Wandering Jew: Buenos Aires

Many Jewish historical places in the largest Jewish community in S. America also form part of city’s cultural heritage.

By TANYA POWELL-JONES
July 8, 2012 16:08
Libertad

Libertad Synagogue. (photo credit: George Wohlberg)

Buenos Aires’s Jewish history is plentiful. From Byzantine temples to tango orchestras, there’s much to do for both the community and visitors alike. Entry into some of the Jewish sites can be a little tricky at times due to the attacks on the Jewish community in the 1990s but it is not impossible. Eating kosher is a definite option with a range of steak and sushi bars throughout the city.

After the expulsion from Spain in the 15th century conversos (or secret Jews) began settling in Argentina. Over the years Jews have come from Eastern Europe, mainly Poland and Russia.

Today, the Jewish community in Argentina focuses mainly in the Once district (eleventh in Spanish).This is also probably the best place to start your Jewish trail – at the heart of the eleventh district - at the

Just off Paso Street is one of the district’s best-known streets, Lavalle. As a tourist hotspot it comes with tourist prices so here is possibly not the best place to bargain. However, Lavalle Street is a vibrant area with street entertainers, synagogues and many kosher shops.

If you take a walk down Lavalle Street after about twenty minutes you’ll come to Libertad Street on your left. Turning here you’ll see the rather grand
Templo Libertad. This Byzantine-style temple is the oldest synagogue in Buenos Aires and just next door there is the Jewish museum. The museum is a small place with pieces donated by Dr. Salvador Kibrick that exhibit the history of Jewish agricultural colonies in rural Argentina. The museum is generally open to the public as long as you have passport identification.

Libertad Synagogue (George Wohlberg)

The Once neighborhood is also home to the famous Abasto area, known worldwide because of Carols Gardel - the originator of the tango movement, who was born and raised there. George Soros, a Jewish Hungarian businessman, acquired the historic Abasto building on Av. Corrientes 3247 and opened a shopping mall in the late 1990s. As well as store outlets, it has a 12-screen cinema, a miniature theme park and the only kosher McDonald’s outside of Israel. To get there you can either walk down Av Corrientes or take the metro to the Carlos Gardel underground station, either way you’ll find it hard to miss the massive tower over Once.

Although it’s possible to get a kosher lunch inside the shopping mall there are a couple of other different options in the area such as the kosher steak house

To end your day you have the option of the popular kosher restaurant
Al Galope on Tucman 2637 or kosher Go Sushi on Av Pueyrredón 2501 for dinner. Argentinean meat is some of the most renowned in the world and Al Galope provide a selection of steaks and a variety of Middle Eastern dishes. Go Sushi has a charming outdoor spot to enjoy the evening and courses range from 100 pesos.  If over dinner you fancy brushing up on your Yiddish then you’re in luck because Buenos Aires has one of the world’s four remaining Yiddish daily newspapers (others are found in Paris, Tel Aviv and Birobidjan, Siberia). To get a copy ask at the AMIA who should have an up-to-date list of which outlets the paper is currently available from.

The Jewish Virtual Library contributed to this report.


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