chapter  1
8 Pages

Jewish Studies as a Subject of Latin American Studies

WithGilbert W. Merkx

The consideration of Latin America’s Jewish communities as a subject of intellectual significance began with the 1972 Experts Conference on Latin America and the Future of Its Jewish Communities, held in New York under the auspices of the Institute of Jewish Affairs. The contrast with the broad influence and popular acceptance of Jewish literature in the United States is noteworthy. In economic terms, the Jewish experience in Latin America has been more successful, compared with that of native populations. The individual and collective social mobility of Jews has been high, leading to impressive proportions of professionals and entrepreneurs in the Jewish community. The Jewish experience in Latin America is particularly interesting when compared with Jewish experiences in the United States and Israel, cases with differing relationships between Jewish identity and national identity. Political instability is nevertheless an insufficient explanation for the lack of Jewish political activity in Latin America.