CULTURE AND HISTORY FROM AFAR WITH JHSEMINARS
Tuesday, August 3rd at 6 pm Israel time: JEWISH PURSUIT OF THE ARGENTINIAN DREAM: IMMIGRATION, THE RURAL COLONIES, THE JEWISH GAUCHOS AND MIGRATION TO THE URBAN AREAS, Claudia Hercman
The Argentinian Jewish community is the 6th largest in the world after Israel, the USA, France, Canada and the UK. In this presentation, we will learn about the waves of Jewish immigration to Argentina and how they assimilated to Argentinian society depending on their countries of origin. We will hear about the first Jewish immigrants who settled in rural areas, the Jewish colonies and the “Jewish Gauchos.” Most of Argentinian Jews now live in cities but we will learn when and why they migrated from the rural areas and how they developed their life and culture in the urban environment. We will see the first synagogue in Buenos Aires and the traditional Jewish district. We will also learn about antisemitism in Argentina, a pogrom that took place in Buenos Aires in 1919 and the Jewish Polish pimps who enslaved Jewish girls at the beginning of the 20th century.
Claudia was born and raised in Buenos Aires, into the Argentinian Jewish community. Twenty years ago, she became bored of translating books with a computer as her only company, so she decided to study tourism and history. She has been conducting city, art and Jewish tours ever since, and enjoying every single moment of it. And then, 2020 arrived, and with it the pandemic, which forced her to go back to spending time with her computer. So she decided to create these virtual Jewish tours as an excuse to be able to talk to people and meet new friends from all over the world, while helping them explore the history of the Jews in Argentina.
Tuesday, August 10th at 6 pm Israel time: THE JEWS OF COCHIN (SOUTHWESTERN INDIA): FROM OBSCURE BEGINNINGS TO MAJESTIC SYNAGOGUES, Prof. Shalom Sabar
The Jewish community of India, one of the oldest in the Diaspora, was basically divided in the past centuries into three distinct groups - Bene Israel, Cochinis, and Baghdadis - each with its own rich culture and special traditions. The earliest known is that of the Cochini Jews, who identify their location on the Malabar coast in South India (State of Kerala) with the mythical Biblical region of Ophir, known from the sailors in the time of King Solomon, and famous in ancient times for its fine gold and silver. While the earliest evidence regarding the arrival of Jews in India is conjectural, rare local Malabari documents as well as significant testimonies by Jewish authorities such as Maimonides and travelers such as Benjamin of Tutela, clearly indicate Jewish existence there – including official colonies and synagogues, land rights, exemption from taxes, religious freedom, and ceremonial privileges. In the modern period, the number of Malabari Jews was not large (total of about 2,500 Jews), who were divided into three ethnic sub-groups, reflecting the Indian caste system. Upon immigration to Israel, these groups left behind them magnificent synagogues, some located in the middle of striking natural forests. The oldest and most lavish is that of the Paradesi Jews (referred to as "White Jews") in Mattancherry (Kochi town), dedicated in 1568. The Cochini synagogues and their sacred furniture, some transplanted to Israel and the US, marvel the visitors at their extraordinary beauty and delicacy. Moreover, the unique interior space of these synagogues allowed the participation of women in the service in a way unknown from other communities, East or West.
Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years. Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world. His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him! Shalom was the Scholar-Residence on both our past tours to India which were amazing with the material Shalom lectured on.
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