Exploring Jewish Communities in Latin America

Hello from Argentina and Uruguay.

This week, I have been traveling with 30 incredible women from our local community as part of Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy mission to this beautiful and complex part of the world.

The itinerary has been packed but let me share a few quick highlights so far – and a few photos.

Did you know…

  • The Jewish communities in Argentina and Uruguay are home to nearly 200,000 Jews. It is the largest concentration of Jews in Latin America, and after the U.S. and Canada, the third largest in the Americas.
  • There are incredible wealth gaps in Argentina, with one-third of the Jewish community at risk living just above the poverty line.
  • In both countries, there has been less of an increase in overt antisemitism as compared to the U.S. and Europe since October 7th. Yet, these communities remain very vulnerable, particularly with growing concerns of attacks on Israel and Israelis from Hezbollah or Iran.
WP Mission

Argentina is beautiful but has had a turbulent political history with several significant economic crises including one right now.

  • We had dinner with U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, Marc Stanley — the first Jewish Ambassador to the country. He discussed the vibrancy of the Jewish community but also the many challenges, reminding us about the historic threats. Our discussion was punctuated by the bombings 30 years ago on the Israeli Embassy and AMIA (the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association), a local Jewish center.
  • One particularly impactful highlight was our visit to a Federation-funded program through our partnership with JDC — the Community Medicine Bank, which provides free basic medicine to vulnerable Jews and others throughout the region. It was impressive to see their reach, serving tens of thousands of people. Last year alone, they delivered $5M worth of medicine.

We traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay, the largest city in the country and where most of the Jewish community resides.

  • While small, the Jewish community remains strong and Zionist.
  • We visited the Sephardi synagogue built in the 1950s and their Holocaust Memorial along the water, which is quite moving, depicting both the fracturing of Jews caused by the Holocaust as well as the strength and continuity of the Jewish people.
  • We also met with the Israeli Ambassador to Uruguay, Michal Hershkovitz, who described a very close relationship between Israel, the Uruguayan government, and the citizens of the country. Given what is happening around the world these days, it was nice to hear.

It is fantastic to travel with this group of philanthropic leaders, including our Federation President, Robin Hettleman Weinberg, and Jill Granader, Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy Chair. I am glad these dedicated women let me crash their trip!

Have you ever traveled to either of these countries? If so, I would love to hear from you, especially if you have additional insights on the Jewish communities here.

One last item. I will be speaking at the rally at the Lincoln Memorial this Sunday, April 7th, calling for the immediate release of the hostages as the world marks six months of the hostages in captivity. I hope you will join me for this important gathering. Learn more about the event at hostagesforumdc.com.

Shabbat Shalom,

Gil Preuss
CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington