Many of the sites described on this page are the biggest highlights of Jewish Buenos Aires, and are also a part of a standard Jewish Tour.
Once is the neighborhood in Buenos Aires which can be compared with the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This is where Jewish immigrants who stayed in Buenos Aires settled, and while most non-Orthodox Jews have since moved up and out, this neighborhood is home to the AMIA, several syngagogues, and the majority of kosher dining options. While not a particularly picturesque neighborhood, it is certainly a historic one for the local Jewish community. Still today, many mezuzot (ritual door adornment) can be found on shop-doors in this area, and the feeling of the area is reminiscent of a bustling immigrant community of yesteryear. The shops are primarily wholesale: fabric, buttons, paper-goods, and cheap-quality clothing.
The foundation of the AMIA (Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina), dates back to 1894. Of its first missions was to found a cemetery for the Jewish community. In the 1920s, with the tremendous influx of Jewish immigration into the country, and increasing prosperity of the Jewish community, AMIA responded to the needs of the community by providing space cultural and social activity. Tragically, this building was bombed in 1994 (85 dead), and has since been rebuilt in the same location, but with advanced security measures. A beautiful statue by renown Israeli artist, Agam, stands in the courtyard as a memorial. The AMIA continues to serve as a center for a multitude of cultural and community events, hosts a library, and is both the hub of Jewish organizational life and the site of important Jewish community gatherings.
Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano Marshall Meyer
The Seminary was founded in 1962 by US Rabbi Marshall T Meyer, a leader whose memory is revered for both his political and spiritual leadership during Argentina's Dirty War in the 1970s and early 1980s. At great risk to his own personal security, he took on the responsibility to personally enter and rescued Jewish prisoners from torture cells.
As a spiritual leader, Rabbi Meyer brought Conservative Judaism to a country which had little to no alternative to either secular or Orthodox lifestyle. Today, students from all over Latin America come to study at the seminary he founded, for rabbinic and cantorial training within the Conservative movement.
As there are more Argentine graduates than there are positions for them in Argentina, many newly ordained rabbis move abroad to pursue job opportunities. Argentine rabbis currently serve in countries all over Latin America, in addition to North America.
The Seminario features, in addition to its education programs, a Judaica library, considered to be the best Jewish collection in Latin America, a gift shop featuring Judaica by local artists, a mikveh (ritual bath), and educational programming for non-students.
Former Israeli Embassy
There is a memorial in Recoleta which marks the site of the former Israeli Embassy which was bombed in 1992. 23 trees represent the 23 lives which were taken in this terrorist attack. Materials were brought in from Israel to create the memorial. A dedication in Spanish is written on the wall where the building structure used to stand.
There are many synagogues in Buenos Aires, both Conservative/Reform and Orthodox. Conservative affiliates will find that the services feel more Reform than Conservative, even though they are billed as the latter. This is generally due to use of microphone, choir and musical instruments. Dress is informal for services, and the well attended Shabbat service is Friday Night (vs. Saturday morning). Dress is informal, and dresses for women or tie for men are more formal than how locals will use.
Please note: It is very difficult, on account of security concerns, to view Jewish sites of interest without a guide. Please contact us if you are interested in our arranging an exploration of local Jewish community life.
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