Jewish Tours

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Virtual Jewish History Tour


By Beth Weiss

Present Day

At present there are fewer than 10,000 Jews in the capital of Santiago. The majority are not affiliated religiously. There are two day schools in the country as well as a clinic and old age home for the community.

There are four main communities: Santiago, which is Ashkenazi; the B'nai Jisroel Cultural Society of German descent, Mazse Philanthropic Center of Hungarian origin, and the Sephardi Jewish Community. Two newspapers are circulated within the Jewish communities. La Palabra Israelita is the Ashkenazi paper and Revista Shalom is the Zionist publication.

Anti-Semitic acts have grown due to small Neo-Nazi groups. Nazi organizations and their publications and legal. Despite this, Jews continue to be influential and active in politics, theatre and music, education and the arts. The President sometimes attends Rosh Hashanah services in Santiago. In the mid 1990s, Don Francisco (born Mario Kreutzberger) was a popular Jewish television actor. Actors Alejandro Cohen and Nissim Sharim, along with actresses Birginia Fischer, Jael Unger and Anita Klesky are also well-known Jewish personalities. Vitor Tevah is a famous violinist and once the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra and 1980 winner of the National Art Prize. Andy Pollack is a jazz musician of Jewish descent.

Other famous Jews in the fields of science and medicine include Alejandro Lipschuetz, anthropologist and endocrinologist who broke ground on research on the Southern Hemisphere Indians, and Dr. Abraham Horowitz, director of the Pan American Health Service. Efrain Freidmann is the director of the Chilean Atomic Research Committee and Jaime Wisnaik is the director of the department of engineering at the Catholic University of Santiago.

There are two Jewish day schools in Chile. The largest is the Instituto Hebreo (also known as the Haim Weizman-ORT Hebrew Institue) in Santiago with 1,700 students. A smaller school opened recently, the Collegio Maimonodes. It has 150 students enrolled.

The University of Chile in Santiago has had a Jewish Studies Department since 1968.

One of the most interesting phenomena in Chile is a group of fire fighters who are all Jews. The fire department in Chile is a volunteer fire department, and many different national groups have their own group of volunteers. The Jewish fire department is called “Bomba Israel” and the fire engines fly both a Chilean flag and an Israeli flag.

A small Jewish community of about 1,000 exists in Viña del Mar. A Conservative congregation of about 150 families is a part of the community.

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