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A Jewish Heritage Tour in Argentina for a More Meaningful Vacation

This Guest Post was in the news written by our CEO Iris Hami.

A Jewish Heritage Tour in Argentina for a More Meaningful Vacation

A Jewish Heritage Tour in Argentina is an amazing cultural experience and a unique travel adventure that builds bonds between Jewish communities in the diaspora!
The terrible pogrom of October 7th, with the mass slaughter of Jews and brutal hostage taking shocked and outraged us all. Perhaps even more shocking than the sadistic violence of a terrorist organization, with its rabble of opportunist looters and murderers, was the international reaction that followed.
As Israel mobilized for war, an unholy alliance of Hamas supporters, political extremists, hate-filled students and anti-Semites mobilized to spread hate. We were confronted by mass demonstrations of mobs brandishing Palestinian flags and chanting Islamist war cries. Streets, campuses and public places – as well as the online environment – suddenly stopped being safe places for Jews.

Despite a constant stream of horrific documentary evidence and credible testimony, a disturbing number of academics, feminists, politicians, NGOs and even official bodies cynically denied that atrocities had taken place – or even celebrated them. The South African government brought a blatantly false case to the International Court of Justice, accusing Israel of genocide. The court grudgingly rejected the allegation – actually a blood libel – in a victory for Israel.
The atmosphere is ugly, but it’s not all bad. Western governments’ are continuing to back Israel’s war effort and Israel’s Christian supporters are stepping up with practical help and generous donations. One really encouraging trend is that Jews around the world are pulling together, forging new links and coordinating the fight back against the anti-Semites and the bullies.

Social media is a great tool for making contacts to build Jewish solidarity right across the diaspora. It can also be used to bring instant mass focus and create an organized public defense against any injustice. In 2024, no Jew should ever be isolated or face hostility alone. Social media is fast and convenient, but nothing beats meeting people face to face and building solidarity through visits and meetings. The links are invariably stronger once there’s a personal connection.
Jewish heritage tours in Argentina are building rock solid connections between American and Argentinian Jews. They’re also giving US Jews an exciting and enjoyable insight into a unique Jewish culture. The warm, hospitable and vibrant Argentinian Jewish community is the sixth largest in the world and has a passion for sport, food, music – and all the good things in life – that makes a trip to Argentina a real pleasure!

A Quick Guide to Jewish Argentina

Argentina is a massive South American country that was colonized by Spain in the 1500s. It was the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition that brought Spanish and Portuguese Jews more than six thousand miles across the Atlantic. They made the dangerous and uncomfortable sea voyage in the hope of finding greater safety and tolerance in the New World. Over the centuries, they were followed by waves of European, Russian and Syrian Jews.

Each wave of Jewish immigration brought its own cultural attitudes and traditions. These blended over time to create a unique, mainly Spanish speaking South American Jewish culture. Mainstream Christian Argentina wasn’t always welcoming or accommodating to the Jewish communities, but there was enough overall tolerance that Argentinian Jews thrived.

Today, the Jewish population is mainly based in Buenos Aires (with smaller communities in Santa Fe, Cordoba and a few other locations. Depending on how you define Jewishness, the Jewish community is anywhere between 180,000 – 330,000 strong, with an additional contingent of at least 50,000 living in Israel.

The Jewish community is strong and self-confident and always happy to welcome tourists and visitors from Israel and the rest of the diaspora. Argentinian Jewry regularly sends youth groups on birthright trips to Israel and has been active and vocal in support of Israel since the October 7th massacres.

In 2024, Argentina firmly stands with Israel against the barbarism of Hamas and Hezbollah. Fortunately, Argentina woke up to the terrorist threat and began to take security a lot more seriously. Thirty years after the bombings, the country is a lot safer.

Planning a Jewish Heritage Tour in Argentina

Argentina is a big, beautiful and hugely varied country and there’s a lot to see, especially if you want to visit the national parks and nature reserves. If you’re mainly focused on exploring Argentina’s Jewish heritage and culture, it’s much easier (logistically) to plan a tour. Most of the history and modern culture is located in the capital Buenos Aires and a few other locations. You can step off the plane at Ezeiza (Ministro Pistarini) International Airport, grab a cab, and go straight to the heart of Jewish Buenos Aires.

If you’re visiting Argentina as part of an organized Jewish heritage tour, you can do things the easy way. There are some excellent kosher hotels and some of the best kosher restaurants that you’ll ever eat in. Gil Tours can plan a flexible Shabbat observant travel itinerary, as well as a choice of local synagogues for the observant.

One of the things that I love about Buenos Aires is that it’s a pretty safe and friendly city. As long as you use basic common sense, you can leave your hotel and explore on foot in the evenings. A short walk to the synagogue, or a leisurely Shabbat stroll can be a real pleasure.

3 Beautiful Buenos Aires Synagogues

Whether you’re religious, or completely secular, we definitely recommend a visit to these three important Buenos Aires synagogues.

The Grand Temple of Paso is an official heritage site near the famous Lavalle Street (a bustling area with tourist shops, synagogues and kosher food joints). The Grand Temple is a beautiful building and the congregation boasts its own tango orchestra – only in Argentina!
The Templo Libertad (Sinagoga de la Congregación) is an imposing Byzantine style synagogue that many Jews claim is the oldest temple in Buenos Aires. The architecture is splendid. Next to it is a small Jewish museum that gives some valuable insights into the old Jewish farming communities in Argentina.
● Yesod Hadath Synagogue was founded in the 1920s by members of the city’s Sephardic community. Many of the most active families in the community came from Aleppo and the synagogue continued the ancient Jewish Syrian traditions of worship.

The Kosher Food Scene in Buenos Aires

Argentinians have a real passion for life and that includes good food! When you join a Jewish heritage tour of Argentina, you’d better have a good appetite. Your local guides can recommend some of the world’s best kosher steakhouses, as well as a kosher McDonalds and kosher sushi. Argentina is famous for its free range beef, raised on the fertile Pampas grasslands (they even have their own cowboys called gauchos). Meat eaters will savor every moment of a parrilla or traditional Argentine BBQ.

The neighborhoods of Once (the old garment district) and Villa Crespo (the old Russian enclave) are the best places for kosher food. Every visitor to Argentina should try empanadas at least once. Empanadaría Kosher has a mouthwatering selection of empanadas and pizzas at about a third of the price that you’d pay for pizza in the US.

The Syrian, Moroccan and Israeli influences are evident in Jewish Argentine cuisine (eating out can be a real adventure in Buenos Aires). Gourmets can sample kosher shawarma, humus and lajmashin which are a type of Sephardi Jewish empanadas. Argentinian wine, especially the traditional Malbec red is ideal to drink alongside the meat dishes, while an ice cold Quilmes lager is perfect to offset the spicy Sephardi dishes and snacks. Don’t worry if you don’t eat meat, you’ll still be spoiled for choice.

Argentina is an amazing country. Wherever you go there is always something new and exciting to explore, whether its food and drink, Jewish history and architecture, Argentina’s huge national parks and nature reserves, upmarket shopping districts or beautiful and unspoiled beaches (one of the benefits of almost 5,000km of coastline). When you book a tailored Jewish Heritage Tour of Argentina, you can arrange to see as much of the non-Jewish aspects of Argentinian culture and its natural treasures as you want.

The most important and most lasting aspect of your trip to Argentina will be the chance to build links with Argentinian Jews and improve Jewish solidarity as a whole. 2024 is likely to be a tough year for Jews, although the fightback against anti-Semitism and support for terrorism is well underway. We’re all engaged in diplomacy now, whenever we’re active on social media or on vacation in a foreign country. A trip to Argentina isn’t just a wonderful vacation and a chance to explore a beautiful country, it’s an opportunity to strengthen Jewish ties worldwide.

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