Buenos Aires, Argentina
ARGENTINA, South American Federal Republic, general population (2004) 39,150,000; Jewish population 190,000.
In the second half of the 20th century and to a remarkable extent since the 1970s, Jews constituted an integral part of Argentine cultural life. Jewish participation was evident in every sphere of culture – teaching and research, literature, journalism, theater, cinema and television, the visual arts, and classical and popular music. The Jewish presence in these fields goes far beyond any discussion about the Jewish character of their cultural activity and should be considered Jewish creativity as such. While this multifaceted cultural creativity does in fact exhibit a profound connection with Jewish roots, there is at the same time rich cultural activity among Jews that entirely lacks Jewish particularity, being woven into the deepest layers of Argentinean culture, like the tango of Buenos Aires.
Jewish institutions have always been a vital outlet for this cultural activity. Literature, theater, music, lectures attracted the Jewish public throughout the 20th century and continue to do so today, despite the economic and social crisis that affected broad sectors of society. The cultural fare of the Jewish institutions is rich and is well received by the Jewish public. In place of the Editorial Israel, a joint cultural venture promoted by CIRA and a well-known Jewish family, which published many Jewish books from the 1940s to the 1960s, the Ashkenazi community AMIA established the Editorial Milá, which since 1986 has published hundreds of books, including literature, essays, testimonies, and research studies. In 2001–4 Milá published dozens of books, most of them in the original Spanish, as well as a number of translations, particularly from Yiddish.
In the provinces the situation is less encouraging, as these regions are to a large extent dependent upon events and activities organized by the Va'ad ha-Kehillot, whose headquarters are in Buenos Aires.
The change in the language used by Jews has been clearly reflected not just in the schools or in cultural and public activity but also in another dimension of cultural life – journalism. Since the 1970s Yiddish and German have almost disappeared from the print media in favor of Spanish. Arabic was common only on a colloquial level and periodicals in Hebrew were always a rare phenomenon. There are weekly or monthly publications like Mundo Israelita and La Luz – founded in the 1920s and 1930s, respectively – Nueva Sión (1948), Comunidades (1980s), and La Voz Judía (1990s). In recent years there were also daily news publications on the Internet like Iton Gadol and Shalom OnLine. In the 1990s Jewish TV cable and radio stations like Aleph and FM Jai were also established, of which only the latter still exists.
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