Highlighting the diversity of immigration to Argentina, Shalom Buenos Aires is a program designed to showcase the Jewish immigration to Argentina’s capital city. Shalom Buenos Aires is a tour experience designed around the Jewish history of the city, offering visitors the opportunity to visit synagogues, schools, cemeteries, neighborhoods and other institutions where Jewish immigrants have left their mark.
Buenos Aires has the third largest Jewish immigrant population in the world outside of Israel, and in every borough, the vestige of their influence is to be found. Immigrants from Russia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Syria, to name a few, represent a valuable testimony to the city's cultural and religious diversity. The main boroughs are Once, Villa Crespo, Flores and Belgrano.
We offer you many different options so you can design a private, custom-tailored tour based on your interests. To assist you in designing your tour, we provide you a summary of the Jewish experience in Argentina.
Please contact your travel consultant for daily itineraries and quotes.
Starting at USD $140* per person – minimum 2 pax; additional fees apply to solo travelers
We are pleased to offer you a different way of visiting Buenos Aires. The Jewish Buenos Aires City Tour, visiting the most important icons of the city. We will introduce you to the places related to the origins of this large Jewish Community, following the demographic growth and the most important Synagogues. Visit the SHOA Museum, and finish the tour rendering honors to the victims of attacks perpetrated against the Embassy of Israel and AMIA in the early 90’s.
Starting at USD $240* per person – minimum 2 pax; additional fees apply to solo travelers
In the morning we conduct the above itinerary, then a kosher lunch in Once. In the afternoon, we visit the boroughs of Villa Crespo and Belgrano. Today’s closure is at Raoul Wallemberg Monument, located in the most beautiful park in the city.
Please call us for a free estimate! Ask your representative for the Package Saver, a comprehensive 5-night package including 1st Class hotel accommodations in Buenos Aires, private transfers, sightseeings, full-day Shalom Buenos Aires, tango show and selected meals starting at USD $599 per person. Contact your Travel Consultant at toll free (800) 240-9189 for a free consultation.
* Prices include all tour features and are subject to change before tour confirmation due to seasonal variations
There are several words that spontaneously arise when describing the district of Villa Crespo; the conventillos (tenement houses), tango and the ethnic neighborhoods, especially those of the Jewish community that settled here in the early 1900’s.
The conventillos were big old houses, poorly designed, with little or no sanitary condition, and several rooms and one bathroom. There was one in particular that inspired writers and artists, called National Conventillo; it had 112 rooms. Many immigrants lived there, the majority of whom were Spanish, Italian and Jewish, all together sharing the excitement of life in Buenos Aires.
They were factory workers, porters, tailors, carpenters, weavers and hucksters.
The Jews developed a great community, and within them, they divided according to the different places from where they came. Thus, a part of the district is called Villa Kreplaj, after the refugees who escaped and came after World War I from Russia, the Ukraine and Poland.
As opposed to the more orthodox Jews that settled in Once, these European Jews came to Villa Crespo carrying ideas from the old country of socialism and anarchy, secularism and union doctrines; however, they quickly associated with the Argentinean native porteños and began developing their own identity.
Despite their secular passions, many Jews built synagogues and temples. They all witnessed heated discussions about the political situation of the day. Community schools were founded later (Scholem Aleichem School, Bialik School) that identified themselves with secular Yiddish and Hebrew streams, both far away from religious practice. There were also youth movements linked with Hashomer Hatzair and Habonim Dror who participated in the temple (nowadays Murillo’s synagogue), the Ajiezer synagogue (at present Iona) and the Sephardic temple of Camargo Street; all examples of activity that never stopped.
Later on, the immigrant’s sons became professionals, business men or owners of stores and factories, and they changed their tenement houses for more comfortable apartments, sharing the natural growth of the neighborhood. Today, as you walk through the neighborhood, you can still see some tenement houses, with doors having lawyers or accountants placards, and stores with Hebrew names translated to Spanish.
Villa Crespo has an active cultural life mostly due to the contribution of the Sephardic Jews that traditionally dwelled in this area. The neighborhood still maintains part of the original stone pavement street, leafy trees and different food and convenient stores. You will also find the majestic Camargo’s Shul synagogue, difficult to be missed due to its size and ornamentation.
There is a huge variety of Jewish services and goods available in the area, anything from tickets to Israel, to Hebrew lessons, newsstands where you could find Jewish city papers, bookstores to buy religious books, philosophy or comic books or records stores offering Jewish music recorded by Argentinean, American or Russian singers, and by some modern Israeli artists.
Enjoy the food in Villa Crespo. Several food stores sell borsht pletzalech (onion bread) and chocolate and friesl; all stores display their corresponding kosher certification issued by the local and Israeli rabbis. Pastry shops sell leikach (Honey cakes) and matzah during the whole year, and some of them combine food with other goods such as traditional clothing and candles, menorots and kippots. Some food stores with typical names serve every day chicken with farfalach (rice), borsht and other dishes from central Europe.
Perhaps the best examples of the movement that inherited Villa Crespo are the cafés and bars located at the Corrientes Ave, old meeting places of political, religious and communal discussion, and still are today. People would talk about the vicissitudes of the Russian revolution, the validity of Yiddish, the creation of unions and cooperatives or how to get rich, while constantly moving their dominos or chess pieces. They drank tea with lemon, coffee with a splash of milk in a glass or grappa while they wait for the midday varnishkas. In this way, they managed to escape from their Warsaw memories. San Bernardo served as the Ashkenazi Jew’s venue par excellence, and it is still possible to see at its tables those immigrants who rebuilt their lives in Argentina, a country which generously welcomed them more than half a century ago. Although the neighborhood has deteriorated with respect to previous years, today it is still a place were nostalgia `returns, and also where pool is played and football matches are shared (thanks to TV screens) each Sunday afternoon.
Enjoy a walking tour to discover the real Jewish presence, along Serrano Street, between Warnes, Corrientes and Muñecas Streets. Visit synagogues, tapestry shops, kosher delis and feel the presence of the political issue of the day at San Bernardo Bar. Discover the essence! Villa Crespo was and will continue to be, as the Argentinean Jewish poet Cesar Tiempo once defined it, a “beautiful blend of ghetto dreamers and courageous men of the early 1900’s.”
All those who have the luck to live in this district feel a special attraction and fondness towards its people, boulevards and traditional houses. From its inception, Flores has always been a very traditional borough (now only twenty minutes by metro from downtown), but today there exists a very different atmosphere, evidenced in its local streets, personages, social clubs and newspapers, that have all been established to create a true community and identity.
It is a mixed borough with big old houses that still represent the old, glorious economical time that Flores faced 150 years ago, when it was at the “outskirts of Buenos Aires” and rich people would build their summer residences there. Two-story houses with facades of different styles, such as art deco, art nouveau and academicism, coexist with typical neocolonial architecture. It is a full district of sun and lights, with people that live life to the fullest.
The Jewish presence was noticeable since the beginning of the 1900’s. According to the oldest records, the first tenement was built by David Rosembaum, who built a house for the very poor. There were two institutions built then that strengthened the development of the Jewish community in Flores; the Hospital Israelita (Israeli Hospital founded in 1911) and a cemetery to bury Jewish immigrants.
Assisting the sick and poor is one of the oldest and most respected values of Jewish historical and religious traditions. Rabbi Henry Joseph founded in 1900 the Ezra Philanthropist Association together with 65 members, who initiated the original ideas and execution of the above institutions.
Soon after this, the new institution started bringing life to the community, such as Agudat Dodim (Asociacion Comunidad Israelita de Flores) founded in 1913 by a group of Sephardic Jews from Damascus, Syria whose goals were to keep their religious values and traditions brought from the old continent, and transmit those values to future generations.
Sharei Tzion (Gates of Zion) was established in 1924 and was of extreme importance for the Syrian immigrants from Aleppo, who were attracted to Flores for economic and political reasons. They came because of the political changes that they were facing back in Syria, such as obligatory military service and the lack of economic improvement.
When they arrived in Flores, they had nothing. In order to survive, some of them began selling goods in the street from pushcarts and later became shop owners, textile importers and wholesalers. Part of their success was due to their gathering together in the core of Kehilot (i.e. communities of families adhering to common precepts and traditions). Sephardic institutions' major purpose has always been providing religious worship and Tzedakah (charity and social help), which has kept their institutions actively working to this day.
As time went by, the organizations founded by Jews from Aleppo and Damascus came together, and new generations now live within common religious and social-sport communities such as the Hebrew-Argentine Social Circle.
Nowadays, you’ll see a magical combination of people going to Flores to buy textile products, walking on the street carrying shopping bags, or a bag with kosher food for lunch. The streets are normally very crowded and noisy with lots of cars and bus lines on Avellaneda Street. You shall see hundreds of clothing shops, some retail and some wholesale, but most of them with a “Today, great sale” sign or the owner speaking directly to the crowd trying to capture their attention, or perhaps people just wandering, lost in the scene.
On Helguera Street you could see a more orthodox community living in low houses on a tree-lined street. You'll see Jews on their way to the synagogue Bajurim Tiferet Israel which was founded by orthodox Jews wearing black kippot, white shirts and carrying liturgical books.
We invite you get a closer approach and take a walk on Helguera and Avellaneda Streets. If you take a walk here in the morning, you will encounter some ancient Jewish traditions and intense activity. All the groups converge in this simple and picturesque atmosphere.
Once is the popular name of the borough of Balvanera. There is no official “Once” borough but people here since the beginning of the community used this term because of the train station once de Septiembre, which brought development to the community.
Balvanera district has lately been undergoing constant, non-uniform change and it is difficult to define it in a few words. It is an combination of several characteristics and of completely different sectors. However, it is very dynamic, with a high density of inhabitants, and many pedestrians and vehicles. It is considered essentially a Jewish district where the Hebrew community has developed all of its commercial activity since the beginning of twentieth century.
It is a district of commerce, textile shops, trading and small businesses; it is the heart of the city's transportation, with Plaza Miserere (Miserere Square) being the start or end of many people’s routes. It is a district of wholesalers with many opportunities for gigs; the crowd doubles during rush hours, and many street markets (or booths) pop up, making it very different from the rest of the districts. It seems like a Persian market, or for some, a typical Latin American city. There is, however, much enchantment, and it is an amusing experience to get to know it, knowing that right afterwards you will need a break to rest from the crowd and the movement!
The first Jewish settlers establish Once in 1905, many of them Russian Jews escaping from the devastating war with Japan, and others from Morocco, Syria and Lebanon escaping poverty and prosecutions. In the next decade, the first textile shops were established, managed by a group of deeply religious Jewish immigrants with an economic status slightly higher that their neighbors in Villa Crespo. It was then, that many organizations and institutions were developed with different causes and goals: Orthodox schools, traditional or seculars newspaper edited in Yiddish or Spanish, and Lithuanian, Damascus, or Aleppo synagogues, most of them still up and running nowadays.
El Gran Templo del Paso synagogue was started by Russian and Polish leaders who in 1894 had established the Talmud Tora Harishoino, the first institute that taught Judaism in Argentina following the Cheder style of Eastern Europe. The temple was finally built and inaugurated in 1927. In the same decade, Once witnessed the emergence of many new institutions including the Lithuanian Temple, the comedores populares (community kitchens), the Sociedad Hebraica Argentina (Argentine-Hebrew Society), Sociedad de actors Israelitas (Israeli society of actors), the Asociacion Mutal Israelita-Argentina (AMIA), the school Eijal Ha Tora, newspapers such as Idishe Zeitung and Mundo Israelita, and many, many more institutions.
There are some delis primarily opened around the shopping hours of the textile shops. There are some pizzerias, delis and butchers with kosher food. A good walking tour would be along San Luis Street, with many stores and many old houses mixed with new buildings, all with mezuzahs on the doors.
The famous Abasto area, also part of Once, is known worldwide, due to the originator of the tango movement, singer Carlos Gardel, who was born and raised here. The old Abasto building was refurbished in the late 1990’s and acquired by George Soros, the famous Jewish Hungarian businessman, who opened a shopping mall, primarily marketing to the local Jewish community with lots of kosher restaurants and the first McDonald’s in Argentina to ever offer kosher products.
It is very common that you see entire families in their traditional costumes walking on Paso and Lavalle Streets. The temples Sucat David and Sharei Tefila are here and there are many stores with Hebrew signs with the initials BH (With G-d’s help).
The one common architectural pattern is that in front of every institution, whether it is a social or cultural place, a school or temple, the front façade of the building contains iron posts to prevent vehicular transit from stopping. By national decree, Jewish institutions could forbid parking in front of any of their buildings. This policy was established after the bombing in Once of the AMIA institution on a sad Monday morning in 1994.
The AMIA building has since been rebuilt and visitors are welcome with prior notice. There are several exhibits that pay tribute to all the victims who lost their lives during the attach. On Pasteur Street, there are 5 consecutive blocks of planted trees and there is also a monument on Pasteur Street between Tucuman and Viamonte, made by the famous Israeli artist Yaacov Agam to honor the memory of the victims.
The institution AMIA, or Jewish Kehila, had its origin back in 1894 when a group of Jewish people under the name Chevra Kedusha, started a much needed institution, the Buenos Aires Burial Society, to bury Jews under the burial rituals of Ashkenazi Mosaic Law. In 1910, they acquired a lot in Liniers borough and expanded it into a cemetery. Soon, with the growth determined by the arrival of so many immigrants, the scope of AMIA was expanded to help those in need. AMIA now provides welfare services, and promotes education with grants and scholarships, and also assists in creating new educational institutes. It was visited by Israeli leaders David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir and Zalman Shazar during the 1950’s, all congratulating the success of AMIA's accomplishments. By 1965, AMIA created the cultural department which since then has worked diligently to expand and promote Jewish Culture. In 1970, they develop a division to assist Jewish people in finding employment. AMIA's welfare programs help over 1500 families monthly including assistance to seniors with retirement programs and Medicaid.
Currently, the AMIA is the social engine of the Jewish community in Argentina and has become part of every Jewish family in one way or another.