09 February 2009

Argentina: Ashkenazi Jewish history

I didn't expect to find a story about Eastern European Jews in Argentina in the Financial Times.

However, it was a bit disconcerting that an article titled "Argentina's Jewish heritage," completely ignored the Sephardic community, only addressing Ashkenazi history..

The charms of Entre Ríos, a northeastern province of Argentina, are more modest than those of Patagonia’s snow-dusted peaks or the waterfalls at Iguazú. Its rural culture is founded on old-fashioned etiquette, stirring folk music and bountiful nature. It also has an important place in Jewish history, as it was once the home of thousands of east European Jews who escaped the pogroms and came to farm here in the 19th century. Close to Buenos Aires, it also makes a great short break from the Argentine capital.

Entre Ríos’s fortunes were transformed by 19th-century European immigrants. Millions of poor Europeans were lured by unlimited land and open immigration laws. The settlers – largely from central and eastern Europe – set up colonies perpetuating their individual traditions. Local radio stations broadcast in German, Polish and Russian.

From 1888, Jews escaping Russian pogroms headed for the New World in a mass emigration organized by Baron Maurice de Hirsch, who bought vast lands to organize Jewish farming colonies. there were 600,000 hectares in Argentina and 40,000 Jews settled more than 200 towns.

Russian Jews arrived to found farming colonies in Entre Ríos from 1895. The most successful had synagogues, Yiddish schools, public baths and cultural centres hosting European theatre groups. Basavilbaso - once a Russian Jewish town - has a statue of a menorah in the main square and three synagogues.

Read more, at the link above, about Basavilbaso, its cemeteries, where the children of the town live today, and the Novibuco cemetery.


  1. Anonymous6:01 AM

    I, BEING A member of hispanic heritage of the Mendoza genealogy am interested in the study of the jewish people in Argentina. My grandfather immigrated from Mexico into the United States and married a United States citizen and served in our military service and is believed to have derived from the Argentinean line in the 1800s.

    Thank You for your contribution by which I obtained knowledge.
    R. Mendoza

  2. Anonymous2:45 PM

    My ancestors are Eastern European Jews. One of them came back from Argentina to Moldova in the late 19th Century and married my great grandmother. I'm trying to locate any information on him or his family and the article actually points me into direction I can try to research.
    Victoria K.