While in the period from the end of the 19th century until World War II Argentina was a receptive country for Jewish immigration, and in the Holocaust years – in spite of the restrictive legislation and the complete closure of the Argentinean borders to Jewish immigration after 1938 – about 40,000 Jews entered the country in legal and illegal ways. In 1945–50 about 1,500 Holocaust survivors immigrated to Argentina. The 1950s was the last decade with a positive migratory balance with the immigration of Jews from Hungary and Egypt. From the 1960s on, the community was characterized by emigration. The best statistically known destination of emigration was the State of Israel. The rate of aliyah was proportionally among the highest in the western Jewish Diaspora. Since the establishment of Israel close to 59,000 Jews from Argentina made aliyah. Zionism and antisemitism were important reasons for this emigration, but economic difficulties seemed to predominate, especially among the 9,500 Jews who emigrated in the first four years of the 21st century. This factor also motivated considerable immigration to the U.S., Canada, and other countries in Latin America, and, to a lesser extent, Western Europe. While it is almost impossible to measure this migration, it seems reasonable to assume that it affects many thousands of Argentinean Jews.

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