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Jewish Life in Buenos Aires: Paris of the South

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


Buenos Aires is one of Latin America’s most important ports and most populous cities, as well as the national center of commerce, industry, politics, culture, and technology. According to tradition, Spanish colonizer Pedro de Mendoza established the first settlement there, which he named Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Aire (“Our Lady St. Mary of the Good Air”). Buenos Aires locals are referred to as porteños (“people of the port”) because so many of the city’s inhabitants historically arrived by boat from Europe. The history of the Jews in Argentina goes back to the early sixteenth century, following the Jewish expulsion from Spain. Sephardi Jews fleeing persecution immigrated with explorers and colonists to settle in what is now Argentina. In addition, many of the Portuguese traders in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata were Jewish. An organized Jewish community, however, did not develop until after Argentina gained independence from Spain in 1816. By mid-century, Jews from France and other parts of Western Europe, fleeing the social and economic disruptions of revolutions, began to settle in Argentina. Reflecting the composition of the later immigration waves, the current Jewish population is 80% Ashkenazi; while Sephardi and Mizrahi are a minority. Argentina has the largest Jewish population of any country in Latin America and the third-largest in the Americas (after that of the United States and Canada), although numerous Jews left during the 1970s and 1980s to escape the repression of the military junta, emigrating to Israel, West Europe (especially Spain), and North America. Today, approximately 180,500 Jews live in Argentina, down from 310,000 in the early 1960s. Most of Argentina’s Jews live in Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario.  Join us on Sunday February 22, 2022 for a conversation between Rabbi Elie Spitz and Rabbi Ale Avruj about the joys and challenges of living a Jewish life in the “Paris of the South”.

Rabbi Alejandro Avruj is currently Rabbi of the Amijai Community, one of the largest Jewish congregations in Buenos Aires. He graduated from the Latin American Rabbinic Seminary in 2002 and earned a Masters Degree in Rabbinic Literature and Jewish Education at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. Rabbi Avruj is the author of Sidur “Et Bazman – A Time within Time” in 2012, whose first edition was presented by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis). In 2014, Rabbi Avruj was honored by B´nai Brith Argentina, together with the Catholic priest, Jose Maria “Pepe” di Paola, with a Human Rights Award for his social work in shanty towns. Rabbi Avruj and Father “Pepe” together manage the Shalom charity project, which brings daily meals to hungry children in Buenos Aires. On Rabbi Avruj’s relationship with Pop Francis: “I met Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, at a shantytown in Buenos Aires. Bergoglio was the boss of my teammate Pepe and he came with us to bring food and recreational activities to the kids”. The future pope participated in a 2012 Kristallnacht commemoration ceremony with Rabbi Avruj, who later invited him to help light the Hannukah candles at the synagogue where he served. Rabbi Avruj attended Pope Francis’ papal inauguration at the Vatican.

Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz approaches the familiar in unfamiliar ways. A spiritual leader and scholar specializing in topics of spirituality and Judaism, he teaches, writes and speaks to a wide range of audiences. He served as the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin, California, for over three decades and served as member of the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Law and Standards for twenty years. Rabbi Spitz is author of Healing from Despair: Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World; Does the Soul Survive? A Jewish Journey to Belief in Afterlife, Past Lives & Living with Purpose and Increasing Wholeness: Jewish Wisdom and Guided Meditations to Strengthen and Calm Body, Heart, Mind and Spirit (all Jewish Lights) and many articles dealing with spirituality and Jewish law. Rabbi Spitz spent the past 17 months teaching the Psalms with half-hour presentations for each Psalm (recently completing all 150 Psalms!).  To enjoy all or some of the 150 Psalm sessions, visit this LINK.

There is no fee, but please RSVP for planning purposes. This event is held virtually on Zoom. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event. For more information, contact Program Director Ilene Tatro at itatro@cbisd.org.

CSP Partners: Beth Israel (San Diego, CA), Brotherhood Synagogue (Gramercy Park, NYC), Congregation Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Jewish Collaborative of Orange County, CA, Shomrei Torah Synagogue (San Fernando Valley, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth El of South Orange County (Aliso Viejo, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Tikvah (Fullerton, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Temple Beth Sholom (Santa Ana, CA), Temple Emanuel (Newton, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY), University Synagogue (Irvine, CA), Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA) & Walnut Street Synagogue (Chelsea, MA)


Tuesday, February 22, 2022
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Categories:


San Diego, CA United States


Adult Education