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But there is a question, how to define an Argentinian Jew? Well, first you would define them as you would a Porteno (Buenos Aires Argentinian); first is appearance, drinking Mate in the small cups with a thermos under the arm. You could also define them as looking good and fashionable. You could even define them having a little bit of that Gaucho (Cowboy) spirit: independent and rough. I would also define them Speaking Spanish like an Italian, proud and a little bit secluded, isolated and as South Americans who think of themselves an Americans or Europeans.
|Rabbi of NCI-Emanu-El, Sergio Bergman, won the election but his run was not without controversy.|
And so, even if they move and Alijah to Israel, they return to the place where they have come to feel at home: Argentina. Because Argentina for Argentinian Jews is what it is for Italians, except instead of becoming Italians speaking Spanish, for Jews it’s Israelis speaking Spanish; and sipping mate.
At this time, a wealthy Swiss-Jewish Baron, in love with Argentina, Baron Hirsch, heard of the plight of the Jews and did something that no other rich person does for his poor countrymen. He bought Jews land and virtually gave it to them. No rich Irish man buys his most poor Irish land, no rich French man would do so either, but the uniqueness of the Jewish culture was that a rich Jewish man, continents away, did so for them and for much Argentina, donating his money, art and wealth to the country.
Argentina without Jews would be like any country that lost a piece of its population, like Egypt, Lithuania, Ukraine or Poland: a little poorer, a little more boring, a little less quirky. Without Jews, Argentina would be a place with ghost synagogues and ghost streets, with shops selling Jewish trinkets and Synagogue tours of the Jewish culture that used to be. It would be a little sadder, a little less vibrant, a little less Buenos Aires.
|Owner of the Sushi restaurant Michel, his mom and his sister.|
These Jews settling the Pampas were not farmers, but they persevered and instead of using their children as helpers, they sacrificed and sent them to schools and Universities. Soon Argentina was full of young, home grown professionals, working and pushing the country into the forefront of world affairs. Thus, in Argentina, in addition to adding another little piece to the rich fabric, Jews became an integral part by not only producing food and cultivating the Pampas, but by becoming lawyers, doctors and engineers that the country desperately needed. As the Jewish Gauchos would say: “We sow wheat and we harvest professionals.” Yet at the same time, Buenos Aires has given Israel its farmers, as the Jews who cultivated Argentina on land given to them by Baron Hirsch, later took those talents to later cultivate Israels swamps and deserts.
But there was more than charity. When no one would invest in Argentina, Hungarian born American George Soros, an Auschwitz survivor, land developer and billionaire, came in and rebuilt the port district, he came into Once and built one of the largest and most extravagant malls in Argentina. Out of despair, help arrived and soon, Argentina was on it’s way back.
|Graffiti in Argentina as elsewhere is an expression of people’s thoughts and feelings.|
The people are only learning to have a voice through demonstrations. Those unhappy with politics or people, still take it out in a form of graffiti. Some blame Jews and cross out Magen-Davids, and others draw swastikas and some paint Hitler mustaches under the lips of a Jewish Congress candidate. But things are looking better nevertheless. Here, the cardinal who is now pope visited the Synagogue for Chanukah and placed a plaque to the Jews inside the cathedral. Churches and synagogues set up food kitchens and Muslim kids and Hillel organize meetings and art lectures. And that Jewish conservative Rabbi candidate? Well he won the election.
So yes, it is true, Buenos-Aires is isolated, and it is time for their isolated secrets to leave and teach others.
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