Celebrating Argentina’s Jewry
November 3, 2016
Posted by: Aimee Ellis, JFNA Israel Action Network Senior Associate for Community Strategy
One of my greatest passions is supporting Latin-American Jewry, particularly their influence and involvement in the arts and culture of the Americas. All my life I was fascinated by South America. I always imagined I’d fit in well within Argentina, if given the opportunity. At the time I wasn’t aware of the strong Jewish link.
Argentina has a substantial Jewish population (the third largest in the Americas) and a fascinating, related history. Living in Buenos Aires in college, I did indeed enjoy a very integrated experience, ‘passing’ as an Argentine during my time there. It was eye opening to learn of Argentina’s history of intense struggles against anti-Semitism and extremism – the building in Buenos Aires that houses their national Federation (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina or AMIA) and JCC was leveled in a horrific terrorist attack in 1994. Sadly the perpetrators were never brought to justice. It’s even suspected the Argentinian government at the time may have been in collusion with the attackers and, in recent years, a Jewish prosecutor named Alberto Nisman was mysteriously found dead a few days out from releasing new information on the bombing.
Last year, I was given an opportunity I’d dreamed of for a lifetime -- to help share the stories of Argentinian Jews with my own Bay Area Jewish community. JCRC and I helped arrange for a talk to be given by a leader of the Argentinian Jewish Community, Anita Weinstein, who miraculaously survived the AMIA bombing. Concurrently, we helped promote and support an Argentinian-Jewish Tango Orquestra (Orquesta Victoria) during its Bay Area tour. The tango's composer, Débora Simcovich, is a local artist and Argentinian-Jewish American.
This year, we again have an opportunity to learn about and celebrate Argentinian Jewry. Orquesta Victoria is back in the Bay Area to present a new tango series called El Mundo is The World. JCRC is a proud co-sponsor of the tour, along with the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and others. One of the tango songs will tell the tragic story of the murder of the aforementioned Argentine prosecutor, Nisman.
A little known fact is that, similar to the Jazz genre in America, Tango wouldn’t exist as we know it without the involvement and influence of Argentina's Jews.
I’m thrilled to be part of this continuing collaboration between Jews from around the Americas. We hope you can attend one of the Bay Area Tango shows, coming up Nov. 9-17. Even if you can’t, please do repost our Facebook post promoting the shows and help spread the word to your friends. Que viva los Judios de Argentina! Please join us in celebrating Argentinian Jewry!
PHOTO: Orquesta Victoria, courtesy of Villa Crespo Productions