The Jewish Presence in Latin America
Rutgers University
Spring 1999

History 508:391:04      John Dizgun
Tuesday/Thursday 7th period
Hickman 117 (Douglass)     Van Dyck 109 (CAC)

Course Description
 Through film, literature, photographs, biographies, music, and monographs, this course will introduce students to the rich history of Latin America’s diverse Jewish communities, namely Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and German-speaking immigrant groups.  Exploring questions of Jewish ethnicity and cultural identity, we will examine the experiences of first, second, third, and even fourth generation immigrants in late-19th and 20th-century Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Mexico, and Bolivia.  Imagining the ways in which immigrants struggled to achieve a living balance between their Old World habits and New World norms, we will focus on the changing political, social, economic, religious, and intellectual landscape of Latin America over the past 100 years.  Hopefully, any examination of the Jewish presence in Latin America will broaden not only our insight of Jewish experiences, but will also serve as a periscope to deepen our understanding of Latin American history.

Course Requirements
 1. Reaction papers (30%): Each week, students will write a 1-2 page reaction paper on some aspect of the assigned readings or films.  These papers will serve as the basis for weekly class discussions. All reaction papers are graded “pass/fail.”  Everyone who hands in a thoughtful paper on time will automatically receive a "pass."  You must submit all 14 reaction papers to receive the full 30%.
 2. One Seminar Paper (70%): Based largely on readings and class discussions, each student will write a paper on a topic of his/her choice.  You will receive a handout listing suggested topics and specific requirements.  At the end of the semester, each student will make a 15-20 minute informal presentation on his/her paper to the class.

Required Texts
?Course Reading Packet
?Jeffrey Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question (Berkeley:
 University of California Press, 1995).
?Ilan Stavans, ed., Tropical Synagogues: Short Stories by Latin American Jewish Writers
 (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1994).
?Jacobo Timerman, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number (New York:
 Alfred Knopf, 1981).

And one of the following:
?Leo Spitzer, Hotel Bolivia: The Culture of Memory in a Refuge from Nazism (New
 York: Hill and Wang, 1998).  or
? Marjorie, Agosin, A Cross and A Star: Memoirs of a Jewish Girl in Chile (Albuquerque:
 University of New Mexico Press, 1995).

PART 1: The First Jews in Latin America

Jan. 19: Introduction

Jan. 21: Conflicting Images: Latin American and Jewish?
 Saul Sosnowski, "Latin American-Jewish Writers: Protecting the Hyphen." (11pp.)
 Jeffrey Lesser, "Watching the Detectives: Four Views of Immigrant Life in Latin
 America." (13pp.)

Jan. 26: The Jewish Presence in Colonial Latin America
Judith Laikin Elkin, “Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese Dependencies.” (21 pp.).
 Martin Cohen, “Antonio Diaz de Caceres: Marrano Adventurer in Colonial Mexico."
 Anita Novinsky, “The Jewish Roots of Brazil.” (11pp.)

Jan. 28: Setting the Stage: The Nineteenth Century.
 Rita Gardiol, "A Brief Overview of Argentine History Relative to its Jewish
  Population." (13pp.)
 Haim Avni, "The Beginning, 1810-1876."  (15pp.)

Feb. 2: Negotiating Cultural Boundaries: Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and
     German-Speaking Jews
C.C. Aronsfeld, “Uncle Gustavo in Lima: A Nineteenth-Century
 German-Jewish Immigrant.”  (12pp.)
Bernard Ansel, “Discord among Western and Eastern European Jews in Latin
 America.”  (7pp.)
Victor Mirelman, “Sephardim in Latin America after Independence.”  (20pp.)

Part II: The Avalanche of Jewish Settlers: Argentina (1889-WW1)

Feb. 4: Moisesville: Part Jewish, Part Argentine.
Edna Aizenberg, "The Jewish Gauchos." (5pp.)
 Nina Barragan, “Moisesville, The Jerusalem of South America.”  (5pp.)
Film: “The Yiddishe Gauchos.”

Feb. 9: A Quest for Identity: the Gerchunoff Paradox.
 Ilan Stavans, "Introduction," Tropical Synagogues (7pp)
Alberto Gerchunoff, "Camacho's Wedding Feast." (9pp.)
 Edna Aizenberg, "Parricide on the Pampas: Deconstructing Gerchunoff and his Jewish
  Gauchos." (8pp.)

Feb. 11: Urban Life: The Latin-American “Shtetl.”
 Judith L. Elkin, "The Jewish Street." (31pp.)

Feb. 16: The White Slave Trade and the Jewish Connection: Pimps, Panders, and
Donna Guy, Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires, Chapter 1  (12pp.)
 Nora Glickman, “Jewish White Slave Trade in Latin American Writings." (11pp.)

Feb. 18: Reclaiming La Patria: A Jewish Backlash?
Sandra Mcgee Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews, 1919-1933.” (21pp.)
Victor Mirelman, "Jew and Gentile in Argentina." (22pp.)

Part III: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, & Guatemala: Revolving Doors

Feb. 23: The Politics of Silence
Leonardo Senkman, “Argentina’s Immigration Policy during the Holocaust." (33pp.)

Feb. 25: Brazil: “Welcoming the Undesirables.”
 *Jeffrey Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables (Selections)

March 2: Cuba: American suburb?
 Film: "Hotel Cuba"

March 4: Guatemala: The Holy Land?
 Victor Perera, excerpt from The Cross and The Pear Tree: A Sephardic Journey (20pp.)

March 9: Mexico: Nationalism and Anti-Semitism
Laura Perez Rosales “Anticardenismo and Anti-Semitism in Mexico, 1934-1940” (15pp.)
Adina Cimet de Singer, “The Case of Ashkenazi Jews in Mexico, 1940-1950:
 Nationalism and the Question of Language” (18pp.)

March 11: Mexico
 Film: "A Kiss to This Land" (Un Beso a Esta Tierra).

?SPRING BREAK: MARCH 15-19 (phew!)

?March 23 & 25: No Class

Part IV: The Holocaust and its Aftermath

March 30: The Culture of Memory
 *Leo Spitzer, Hotel Bolivia or
 Marjorie, Agosin, A Cross and A Star: Memoirs of a Jewish Girl in Chile.

April 1: Refashioning Jewish Tradition: Post-War Youth
   Leon Klenicki, “Argentinian and Jew: The Ambiguity of Identity.” (4pp.)
 Victor Perera, “Kindergarten.”  (5pp.)
Mario Szichman, “Remembrances of Things Future.” (12pp)
 David Unger, “Canillas de Leche.”  (9pp.)
 Gerardo Mario Goloboff, “The Passion According to San Martin.”  (6pp.)

April 6: An Existential and Mystical Journey: Jewish Women
Clarice Lispector, “Love.”  (8pp.)
 Esther Seligson, “The Invisible Hour.”  (6pp.)
 Angelina Muniz-Huberman, “In the Name of His Name.”  (4pp.)

April 8: Argentina’s “Dirty War” (1976-1983)
 *Jacobo Timerman, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number.

April 13: Israel’s Shadow on Jews in Latin America
 Sidney Greenfield, “The Beirut Massacre and Jewish Identity in Brazil: A View from
  Porto Alegre.” (14pp.)

April 15: Jewish Life: Latin America vs USA
 Judith L. Elkin, “Jews North and South.”  (14pp.)

April 20- May 4: Paper Presentations

Papers due: May 11, 1999