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Gente como Uno: Class, Belonging, and Transnationalism in Jewish Life in Lima
 9781644697436

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Gente Como Uno Class, Belonging, and Transnationalism in Jewish Life in Lima

Jewish Latin American Studies Series Editor Darrell B. Lockhart (University of Nevada, Reno)

Gente Como Uno Class, Belonging, and Transnationalism in Jewish Life in Lima

Romina Yalonetzky

BOSTON 2021

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Yalonetzky, Romina, 1980- author. Title: Gente como uno : class, belonging, and transnationalism in Jewish life in Lima / Romina Yalonetzky. Other titles: Class, belonging, and transnationalism in Jewish life in Lima Description: Boston : Academic Studies Press, 2021. | Series: Jewish latin american studies Identifiers: LCCN 2021039139 (print) | LCCN 2021039140 (ebook) | ISBN 9781644697429 (hardback) | ISBN 9781644697436 (adobe pdf) | ISBN 9781644697443 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Jews—Peru—Lima—History—20th century. | Jews—Peru—Lima—History—21st century. | Immigrants—Peru—Lima—History—20th century. | Immigrants—Peru—Lima—History—21st century. | Jews—Peru—Lima—Identity. | National characteristics, Peruvian. | Lima (Peru)—Social life and Custorms—20th century. | Lima (Peru)—Social life and Custorms—21st century. | San Isidro (Lima, Peru)—History—20th century. | San Isidro (Lima, Peru)—History—21st century. Classification: LCC F3601.9.J5 Y35 2021 (print) | LCC F3601.9.J5 (ebook) | DDC 985/.255004924—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021039139 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021039140 Copyright © 2021 Academic Studies Press All rights reserved. ISBN 9781644697429 (hardback) ISBN 9781644697436 (adobe pdf) ISBN 9781644697443 (epub)

Cover design by Ivan Grave Book design by Tatiana Vernikov

Published by Academic Studies Press 1577 Beacon Street Brookline, MA, 02446, USA [email protected] www.academicstdiespress.com

Para Hilá

Contents

Acknowledgements

9

Introduction

11

1. The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness

31

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

46

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency, and the Jewish Day School

70

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

89

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

116

6. Final Remarks

134

Bibliography

167

Index

173

List of Tables 1. Jewish Religious Diversity in Lima

50

2. Changes in Attitudes Towards Family Formation among Jews and Non-Jews in Lima According to Gender

140

3. Chronology of Landmarks for the Analysis of Jewish Limeño Organized Life, 1944-2014

144

4. Interviewees from Cohort 1 (over 75 years old)

164

5. Interviewees from Cohort 2 (51-74 years old)

165

6. Interviewees from Cohort 3 (40-50 years old)

166

List of Images 1. Calle Judíos (Judíos Street), next to Lima’s cathedral, ca. 1910

10

2. Altered Street Sign on the Forth Block of Maimónides Street, San Isidro

15

3. Rivalrous New and Old Street Signs in San Isidro

15

4. Old Street Sign with New Addition

16

5. Commemorative street sign in Lima’s main square

30

6. Efrain Goldenberg (right) stands next to president Alberto Fujimori and first lady Susana Higuchi

133

7. David Waisman (right) and president Alejandro Toledo

133

8. Salomon Lerner (right) and president Ollanta Humala

133

List of Tables 1. Jewish Religious Diversity in Lima

50

2. Changes in Attitudes Towards Family Formation among Jews and Non-Jews in Lima According to Gender

140

3. Chronology of Landmarks for the Analysis of Jewish Limeño Organized Life, 1944-2014

144

4. Interviewees from Cohort 1 (over 75 years old)

164

5. Interviewees from Cohort 2 (51-74 years old)

165

6. Interviewees from Cohort 3 (40-50 years old)

166

List of Images 1. Calle Judíos (Judíos Street), next to Lima’s cathedral, ca. 1910

10

2. Altered Street Sign on the Forth Block of Maimónides Street, San Isidro

15

3. Rivalrous New and Old Street Signs in San Isidro

15

4. Old Street Sign with New Addition

16

5. Commemorative street sign in Lima’s main square

30

6. Efrain Goldenberg (right) stands next to president Alberto Fujimori and first lady Susana Higuchi

133

7. David Waisman (right) and president Alejandro Toledo

133

8. Salomon Lerner (right) and president Ollanta Humala

133

Acknowledgments

The research behind Gente como Uno: Class, Belonging, and Transnationalism in Jewish Life in Lima was made possible by a grant from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. I would like to thank the following relatives, friends, and scholars for their kind support throughout the writing process: Catalina Wainerman, Felipe Portocarrero, Narda Henriquez, Veronique Lecaros, Liuba Kogan, Leon Trahtemberg, Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein, Rabbi Abraham Benhamu, Judith Schneider, and Celia Bazan. I am especially grateful to those who agreed to being interviewed. I would also like to thank my doctoral advisor Catalina Romero and my colleagues at PUCP’s Seminario Interdisciplinario de Estudios de Religión (Interdisciplinary Seminar on Religious Studies). I am extremely grateful to Jeffrey Lesser, who was kind enough to share his academic brilliance with me while I was working on my doctorate. The experience of my immigrant parents, Daniel Yalonetzky (z”l) and Luisa Mankevich, has also motivated this research, and I am grateful for their love and encouragement. My brother’s advice has been invaluable all along. Finally, I could not have written Gente como Uno, or accomplished anything at all, without the constant support of my family. My husband, Ari, deserves my eternal love and gratitude. He has believed in me as no one else has. He has been there for me through it all. He has rejoiced with me and has stood by me every time I suffered a setback. Sharing my life with him and our beautiful Hila makes me happy.

Fig. 1. Calle de los judíos (Judíos Street), next to Lima’s cathedral, ca. 1910. Photo credit: Carlos Ausejo, Repositorio PUCP.

Introduction

The Geography of Jewish Lima There is little indication of Jewishness in Lima, the capital city of Perú. Yet, there are some rare and hidden traces of what could be recognized as Jewish Limeño elements in the city. Back in colonial times, for instance, there was a block—a stretch of one hundred meters (330 feet)—on a road, which was named Calle de los judíos (Jews), just by the cathedral in the Historic Center of Lima. Having been the seat of the viceroyalty of Peru, which was considered for a while to be one of the most important dominions of the Spanish Empire due to its vast mineral resources,1 Lima had the questionable honor of having its own branch of the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition. The block received its peculiar name because of a painting featuring Jews that was hung nearby. It is also said to have been the place on which the names of those accused of heresy (judaizantes) by the tribunal were written.2 By the mid-nineteenth century, though, the colonial setting was replaced by a more modern, urban setting made of streets in which many continuing blocks shared the same name. Thus, Judíos became Jirón Huallaga, a more suitable name given the town’s initiative to name each street after other provinces in the territory. A few centuries later, by the 1990s, a new Jewish-themed street came about. This time around, the Jewish landmark would represent a position of power, as a couple of men who were involved in the Jewish community

1

See New World Encyclopedia, s.v. “Peru,” accessed May 2, 2020, https://www. newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Peru#Credits. See also Santiago Belausteguigoitia, “Eso vale un Perú y un Potosí,” El País, July 3rd, 1999, https://elpais.com/ diario/1999/07/04/andalucia/931040545_850215.html.

2

Juan Bromley, Las viejas calles de Lima (Lima: Municipalidad Metropolitana de Lima, 2019, 281-282.

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leadership found a way to rename a street in the well-off neighborhood of San Isidro.

Fruit Trees and Military Men Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon is one of the most famous rabbis and Jewish thinkers. As such, it is safe to say that he is definitely not a well-known figure among Peruvians. Why would he be? Judaism and Jews were not particularly visible or recognizable to most Peruvians until at least the early 1990s. Perhaps the lack of visibility can be explained by the fact that intolerance to Judaism and other non-Catholic forms of religiosity were common at the time of the Conquest of Peru; or perhaps it was because Peru was a distant territory and unattractive to Jewish immigrants. Why, then, is there a street in the upper-class San Isidro district named after a North African, Jewish medieval thinker? San Isidro is a very wealthy neighborhood in metropolitan Lima. Its development began in the 1920s, and the way the land was developed and eventually used shows how San Isidro was meant for the rich from the very get-go. Indeed, by 1925 there was a country club and a polo field. No other district in Lima has can boast of such things. Even though the Jewish school, León Pinelo, was established in 1946 in the working-class neighborhood of Breña, the changing social composition of its pupils parallels the social trajectory of most Limeño Jews who, within a generation, moved out of the working—(Ashkenazi) and middleclass (Sephardi and Yekke) and into the upper-middle class. The first Jewish building to be built by the community—as opposed to buildings that were rented or purchased and then refurbished for Jewish-related use—was the Jewish school. The new building was strategically located in San Isidro in 1952 as a means to collective upward social and economic mobility, even though most Jews would not be economically able to move to the neighborhood for years to come. Yet San Isidro embodied the highest aspirations of a very small community made up of immigrants and their descendants. Moving to San Isidro and its bordering neighborhoods signified economic and social ascent. The school was named after León Pinelo, a converso who served as the rector (chancellor) of Universidad de San Marcos in the seventeenth century. The name was suggested to the first Jewish law students in Lima

Introduction

by their university professors, themselves Catholics. For the professors, Diego de León Pinelo, the descendant of a Portuguese Jew,3 represented an anomaly: an allegedly non-Christian who became the most powerful person in the most prestigious academic institution in the viceroyalty. The name might also have meant something more contemporary—namely, a hidden, discreet form of Jewishness that would not stand in the way of social acceptance, economic prosperity and—to some extent—professional prestige. In other words, the professors regarded Peruvian forms of Jewishness in the same way as the first generation of Peruvian Jews— a generation who felt comfortable enough to create and invest in community institutions while keeping Judaism away from the public eye, just in case. The school sits on Los Manzanos Street (Apple Trees Street), just a block away from San Isidro’s exclusive golf club. It occupies a large portion of a manzana (an area contained by four streets—in the shape of a square), dominating one side of the sixth block of Los Manzanos and one side of the fourteenth block of Avenida Juan Pezet. There are several streets in the area named after trees: Los Naranjos (Orange Trees), Los Cedros (Cedar Trees), Los Sauces (Willow Trees), Los Pinos (Pine Trees), and so on. The surrounding streets and avenues are named after nineteenth-century generals and statesmen (Juan Pese, Pedro Portillo, Felipe S. Salaverry, Javier Prado). Strikingly, then, trees and a past defined by powerful military and political leaders are widely represented on the street map of that part of San Isidro. By the end of the 1990s, most Jewish Limeños lived in San Isidro. And what better way to get a hold of such privileged space than by renaming a street after Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon? By their own initiative, two men who were community leaders decided on an intellectual figure for the street name. Whereas León Pinelo school was given the thoroughly Spanish name of a Jewish converso, this time the name would be that of an unambiguously Jewish figure and, more importantly, it would be chosen without any extra-Jewish influence. As I will argue throughout this book, the 1990s were the right time to claim the street for the Jewish community; perhaps it is simply a new version of the colonial Calle de Judíos, but this time Jews themselves owned the narrative. 3

See “Diego León Pinelo,” Real Academia de la Historia, accessed on May 3, 2020,

http://dbe.rah.es/biografias/35861/diego-leon-pinelo. Also, see Ricardo Falla,

Frondas peruanas: Salinas, León Pinelo, Meléndez. Inicios del discurso ensayístico Lima: Fondo Editorial de la Universidad de San Marcos, 2012.

13

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Los Maimónides In 2020, I took a walk on Maimónides Street. It is a six-block street and each block seems to represent a different piece of the same puzzle. The first begins on Lima’s longest avenue, Avenida Javier Prado, and ends on a quiet street, Norberto Eléspuru (a nineteenth-century general and politician). Blocks three and four are peaceful too, both in terms of business and contestedness: they either have a newer street sign, the kind that is now commonly used all over the city, or no sign whatsoever. It is in the fourth block that some form of tension arises: a newer street sign that reads “Ca. Maimónides—Cuadra 4” (MaimÓnides St.—Block 4) stands next to an older sign, the kind that was used until the end of the twentieth century (see fig. 2). The latter, a small wall of plaster or white-painted concrete reads “(Los Manzanos)”; that is, it shows the previous street name, Los Manzanos, in parentheses. Right above these words, there is a thick layer of white paint that unsuccessfully covers another, undesired word. The word appears to be “Maimónides” (see fig. 3). On the next block, there is another small wall. It reads, “Calle Los Manzanos”—no parentheses, no room for another name. And finally, at the feet of the school building on the sixth block, another set of street signs remind the passerby of some dispute that few would even notice. There are now three street signs: the newer version of the sign which reads “Ca. Maimónides—Cuadra 6” and two small walls. The first one is attached to one of the school’s external walls and the second stands at the end of the sidewalk. The first one reads “Calle Maimónides,” while the second—about a meter away—is quite different. The original wall read “Los Maimónides—(Los Manzanos),” as if “Maimónides,” the Greek version of “son of Maimon,” were actually a tree. To fix it, it seems someone ordered a smaller portion of the same wall to be placed on top of the tree-version of the thinker and it now reads “MAIMÓNIDES,” in capital letters, no “calle” (street) (see fig. 4). This short, but meaningful, walk along this odd street in San Isidro leads to several observations. The first one is that Jewish culture is so unusual in Lima that the Limeño version of the most renowned Jewish philosopher ended up being a made-up tree. The second observation is that some Jewish men in the mid-1990s wanted to claim for their community the name of the street their Jewish school—the only one in the country—stood on and that their request somehow got approved by the municipality of San Isidro. The third is that the neighbors who lived in the area were not easily

Introduction

Fig. 2. Altered Street Sign on the Forth Block of Maimónides Street, San Isidro

Fig. 3. Rivalrous New and Old Street Signs in San Isidro

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Fig. 4. Old Street Sign with New Addition

to persuade into having their otherwise common San Isidro tree-themed street renamed after someone they had never heard of and did not care about. As noted above, some neighbors painted over the word “Maimonides” on one of the small wall-like signs; and then everyone went back to their usual business and the seemingly rivalrous street names stayed there, aloof, next to each other. Invisibly there Before San Isidro became the most desired neighborhood for Lima’s Jews, a few upper-class Jews lived in Santa Beatriz, near the Historic Town Center. The Sephardi synagogue (1920-2010) was there, and right in front of it was Parroquia Cristo Rey, a Catholic parish. Rabbi Abraham Benhamu, who has served as rabbi at the synagogue for over fifty years even became good friends with the church’s priest. In 2010, the congregation of the synagogue moved to a refurbished house near the school in San Isidro, less than one hundred meters (330 ft) from Parroquia Medalla Milagrosa, another Catholic parish. This spatial proximity suggests both peaceful coexistence and indifference. Unlike the church, which usually hangs large posters advertising services (Holy Communion, confirmation, mass), the synagogue is very discreet. The only thing to even hint that a synagogue is there is a line of metal bars surrounding the building to prevent car bombs, a vestibule accessed by a double door, and a mezuzah. Avoiding unwanted attention serves two purposes: physical safety and, perhaps just as importantly, to maintain a closed, exclusive, social system. Yet both buildings stand within feet of each other. Other indications of proximity and complete unawareness abound. For instance, the Ashkenazi congregation, Union Israelita del Perú, used

Introduction

to hold Yom Kippur services just steps away from a bakery, making it impossibly hard for people fasting to spend the day at the synagogue. In 1990, the congregation moved out of that building and held High Holiday services at the school. Unfortunately for them, there was a French bakery called La Parisienne right in front of the school, which also emitted the unparalleled scent of freshly baked baguettes at noon. What does this simultaneous proximity, indifference, and apparent invisibility tell us about Jewish life in Lima? Is it representative and constitutive of Jewish experience in a postcolonial, developing nation? How do the city of Lima and Jewishness interrelate? Are there any links between these two concrete and imagined sources of identity? Is there a Jewish space in Lima and, if so, what does it mean to inhabit such a space? In search of a Jewish neighborhood This book contributes to two academic spheres: a) work on Peruvian minorities, particularly in the field or urban anthropology and sociology; and b) the field of Latin American Jewish studies. In the 1970s, an interest in Peruvian immigrant (“ethnic”) minorities emerged.4 There were not many books or articles on the topic for a couple of decades, though; but then, in the 1990s, with the election of a first-generation Peruvian as president for the first time ever, the interest reemerged, usually with an apologetic tone. That is to say, publications would usually state that Peru was a backward country until the arrival of Italian/Japanese/Chinese/Arab or any other non-Spanish immigrants. Quite often, writers stressed the social, political, and economic experiences of immigrants and overlooked other elements such as the journey towards rootedness, interactions with other groups, and so forth. Within the same forty years, there has been an increased interest in Latin American studies, particularly in North America and Israel, and scholars have written about Jewish Latin America from various points of view. They have usually concentrated on those countries that have large Jewish populations in the region, namely Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. They have also studied countries in which Jewishness and national politics have been intertwined, such as Cuba and, more recently,

4

Luis Millones, Minorías étnicas en el Perú (Lima: PUCP, 1973).

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Venezuela.5 Countries with smaller Jewish populations, like Peru, have commonly been overlooked. Indeed, research on Jewish Latin America has usually: 1) studied Jewishness as an isolated phenomenon, independent of the historic narrative and the social fabric of the territory being considered (along the same lines of what was the case with the research devoted to Peruvian immigrant minorities); 2) taken Jewishness to be under constant threat, that is, stressing the experiences of exclusion and hatred in each country; 3) assumed an “exceptionalist” gaze, thinking about Jews as a group with fundamentally diasporic traits.6 According to this view, being Jewish in Lima is comparable to being Jewish in Sao Paulo or Sydney. Thus, this book is an attempt at bringing together these two strains of research by addressing Jewish Peruvian-ness as a process of negotiation between a national and a transnational dimension—a negotiation which is not exclusively Jewish, but which reveals the ways in which Peruvian-ness, in general, is conceived. While considering the intersection between Jewishness and Peruvianness in Lima, one could perhaps ask wonder if there is a “Jewish neighborhood” in Lima. By doing this, instead of referring to actual geographic coordinates, the question aims at mapping out the aspirations and identity reconfigurations of Limeño Jewishness. With Jews being a predominantly urban minority, where does the articulation between Lima and Jewishness take place? And what rules organize this articulation? The Jewish population in Lima has never been large, even though Lima is the biggest, most populated, and most important city in Perú, a midsized country. By all standards, it is a very small Jewish community, with less than five thousand members at its peak in the 1950s. Yet, by the 1930s there were as many as three congregations, each representing a subgroup of Jewish immigrants living in different parts of the city according to their social class and geographic and ethnic origins. The three subgroups, which

5

In addition to the exodus of Cuban and Venezuelan Jews, both Cuba and Venezuela broke diplomatic relations with Israel—in 1973 and 2009, respectively.

6

Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein, “Challenging Particularity: Jews as a Lens on Latin American Ethnicity,” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 1, no. 2 (2006): 249-263.

Introduction

will be addressed in detail in the following pages, are Ashkenazi, Germanspeaking or Yekke, and Sephardi. If we take as a reference the history of Jewish buildings—that is, buildings either used by the Jewish communal organizations or built by the community to facilitate Jewish life in the city—the so-called “Jewish neighborhood” began as a series of enclaves. Lima’s Jewish community was founded by immigrants, the first of which arrived in postindependence Peru from Western Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century. Germanspeaking, they were so successful at inserting themselves into the social fabric of nineteenth century Lima that their descendants ceased to set themselves apart as Jews. These German-speaking Jews established the only exclusively Jewish cemetery and the oldest synagogue in the country. The synagogue is still operating in a building that was originally purchased from an English Christian church in the late 1930s. It is located in the upper-middle-class neighborhood of Miraflores, and was refounded by new German immigrants arriving in the 1920s and 1930s. The Sephardi, who came mainly from the Ottoman Empire, were also urban, middle-class immigrants and built their first synagogue in the upper-middle-class district of Santa Beatriz. In contrast, the Ashkenazi, who were the largest and most influential subgroup, came with few resources, fleeing mainly from Bessarabia and today’s Poland under more precarious conditions than the other two subgroups. The Ashkenazi had more than one synagogue, and at some point they even held rival religious services, all of them in Cercado de Lima, near the Historic Center. They originally settled in the working-class neighborhoods of El Chirimoyo and Chacra Colorada. By the 1950s, some members of the Ashkenazi community had significantly improved their lot. Some wealthy businessmen, wishing to signal their community’s economic success, decided to build a synagogue, the only one to be ever constructed for that specific purpose. It was meant to be larger than the previous halls and homes they had rented or purchased before. Deciding upon the location of the synagogue was no trivial thing. The businessmen were making a statement on behalf of a community that had already learned how to interpret Peruvian social norms. They were faced with a difficult choice: Should they build the synagogue in the upper-middle-class neighborhood of Jesus María, where many Jews already lived, or place it in San Isidro, where only the very wealthy could live? Two prominent businessmen and community leaders represented each side

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of the debate. One of them, who sympathized with Labor Zionism in the recently founded State of Israel, insisted on building the synagogue on Avenida Brasil in Jesus María, given that many families were moving there and it was still close to the working-class neighborhoods many Jews were still living in. The other leader supported center-right Zionism and wanted to build the synagogue in San Isidro. The Ashkenazi congregation ended up splitting for the next three decades, before they got back together in San Isidro, as had been predicted by one of the businessmen. This decision was crucial given that Jews were still trying to adapt to a society in which being deemed “gente decente” (decent people, people of worth) meant having achieved a combination of social and economic status and race when trying to belong. Indeed, in a postcolonial country such as Peru, class and race are inevitably, and intimately, still intertwined. Given that by the second half of the twentieth century Judaism and Jewish culture were increasingly associated with advanced, postindustrial societies, Lima’s Jews could claim a status above that of other Peruvian minorities. Throughout this book, I will argue that Jewishness in Lima has been shaped by social transformations that took place in Peru throughout the twentieth century. Not long before the era known as “the decline of the oligarchy” in Peru (that is, the late 1960s), their identification with nations like the United States and Israel opened San Isidro—both symbolically and spatially—to the descendants of Jewish immigrants from various ethnic backgrounds and territorial origins. I will also argue that their integration was made possible by Peru’s embrace of market economics, the accumulation of capital, and the logic of consumption as democratizing agents. This, combined with changes in the attitude of the Catholic Church, to other religions, and the vindication of minorities around the world gave Lima’s Jews the social position of a “First World Minority.”7 Nevertheless, Judaism and Lima have not integrated. The religion remains invisible in urban and public space in the city. The threats of international terrorism, such as the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994, might also be a reminder that, despite Jews’ social and economic situation, performing Jewishness in Lima is not as safe, thus confirming a minority status of sorts. These threats, though, have not stopped the Jewish population

7

Misha Klein, Kosher Feijoada and Other Paradoxes of Jewish life in Sao Paulo (Gainsville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2012), 201.

Introduction

of Buenos Aires from organizing cultural activities in public spaces according to the Jewish festival calendar; nor has it prevented a Reform rabbi from becoming a public representative (diputado de la nación). Studying Jewish Peru In 1977, two researchers from Tel Aviv University wrote the following about Jewish communities in Latin America: The situation of Jewish communities in Latin America raises interesting questions about the Jews’ ability to retain their individual, specific traits in a culturally homogenizing society with strong nationalist trends. . . . These questions are, however, of interest not only to the study of Jewish problems but also to the study of Latin American societies—especially the urban sector and the middle classes where Jews are concentrated.8

Using dictatorships and repressive nationalisms as contexts, the article claims that the descendants of Jewish immigrants to Latin America will face a serious challenge—namely, they will remain socially different while enjoying the perks of being fully-fledged citizens. According to the authors, first generation Latin American Jews had to resist “the temptations and pressure to assimilate.”9 By “assimilate,” the authors mean Jews removing all traits of social differentiation, thus going through a transformation from one kind of perceived homogeneity, to another,10 that is, assuming essentialist Jewish features implicitly understood by the reader at the time the article was published. Forty years later, the political situations in most parts of the region are different, with the left and the right rising and falling in the wake of the Washington Consensus and other globalizing trends. The academic discourse on Jewish Latin America is different as well. Indeed, the debate on this topic is shifting in Israel, North America, and in Latin America from a focus on the experiences of antisemitism in the region and the hardships 8

David Schers and Hadassa Singer, “The Jewish Communities of Latin America: External and Internal Factors in their Development,” Jewish Social Studies 39, no. 3 (1977): 241.

9

Ibid.: 242.

10

Rogers Brubaker, Ethnicity Without Groups (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 130.

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related to Jewish self-preservation (“the weakening of Jewish identity”)11 to consideration of the ways in which Jews have become part of society at large, just like any other group. It is a move away from an “exceptionalist” stance,12 in which Jewishness is viewed as a phenomenon isolated from the rest of the social world and instead regards Jewishness as rooted in local and national experience. In short, the latter blurs the barriers between the minority group and society as a whole. This is the framework within which historians Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein propose thinking about Jewishness as an ingredient of Latin American narratives since “Jewish-Latin Americans, like all other minority groups, are not only Diasporic but are national as well.”13 If earlier work on Jewish Latin America were keen on finding common elements among Jews in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, then, and sought to discover them in other Jewish communities in the region, the newer approach strengthens the notion that the unique, national experience of Jewish communities offers an opportunity to understand the way in which different groups in the region interrelate. It is in this framework that I found of use in the case of Limeño Jews. Along the same lines, in the 1970s an interest in Peru’s “ethnic minorities”14 seems to have emerged. This interest peaked once minority Peruvians began occupying important public positions. The election of Alberto Fujimori in 1990, a first generation Peruvian, made this trend all the more visible.15 Some scholars devoted to these topics16 have focused on minorities that are most noticeable due to the size of their populations (compared to other 11

Schers and Singer, “The Jewish Communities of Latin America,” 242.

12

Lesser and Rein, “Challenging Particularity,” 255.

13

Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein, Rethinking Jewish-Latin Americans (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2008), 5.

14

This is the term used by possibly the first academic book published in Peru explicitly addressing immigrant minorities in Peru. See Luis Millones, Minorías étnicas en el Perú (Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 1973).

15

Leyla Bartet, Memorias de cedro y olivo (Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2005), 175.

16

See Chikako Yamawaki, Estrategias de vida de los inmigrantes asiáticos en el Perú (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos and The Japan Center for Area Studies, 2002); Amelia Morimoto, Población de origen japonés en el Perú: perfil actual (Lima: Centro Cultural

Introduction

minorities in the country) and well-represented in powerful positions at the private sector, civil society, public agencies, and government. Roughly speaking, these works—and those that also take into account less visible and smaller groups—analyze these minorities’ experience of both diasporic and rooted existence.17 Other writers focus on the experience immigration, instances of (and acceptance of) exclusion, and the organizations that immigrant groups and their descendant build in order to invigorate and preserve their cultural heritage. At the same time, a number of academics assess the role a particular minority has had within Peru’s social fabric, especially in Lima. However, none of these approaches has been used to study Limeño Jews. Underrepresented in scholarship to begin with, Limeño Jews have been discussed almost entirely through a diasporic lens. This book explores changes in Jewish life in Lima from the second half of the twentieth century to the first decade of the twenty-first century. Following Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein’s approach to Jewish Latin America,18 I address Limeño Jews’ process of social insertion and rootedness, combining both an interest in their experience as an immigrant group in a territory which did not receive large numbers of immigrants and what their social insertion as a collective reveals about how immigrant minorities are viewed in a postcolonial social setting. In the context of the philosophical paradigm of intersubjectivity, individual oral testimonies, institutional structures, cultural practices, and historical changes converge in the course of these pages. I conducted qualitative research, interviewing Limeño Jews from three different age cohorts. These include Jews from different ethnic backgrounds, namely, Yekke (Jews from German-speaking lands), Ashkenazi (Yiddish-speaking Jews from Eastern Europe), Sephardic (Ladino-speaking Jews from the former Ottoman Empire), and Jews by conversion, who Peruano-Japonés, 1991), and Amelia Morimoto, Los japoneses y sus descendientes en el Perú (Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 1999); and Giovanni Bonfiglio, La presencia europea en el Perú (Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso, 2001). 17

For instance, the works of Denys Cuche on Arab immigrants in Peru seem to combine both dimensions. According to Cuche, “it is not possible to be Lebanese in Peru in the same way as in Lebanon; however, it is also not the same as in the United States, Argentina, Brazil or even Ecuador.” See Denys Cuche, “Los libaneses y sus descendientes en la sociedad peruana,” 96. In Bartet, Leyla and Farid Kahhat, La huella árabe en el Perú (Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2010).

18

Lesser and Rein, “Challenging Particularity,” 249-263.

23

24

Gente como Uno

are mainly but not exclusively Peruvians from a Catholic background. Some of the interviewees are prominent individuals, but most of them are regular people. The sample includes Jews who have had direct contact with the immigrant generation, the founders of most of the Jewish institutions that remain to this day. It also includes the voices of those who were raised and came of age within the organized Jewish community and the voices of people who grew up unaffiliated. It gathers the testimonies of Jews who have formed families with non-Jews; Jews who have been involved in national politics; Jews from various professional backgrounds; Jews who have been involved in community leadership and management; and, finally, Jews who have lived abroad. In order to place the testimonies in some kind of context, I also reviewed and analyzed documentary sources, including community periodicals, the lists of names of the Jewish day schools’ alumni, family trees, and other print and web sources. This research has allowed me to learn about the Jewish community I grew up in while achieving some distance from it in order to understand it as part of Peru from mid-twentieth century to the beginning of the twenty-first. Despite my best efforts, Gente como Uno: Class, Belonging, and Transnationalism in Jewish Life in Lima has limitations, which may be paths for further research. First, the book focuses on the organized Jewish community, pending a study of Jewish Peru from the perspective of experiences outside this social structure. Second, since there is little on the subject, the book discusses only superficially some issues that deserve to be independently researched. For example, Jewish involvement in Peruvian politics vis-à-vis other religious minorities; the position of women in small Jewish Latin American communities like the one in Lima; and the social inclusion of minorities in Peru.

Methods Approaching an immigrant minority in a country in which the study of said minorities has been rather overlooked until recently, demands overcoming a series of difficulties. The first I had to confront was how to define the sample universe. I personally went to the National Institute for Statistics and Informatics (Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática—INEI) and requested census information on religion and ethnicity in order to obtain the most reliable data. I also turned to former and (at the time) current

Introduction

leaders of the Jewish Association of Peru in order to learn about the size of Peru’s Jewish population. Until 2017, no institution in the country collected data on Jews, defined either as a religious or ethnic minority. On October 2017, a national census was conducted which contained two questions that shed some light on this issue—one on religion and the other on ethnicity. Yet the data is not public.19 At the time I was working on the book, there was still no locally produced data; and that which was available—such as the numbers included in the world reports on Jewish demography published by the Berman Jewish Data Bank—were based on estimates published by León Trahtemberg in the 1980s. Trahtemberg, a Peruvian Jew who served as the Jewish school’s principal from the 1980s until the mid-2000s counted the lists of members of religious congregations under the umbrella of the Jewish Association of Peru, thus unintentionally leaving out self-identifying Jews who were not affiliated at the time of the count. For instance, in 1988 Trahtemberg published a short report misleadingly titled Demografía judía del Perú (Jewish Demography of Peru). The report presents the results of a survey he conducted between 1985 and 1986. It consisted of reviewing the school’s “archives” and having parents fill out some questionnaires.20 The document assumes that a demographic approach towards the school population would result in a “descriptive study of the Jewish community” in Lima21 and it explicitly states that it is meant to guide “community policies [designed] to successfully confront the challenges demanded by demographic variations.”22 In other words, data were created in order to address a specific concern: the decreasing size of Lima’s Jewish population. The report lacks any mention to contemporary academic discussion, nor does it take into account the experience of other Peruvian minorities. Due to this and to the gap in social research on Jewish life in Lima, I decided to conduct flexible, qualitative research. Due to the nature of the interviews, which provided information on the interviewee and other people they reported on, the design was based on grounded theory’s theoretical

19

The numbers used in this book stem from the 2007 National Census. In 2017, a new census was conducted although the new data had not been made public as of early 2018.

20

Leon Trahtemberg, Demografía judía del Perú (Lima: Ort Perú, 1988), 7.

21

Ibid.

22

Ibid.

25

26

Gente como Uno

sampling, understood as a “process of data collection for generating theory whereby the analyst jointly collects, codes, and analyzes his data and decides what data to collect next and where to find them, in order to develop his theory as it emerges.”23 I had access to the population studied here because I was born in Lima; and even though my parents and older brother are immigrants, I grew up within the boundaries of the organized Jewish community. In short, I attended the only Jewish day school in Lima, owned and run by the Jewish Association of Peru, was affiliated to a religious congregation, had been a member of Peru’s chapter of the Zionist youth movement Hanoar Hatzioní, and had frequented Hebraica, the community’s sports and recreation center. Thus, the results presented here also benefit from cultural relativism, or the notions that “there are worldviews that are not fully knowable from the outside”24 and that understanding them “shed[s] light on larger questions about humanity as a whole.”25 It is important to say that this access sometimes played against me as a researcher. I had to make a conscious effort to distance myself from the topics I was coming across and refraining from taking a stand before them. In addition, several interviewees were reluctant to address certain issues and some did not want to reveal the names of other actors because I might know them personally. In addition, a few people I had reached through recommendations declined to be interviewed. This, of course, makes sense while studying a small community, even in the context of a large metropolis such as Lima. In the course of some interviews I was asked about my personal life, my family background, and the purpose of the interview, which could have compromised the ideal distance between interviewer and interviewee. Most interviewees expected me to engage in some “name dropping,” just so that they could be sure I was “one of them” and that I was familiar with Jewish codes in general. In fact, almost all interviewees took for granted that I was familiar with such codes, except for two people who

23

Barney G. Glaser and Anselm L. Strauss, The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research (New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction), 45.

24

Misha Klein, “Anthropology,” in The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures, ed. Laurence Roth and Nadia Valman (London: Routledge, 2014), 17.

25

Ibid., 17-18.

Introduction

gave me a lot of information about conversion to Judaism and disaffiliation from the community. Once I gained access, I approached the problem through a phenomenological lens, based on Herbert Blumer’s theory of symbolic interactionism, which proposes that “the empirical social world consists of ongoing group life and [that] one has to get close to this life to know what is going on in it.”26 I decided, then, to use life stories and collect them through unstructured interviews and autobiographical testimonies. This provided me with a fertile pathway to Jewish experience in Lima, based on the assumption that “if every individual represents a singular re-appropriation of the social and historical universal, which surrounds him, we can know the social by departing from the point of the irreducible specificity of individual practice.”27 These biographical interviews turned out to be rather productive because each interview shared not only the interviewee’s story but also additional ones about other people. Therefore, the whole set of interviews became a chorus, intertwining, telling one and many stories at once, and allowing me to “read society through . . . biography.”28 I also relied on periodicals to support the analysis. They contained photographic images, print advertisements, and texts that aided the reconstruction of aspirations, values, and class interests of the population studied.

Location Once it had been decided that the population would be Limeño Jews from three age cohorts, whose experiences were to be compared, the territorial scope of the research was also defined. Except for a few cases, the majority of interviews were conducted in metropolitan Lima and the province of El Callao, adjacent to the city.

26

Herbert Blumer, Symbolic Interactionism (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998), 38.

27

Franco Ferrarotti, On the Science of Uncertainty (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003), 55.

28

Ibid., 27.

27

28

Gente como Uno

Many interviews took place at family homes in the middle-class and upper-middle-class residential neighborhoods of Orrantia del Mar, San Isidro, Miraflores, San Borja, Lince, and Chorrillos. Some interviews took place at coffee shops in Miraflores and Orrantia del Mar; others were held in office buildings and meeting rooms in industrial plants. I met two interviewees at synagogues, both in San Isidro. Two other interviews were conducted with Peruvians living abroad—in Israel and the United States. Limeño Jews’ distinctive social practices guided the case selection. I was intrigued by how these practices came to be and how they had changed, particularly in the period from 1944 to 2014. I wanted to learn about the experience of Limeño Jews in the following contexts: Peru’s slow process of democratization; the secularization of its dominant classes; and the differentiation between state and Church. These are all recent developments I ran exploratory interviews and informal conversations with six people who had either served in leadership positions or had written about Limeño Jews. These conversations allowed me to draft a set of broad issues to address, especially in the course of the first interviews. From 2012 to 2014, I interviewed twenty-seven men and women who self-identify as Jews and live, or have lived, in Lima. While twenty-six of the interviews are considered here, one had to be discarded because the interviewee’s narrative was compromised by her senile state. Further, I analyzed an interview that León Trahtemberg conducted with a former community leader in the 1980s. León Trahtemberg very kindly lent me the recording of his interview, which was extremely valuable as it contained appreciations on key issues from the first decades of the twentieth century from the perspective of a generation long disappeared. Hence, I had twenty-seven valid interviews to work with. I organized the interviews according to age cohort, instead of generationally, because I found out that Jewish immigration to Peru has a particular, contemporary version, as Jews from other Latin American nations, North America, and Israel have arrived in the country in the past decade due to the country’s economic boom.29 It is important to say that even if earlier Jewish immigration to Peru did not end with the founding of an 29

The economic boom began in 2003 and went on until the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. See, for instance, Peru’s profile as viewed by the World Bank: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/peru.

Introduction

institutional organization, the newer waves are not numerous enough to significantly change the numerical status of this small community. Still, it is noticeable that there are fourth generation and first generation Peruvian Jews of the same age. I was interested, then, in the interviewees’ lived experiences framed in a specific time period. I tried to gather the testimonies of different people expecting to learn about the conditions for the social insertion of Jews in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Lima. With that in mind, I interviewed people who served as community leaders at different periods and people who had had highranking public positions (senior government officers, such as congressmen, ministers and other positions). I also talked to people who had experienced increasing interaction with non-Jews and the emergence of networks, either by entering different professions or by marrying Peruvians who were not born Jewish. Additionally, I analyzed publications from three periods: three Jewish day school in Lima yearbooks (1968 to 1969); half a dozen issues of the 1990s monthly Shofar (edited by one of the immigrant-founded religious congregations in Lima); several issues from the 2010s of the only remaining periodical in Jewish Lima, a weekly newsletter. I also checked genealogical trees of prominent Peruvian Jewish families and I read two autobiographical testimonies of Jews over the age of eighty which were privately published in 2013. I carefully studied two issues (one from the 1930s and the other from the 1940s) of El libro de oro: álbum social de Lima, balnearios y el Callao, a social almanac for the upper classes that was published on a yearly basis between the late nineteenth century and the 1960s. El libro de oro contains the names and addresses of Peru’s elite at the time and I wanted to check for Jewish and other noticeably immigrant surnames—that is, find out which immigrant names and how many of them there were. I also checked a list prepared by Felipe Portocarrero30 of wealthy individuals who died between 1916 and 1966 in order to see how many Jewish and immigrant surnames (Arab, Japanese, Chinese, etc.) had been taken out of the nation’s inheritance files. It was important to learn how many immigrant families had been already in the economic elite before the social transformations of

30

Felipe Portocarrero, Grandes fortunas en el Perú 1916-1960. Riqueza y filantropía en la élite económica (Lima: Universidad del Pacífico, 2014).

29

30

Gente como Uno

the late 1960s, a period known as “the crisis of the regime of oligarchic domination.”31

About This Book The book is divided into six chapters. Chapter one introduces the research’s methodology. The second examines the religious configuration of Jewish Lima, from the public registration of the Jewish Association of Peru as an umbrella organization in 1944. The third chapter analyzes the only Jewish day school in the country, an organization which provides Jewish life in Lima with a transnational connection to Israel. The socializing and cohesive role of the school is also discussed throughout the book. The fourth chapter deals with family formation in contemporary Lima, while addressing two deeply ingrained issues: conversion to Judaism and class affinity. Chapter five discusses changes in the involvement of Peruvian Jews in national politics, showing some key aspects of the collective’s process of rootedness. Finally, chapter six attempts an interpretation of this research’s findings.

Fig. 5. Commemorative street sign in Lima's main square.

31

Julio Cotler, Clases, Estado y Nación en el Perú, 2nd ed (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2005), 295.

1

The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness1

Little is known about Peruvian Jews (or Jewish Peruvians), and what has been written so far2 shows signs of what Lesser and Rein3 have defined as “exceptionalism,” a position that understands Jewishness as essential— independent of its historic and national circumstances, and isolated from society at large. In other cases,4 an Ashkenazi-centric position is assumed, leaving other Jewish ethnicities and forms of identification aside. However pioneering, this work has usually focused on outstanding individuals and their alleged “contribution” to society at large, commonly stressing a diasporic essence rather than national experience.5

1

The term, which I found extremely useful, has been previously used by Judith L. Elkin and quoted by Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein. See Lesser and Rein, “New Approaches to Ethnicity and Diaspora,” 27n13.

2

Trahtemberg, Demografía judía del Perú; León Trahtemberg, Los judíos de Lima y las provincias del Perú (Lima: Unión Israelita del Perú, 1989); León Trahtemberg, Participación del Perú en la Partición de Palestina (Lima: Colegio León Pinelo, 1990); Sonia Fleischman, “Apuntes para la historia de la inmigración judía en el Perú 1850/1950” (BA thesis, (Bach. thesis, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 1985).

3

Lesser and Rein, “Challenging Particularity,” 249-263.

4

Osmar Gonzáles, La presencia judía en la izquierda peruana (Lima: Otra Mirada, 2014).

5

This point has been raised by Lesser and Rein, who have studied immigrants in Brazil and Argentina, respectively. See Lesser and Rein, “Challenging Particularity.”

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In an attempt to study Jewish Latin America as part of a national plurality, I argue that the intersection between Jewishness and Peruvian-ness (most precisely, being Limeño) points to a different direction than, say, Jewishness and being Porteño (a citizen of Buenos Aires) or Paulista (a citizen of São Paulo). This, I suggest, is at least partially due to the following reasons: a) Peru received smaller amounts of immigrants than the countries on the Atlantic, b) secularization has had a different impact in Peru and, c) Peru’s postcolonial configuration is different than that of the larger, neighboring countries. Based on these ideas, in the following chapters I analyze the process of “rootedness” of the Limeño version of Jewishness. This aims at answering the following questions: What is unique to Jewish Lima? How has the process of becoming part of the social fabric of Peru been for Limeño Jews as a minority? What can be said of this minority’s social differentiation? How does the social insertion of Limeño Jews relate to political and social changes in Peru and to the legitimization of minorities around the world? How do Limeño Jews interact with society at large? Has this relationship changed over three and four generations of Peruvian Jews, and if so, in which manner? How do these changes make sense in light of changes within the Catholic Church and Judaism, both in Peru and elsewhere? How does the fact of being a small community in a large capital city of a medium-sized Latin American country influence the social integration of this immigrant and religious minority? I approach these questions by assuming the point of view of Jewish Lima, based on representations individuals actors had of their own experiences. These representations are articulated along with complex social processes providing the backdrop against which the changes studied here. I found three main processes that helped frame these questions throughout the historical period contemplated here (1944-2014): a) renewed, alternative, and postnational forms of belonging, b) the reconfiguration of social classes in Peru, and c) the processes of secularization and postsecularization. A. A renewed approach to the notion of nationhood in the face of alternative and postnational forms of belonging.6 Among a series of changes

6

Saskia Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008).

1. The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness

connected to the postwar period and to the process of globalization, a legitimization of forms of membership or adherence to social and ethnic groups that go beyond the territorial and the national stands out, with cosmopolitanism becoming a source of social status. I argue that at least in some parts of contemporary Latin America, being Jewish provides Latin American Jews with a transnational element conferring status and social distinction. B. The reconfiguration of social classes in Peru. After a series of social transformations attempting at breaking with the arbitrary system of power and exclusion in Peru dating back to colonial times,7 Jews in Lima have found themselves belonging to the new upper-middle and upper classes. It is worth mentioning that this has also been the case for other Peruvian immigrant minorities and immigrant minorities in other parts of Latin America.8 C. The processes of secularization and postsecularization. The process of secularization is often viewed as a phenomenon associated to the urbanization of prosperous Christian societies (such as European countries, Canada and Australia,9 and extending in some ways to other countries). Commonly understood as the separation of spheres, it has deeply affected the Catholic Church in Latin America throughout the twentieth century, as the institution has found itself in the need to modernize or go through a process of aggiornamento.10 The process of secularization has also changed Judaism, since the beginning of the emancipation of Europe’s Jewry in the eighteenth century. These processes led to the privatization of religion, which meant that religion and religiosity ceased to permeate all spheres conditioning human life (politics, social life, economics, education, etc.). In addition, the emergence of Jewish forms of nationalism and the 7

Cotler, Clases, Estado y Nación en el Perú.

8

Jeremy Lesser and Raanan Rein, “Motherlands of Choice,” in Immigration and National Identities in Latin America, ed. Nicola Foote and Michael Goebel (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014), 141-159.

9

Jurgen Habermas, “Notes on a Post-Secular Society.” Signandsight.com, accessed March 25, 2018, http://www.signandsight.com/features/1714.html; Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

10

Jose Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), 124-125.

33

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foundation of the Jewish State of Israel would redefine Jewish forms of identification as disengaged from a religious norm, as had been the case in Europe before the rise of nation-statehood. In what follows, I will present these three discussions in detail.

Peruvian-ness, Jewishness, and Belonging In the context of renewed forms of belonging and national identification, how should Jewish Peruvian-ness, that is, the intersection between Jewish and Peruvian identities, be considered? How does identification with a rarely visible minority work in Latin America? If, with the advent of modernity, as Benedict Anderson argues, “[c]ommunities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined,”11 it is safe to discuss “Jews” as a transnational, imagined community. At the same time, it is possible to refer to “Jews in Peru” or “Jews in Lima” as imagined communities—albeit much more concrete ones inasmuch as they cannot be conceived of as a “nation,” but rather as a small group composed of the descendants of Jewish immigrants and Jews by conversion. The former’s main connection to each other as immigrants has been mainly religious and not necessarily linguistic or national, whereas the latter are Jews by virtue of their religiosity and not through ancestry. Hence, religion seems to play a major role in defining belonging in Jewish Lima. Yet, how do Jews in Lima and its subgroups see themselves? How do they make sense of their position as minorities in a postcolonial territory? In this vein, Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein, historians of Latin America who have worked on Brazil and Argentina respectively, advocate for a new approach to the field of Latin American Jewish studies, particularly since the expansion of said field since the 1980s. The authors suggest that academic work on Latin American Jewish studies feature two elements that need to be revisited in order to assume the new perspective: the first element is the notion that Jewishness is the central, most important, and sometimes only, identity among Latin American Jews. Lesser and Rein argue that “Jewish life in any one Latin American country is often presented as similar to Jewish life in any other specific country.”12 The second element common to

11

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 2006), 6.

12

Lesser and Rein, “Challenging Particularity”: 253.

1. The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness

books and articles on Jewish Latin America that is criticized by the authors is the “dominant presumption . . . that Jews live in closed communities,”13 especially if the researcher bases their work on sources written in Yiddish or Hebrew, languages used orally and in writing by the immigrants, giving the impression of isolation from society at large. Instead, the authors propose to “focus on the dynamic relations between Jews and non-Jews in economic, social, cultural and political life.”14 Thus, the intellectual shift suggested by Lesser and Rein consists of assuming a comparative perspective within the field of “New Ethnic Studies,”15 which would include the study of Jewishness in Latin America in comparison to the study of other ethnic immigrant minorities in the region. In that sense, Lesser and Rein wish to examine the national experience as a whole while paying close attention to the voices of Jews, among other voices, in order to account for the social configuration of Latin American societies such as Brazil or Argentina. Having done extensive research on the two countries, the authors conclude that Jewish Latin Americans are “normative Latin Americans”16 and that “national categories such as ‘Argentine’ and ‘Brazilian’ include members of numerous ‘minority’ groups, all of whom promote their attachment to multiple motherlands as critical to their status as national citizens.”17 Unlike Lesser’s and Rein’s discoveries when studying Jewish Brazil and Argentina, when investigating Jewish Peruvians in Lima as an immigrant and/or religious minority I stumbled upon the centrality of the communal organization as a reference for “Jewishness” in the city, whatever that may mean. The thesis of this book, then, stands somewhere in between work “from within” and that which can be considered as work “from the outside.” The approach “from within,” which is criticized by Lesser and Rein, is connected to previous work centered on the organized community. Since I look at a specific Jewish community as it sees itself and its relationship to language, nation, other groups, and social class, I could not disregard this

13

Ibid.: 254.

14

Ibid.

15

Ibid.: 258.

16

Lesser and Rein, “Motherlands of Choice,” 141-159.

17

Ibid.

35

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point of view. Instead, the latter approach aims at “decentering”18 or examining Jewishness as part of Peru’s national articulation, removing the focus from the organized Jewish community. In the course of my research, I found differences between studying smaller and larger Jewish populations in Latin America. I think that Lesser’s and Rein’s view is consistent with the populations studied by them, Brazil and Argentina respectively. Nevertheless, such work might yield different results when approaching cases such as Peru, in general, and Lima, in particular. On the one hand, and unlike Peru, Brazil and Argentina were accessible to immigrants through the Atlantic Ocean, which meant they were easier to reach from Europe and the Middle East. They had successful policies encouraging immigration, and attracted larger groups of immigrants— millions of people, in fact, between the second half of the nineteenth century and the first three decades of the twentieth. In contrast, smaller groups arrived in Peru during the same period.19 Next to Mexico, the Jewish populations of Argentina and Brazil are Latin America’s “large” Jewish communities: by 2009, Brazil had a Jewish population of 95,800; Argentina 182,500; and México 39,500.20 These three Latin American countries have the largest Jewish populations (both affiliated and unaffiliated) in the region. They are followed by Chile (20,600), Uruguay (17,600), Venezuela (12, 200, although numbers for Venezuela seem to have dramatically shrunk in the past decade due to political and economic instability), and Panama (8,000).21 Smaller communities of 5,000 Jews or fewer are found elsewhere in the region. I argue that the size of the community, particularly in major urban centers, is related to the way Jewishness has been experienced and understood in the region before.

18

Harriet Hartman and Debra Kaufman, “Decentering the study of Jewish Identity: Opening the Dialogue with Other Religious Groups” Sociology of Religion 67, no. 4 (2006): 365-385.

19

See Yamawaki, Estrategias de vida de los inmigrantes asiáticos en el Perú; Bonfiglio, La presencia europea en el Perú.

20

Sergio DellaPergola, “¿Cuántos somos hoy? Investigación y narrativa sobre población judía en América Latina,” in Pertenencia y alteridad, ed. Haim Avni, Judith Bokser, Sergio DellaPergola, Margalit Bejarano, and Leonardo Senkman (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2011), 314-315.

21

Ibid.

1. The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness

In this vein, I shall argue that the role and influence of the specific Jewish communal organization varies from country to country, and is a counterintuitive indicator of national distinctiveness. That is to say, the organization centralizing the various religious and nonreligious Jewish associations in a particular country—such as the Asociación Judía del Perú (the Jewish Association of Peru), the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) or Comité Central de la Comunidad Judía de México (the Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico)—may not be as important to Jews in countries with (relatively) large Jewish populations mainly because those countries and cities offer a wider array of spaces for Jewishness to intertwine with the national setting. In other words, religious associations, educational centers, sports centers, cultural centers, academic programs, charities, press outlets, Judaica shops have no need to depend on the organized community. Indeed, government agencies and legislation might explicitly acknowledge the social differentiation of local Jewish population, thus giving way to different ways to experience nationhood and Jewishness. This is seldom the case for small communities in large metropolitan cities in Latin America. In short, I have found that organized community institutions are more influential in smaller communities than in larger ones. For the former, the communal organization serves as the main reference point for Jewish life and it sometimes determines the standard around which local forms of Jewish adherence become validated. This might even be more noticeable in societies in which public debate and democratic institutions are largely absent. I found, for example, that in the case of Lima, even Jews who choose to remain unaffiliated have somehow been involved with the central Jewish organization, at least temporarily—either sending their children to the only Jewish day school in the country, attending religious services at one of the synagogues, or visiting relatives and friends who are affiliated. Moreover, for those who might not be involved, this “resource center” is the only institution supporting the different stages of Jewish life. A wedding, a Jewish festival (for instance, purchasing challot for Shabbat), or a burial ceremony almost always requires Jews (and non-Jews) in Lima to step into the realm of communal organization. There is one thing that has changed over time and that is the value conferred on affiliation to the community. Originally, it worked as a strategy for recognition for those who did not have any roots in a new place. Nowadays, I would argue, it works as a choice one makes as

37

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part of a personal process of rootedness and cultural identification; and, at the same time, as a strategy for “internationalization,” since transnational ties are a source of social status in contemporary Lima. Thus, in the context of secularization, Limeño Jews seem able to position themselves as attached to or removed from the communal organization as they wish to pick and mix different elements from different social and cultural backgrounds without their Jewish and/or Peruvian identities being contested.

Class Reconfiguration and Elective Affinity While addressing the elements that socially distinguish the actors, practices, ground rules, and scenarios that constitute Jewish Lima, I found that secularization, understood both as “differentiation of the secular spheres from religious institutions and norms”22 and as “marginalization of religion to a privatized sphere,”23 along with the vindication of this particular religious minority, help explain the position Jews hold within the social fabric of Lima. Religiosity moved from the public sphere (before the advent of modernity) into the private sphere, only to resurface publicly in the late twentieth century, in a context that acknowledged and valued diversity, to a certain extent. It in this setting that social differentiation through religious culture stops being at odds with social integration. Indeed, it seems that the inclusion of Jews in the United States, Europe, and Israel as “civilized”24 people throughout the second half of the twentieth century has resulted in the unexpected identification of Jews as “European whites” and, therefore, as part of hegemonic discourse.25 Also, the objectification of racial traits as a reaction to the expansion of civil rights in the United States has rendered

22

Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World, 211.

23

Ibid.

24

Santiago Slabodsky, Decolonial Judaism: Triumphal Failures of Barbaric Thinking (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

25

Susannah Heschel, “Jewish Studies as Counterhistory,” in Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism, ed. David Biale, Michael Galchinsky, and Susannah Heschel (University of California Press, 1998), 101-115.

1. The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness

Jews (along with other formerly non-white minorities) “white.”26 How has this same phenomenon been experienced in a postcolonial society such as Lima, in which civil rights were also contested throughout the twentieth century? Are Jews also perceived as “European whites”? If so, what relation does that perception have with the social changes that took place in Peru and worldwide from the second half of the twentieth century onward? I propose that from the second part of the twentieth century, once Jews begin to be generally deemed “non-Christian, European, white” in the Americas, and just as traditional class and ethnic hierarchies were challenged in Peru, there was a collective upward social mobility among Jews in Lima that is explained by the notion of “elective affinity.” The term “elective affinity” (Wahlverwandtschaft) was used by Max Weber to capture the relationship between capitalism and Protestantism, which can be interpreted as a special bond between “certain forms of religious faith and the ethics of profession-vocation.”27 Indeed, Weber’s use of the term also includes various other phenomena, among them the affinity “between worldviews and social class interests” and that between “a social class’ lifestyles and certain styles of religious life.”28 Postcolonial Peru shares some features with other postcolonial societies, such as the United States and South Africa, while it also stands in stark contrast to them. I argue that, just as in the United States, where “privilege and pigmentation were closely correlated,”29 being perceived as “white” in Peru is usually associated with power. In addition, unlike the United States, both South Africa and Peru have nonwhite majority populations that have commonly found themselves in a position of disadvantage, whereas those who could prove European ancestry typically share privilege and power. However, unlike the United States and South Africa, in Latin America there is a “tendency to explain and legitimate racial hierarchies through culture,” which has led to “a rhetoric of exclusion, discrimination and dom26

Matthew F. Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).

27

Michael, Löwy, “Le Concept d’affinité élective chez Max Weber,” Archives De Sciences Sociales Des Religions 127 (2004): 93.

28

Ibid., 98.

29

Nancy Foner and George Friedrickson, Not Just Black and White: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Immgiration, Race, and Ethnicity in the United States (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2004), 1.

39

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inance framed in the apparent egalitarianism of culture talk.”30 In Peru, in fact, the boundaries between “white,” “mestizo,” “indian,” and “black” have historically been crossed through economic achievement, as seen in what has been called the “utopia of whitening” or the legacy of a race-wealth bargain exercised by Peruvians in colonial times.31 When studying the social composition of countries like Peru, it is important to state that despite its large indigenous communities and the fact that “interracial” unions were not forbidden, “culturalist visions of race have been pervasive among Latin American thinkers . . . privileging ‘culture’ over ‘biology.’”32 Thus, being white in such a setting “may also be influenced by . . . wealth and profession.”33 Moreover, racial identity in postcolonial Peru has been often defined by geography,34 level of education, and “allegedly invisible racial characteristics such as ‘intelligence’ and ‘morality.’”35 The integration of Jews into the new upper-middle and upper class in Peru came about in the aftermath of larger twentieth-century social transformations, including the expansion of the right to vote so as to include illiterate citizens for the first time in 1979. These changes did not entirely constitute a complete break from Peru’s colonial heritage,36 yet they did lead to new arrangements among the classes.37

30

Marisol de la Cadena, “Reconstructing Race: Racism, Culture and Mestizaje in Latin America, NACLA Report on the Americas 34, no. 6 (2001): 23.

31

Gonzalo Portocarrero, Sombras coloniales y globalización en el Perú de hoy (Lima: Red para el Desarrollo de las Ciencias Sociales en el Perú, 2013).

32

Ibid., 23,

33

Marvin Harris, Theories of Culture in Postmodern Times (Lanham, MD: Altamira Press, 1999), 113.

34

Cecilia Méndez, “De indio a serrano: nociones de raza y geografía en el Perú (siglos XVIII-XXI),” Histórica 25, no. 1 (2011): 53-102.

35

De la Cadena, “Reconstructing Race”, 18.

36

Cotler, Clases, Estado y Nación; Gonzalo Portocarrero, “La utopía del blanqueamiento y la lucha por el mestizaje,” in Sombras coloniales y globalización en el Perú de hoy, ed. Gonzalo Portocarrero (Lima: Red para el Desarrollo de las Ciencias Sociales, 2013).

37

Romeo Grompone, Las nuevas reglas de juego (Lima: IEP, 1999); Carmen Rosa Balbi and Carlos Arámbulo, “La recomposición de las clases medias y el voto en el Perú,”in Cambios sociales en el perú 1968-2008, ed. Orlando Plaza (Lima: PUCP, 2008).

1. The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness

In this context, Jews in Lima—just like the descendants of Arab immigrants in the country,38 are classified as “foreigners” (the term having a positive connotation) and/or “white”—both highly desirable features related to urban cultural capital and lifestyle. This situation came to pass once changes affecting two of the groups that used to hold power in the country (the Catholic Church and the oligarchy) provided the right conditions for Jews, as a minority and a group, to enter the newly restructured upper-middle and upper classes in Lima. Changes in the Catholic Church’s attitude and discourse regarding Judaism and the crisis of the traditional oligarchy in Peru created new forms of affinity between Jews (both as a religious and immigrant minority) and non-Jews. This affinity has been recently redefined by new ways of thinking about “belonging” in general. One such case is clearly illustrated by those who argue that globalization and digitization have altered the relationship between nation-states and their citizens.39 This is also expressed by changes in terms of membership,40 particularly though not exclusively, in Europe, where nationalist sentiments have emerged among nationless groups (or “nations”).41 In this new setting, there are forms of allegiance and identification that are not defined by the nation-state nor territorially, echoing premodern forms of belonging that are characteristic of minorities such as Jews, who, until not long ago, were stateless and multi-territorial. The legitimacy, then, of equal citizenship rights and, to an extent, the legitimacy of globalization partly explain the smooth integration of minorities such as Jews in some peripheral Western countries, in spite of the fact (or, perhaps, due to the fact) that these minorities maintain transnational solidarity networks. The proliferation of new forms of membership, and the contemporary articula-

38

Cuche, “Los palestinos en el Perú”; Cuche, “Los libaneses y sus descendientes.”

39

Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights.

40

Yasemin N. Soysal, “Changing Citizenship in Europe,” in Citizenship, Nationality and Migration in Europe, ed. David Cesarani and Mary Fulbrook (New York, NY: Routledge, 1996), 18.

41

Montserrat Guibernau and Rosamaría Núñez, “El futuro del nacionalismo de las naciones sin Estado,” Revista Mexicana de Sociología 60, no. 1 (January–March 1998): 115.

41

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tion of cosmopolitanism42 and transnationality in denationalized societies, might alter the meaning of nationhood and belonging to a nation. In addition, since cosmopolitanism in countries like Peru is associated with elites, some immigrant minorities are conferred status by remaining transnational. For Jews in Peru, this transnationality resides in their connection to Israel and other Jewish communities around the world. This has also been the case in other parts of Latin America43 and has contributed to Latin American Jews perceiving themselves, and being perceived as a “first world minority.”44

Secularization and Postsecularization Identification as Jewish in Lima is connected to aspirational motives since transnational ties grant status in the country’s postcolonial society. But how do religion and religiosity factor in? I suggest here that the process of secularization determines the social position of Jews in Lima as a religious minority. According to Peter Berger, the process of secularization began in modernity and originally consisted of “the evacuation by the Christian churches of areas previously under their control or influence—as in the separation of church and state, or in the expropriation of church lands, or in the emancipation of education from ecclesiastical authority.”45 Berger argues that this process has had a threefold effect in Europe: there was a secularization of society, culture, and subjectivity insofar as “the modern West has produced an increasing number of individuals who look upon the world and their own lives without the benefit of religious interpretations.”46 These so-called “secularizing forces”47 have expanded to different parts of the world even though Berger claims that, despite evidence supporting a “secularization of consciousness” in the West, there is no evidence pointing to the same 42

Montserrat Guibernau, Belonging (Cambridge: Polity, 2013).

43

Luis Roniger, “Latin American Jews and processes of transnational legitimization and delegitimization,” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 9, no. 2 (2010).

44

Klein, Kosher feijoada and Other Paradoxes of Jewish life in Sao Paulo, 201.

45

Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy (New York: Integrated Media, 2011), 107.

46

Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 107-108.

47

Ibid., 108.

1. The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness

occurrence outside Europe.48 So, is there evidence of this process affecting postcolonial societies, which might be considered Western, as in former subjects of Western empires? The theory of secularization stems from classical sociological theories, such as the notions of differentiation developed by the founders of the discipline—Durkheim or Weber, for example.49 These writers presented “the conceptualization of the process of societal modernization as a process of functional differentiation and emancipation of the secular spheres—primarily the state, the economy, and science—from the religious sphere and the concomitant differentiation and specialization of religion within its own newly found religious sphere.”50 With modernity, new ways of interpreting and understanding belonging and otherness became available. There was a turn away from the strictly religious views that underpinned what were essentially religious societies51—societies in which belonging to a religious culture granted the equivalent of modern citizenship—to a version of belonging defined by modern criteria such as territory, ethno-linguistics, and national characteristics.52 According to Berger and Casanova, this was made possible by the expansion of modern capitalism, which also affected Latin America. From this perspective, the differentiation of religious institutions is related to the urbanization of Western societies in the nineteenth century,53 a development that also took place in Latin America in the twentieth century.54 As modern science and technology advanced and work was rationalized,55 in-

48

Ibid., 107.

49

Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World, 18.

50

Ibid., 19.

51

Ibid., 31.

52

Anderson, Imagined Communities.

53

Taylor, A Secular Age.

54

Peru provides a good example of this, as it only protected its citizens’ freedom of religion in the constitution of 1920.

55

Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the “Spirit” of Capitalism: And Other writings (London: Penguin Classics, 2002).

43

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stitutionalized forms of religion progressively dropped out of the public sphere.56 One of the key effects of the above was the privatization of religion, or its apparent confinement to the private sphere.57 In modernity, then, Western European governments and others around the world no longer required “a sacred cosmos” or “public religious worldview.”58 Various religious traditions have reacted to this process, though, creating a phenomenon that has been defined as the “deprivatization of religion.”59 In other words, if one of the by-products of secularization is an apparent decline in religiosity (or at least the possibility of remaining indifferent to, or rejecting, religion), one of the most noticeable reactions to this development has been a revival of religiosity that has emerged in both the public and the private sphere.60 In the context of postsecularization, then, religiosity reappears as an element affecting the way people relate to each other, that is, as one of many forms of social differentiation.

Secularization and Judaism The pluralization of religion is another important phenomenon closely connected to the process of secularization.61 Such pluralization is viewed as a choice.62 Accordingly, “different religious groups seek, by different means, to maintain their particular subworlds in the face of a plurality of competing subworlds.”63 The case of Judaism in modern times is striking, as it combines a series of elements deriving from Jewish history, particularly in Christian Europe. Judaism is possibly one of the most complicated religious civilizations in

56

Thomas Luckmann, quoted in Casanova, Public Religions, 36.

57

Ibid., 35.

58

Ibid., 59.

59

Ibid.

60

Olivier Roy, Holy Ignorance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); also, Casanova, Public Religions.

61

Berger, The Sacred Canopy.

62

Ibid., 152.

63

Ibid., 151-152.

1. The Intersection Between Peruvian-ness and Jewishness

of “the interplay between cultural marker and religious marker.”64 Thus, it is a minority religion that has dealt with two phenomena throughout history: “acculturation . . . and reinforcement of the religious marker.”65 With the process of secularization though, it became imperative “to redefine a Jewish identity in a manner that was no longer tied to strict observance of halacha,”66 since the shift in worldview that was caused by the secularization of the surrounding Christian world also left a mark on the Jewish communities living as minorities in Europe. As a by-product of the process of secularization and modernity, Jewishness has been viewed both from the inside and from the outside, as something entirely religious; as an ethnically founded affiliation; or as a cultural element of a wider, multicultural discourse.67 Moreover, Judaism did not only go through its own internal process of secularization as part of the Haskalah of the Jewish Enlightenment movement. It has also reacted to the effects of secularization and has joined postsecularization, in parallel to the ‘deprivatization’ of religion described above. Accordingly, Jewish reactions to secularization have taken the form of a religious revival that has tried to undo the separation of religion from the various public spheres, not just to preserve Judaism’s religious legacy, but, as is the case for some religious groups within Judaism, to lead secular Jews into observance.68 In this context, small Jewish Latin American communities such as Lima’s have had to reinvent themselves as Orthodox, even if this religious identity stands in contrast to the immigrant’s legacy, their descendants’ lifestyle, practices. and aspirations. Thus, Orthodoxy becomes instrumental in the reconfiguration of Jewish identities in parts of Latin America: it is a source of legitimacy, a transnational network and a religious perspective that, under unique small-community conditions, does not seem to clash with the secular, upper-middle-class urban lifestyle of twenty-first-century Limeño Jews.

64

Roy, Holy Ignorance, 84.

65

Ibid.

66

Ibid., 85.

67

Ibid.

68

Ibid., 87.

45

2

Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima1

Recent changes in the religious landscape of Latin America have had a deep political, social and even economic impact in the region. The case of Peru confirms an expanding and increasingly diverse ‘religious market’ in which religion provides socioeconomic mobility,2 social status, solidarity networks, and so forth. Accordingly, “people can ‘consume’ a religious product without having to be familiar with the culture that has produced it.”3 Indeed, as religious consumers choose, they are expected to assess which religion (and which denomination within a religion) suits them best, just as one would do when consuming other goods.4 How did Judaism fare in Peru under these globalized, market-like conditions? Organized Jewish life in Lima dates back to the independent, postcolonial period. Modern Lima, still struggling with the loss of its former status 1

An earlier version of this chapter appeared in a 2016 volume on religious diversity in Peru (in Spanish). To the best of my knowledge, it was the first time that a chapter devoted to Judaism was included in a book on religion in Peru. See Romina Yalonetzky, “Oferta religiosa judía en la ciudad de Lima,” in Diversidad religiosa en el Perú. Miradas multiples, ed. Catalina Romero (Lima: CEP; IBC; PUCP, 2016).

2

Uta Ihrke-Buchroth, “Movilidad religiosa y aspiración social en iglesias neopentecostales de Lima,” in Romero, ed., Diversidad religiosa en el Perú.

3

Roy, Holy Ignorance, 160.

4

Laurence R. Iannacone, “Religious Markets and the Economics of Religion,” Social Compass 39, no. 1 (1992): 123.

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

as an important colonial enclave during the Spanish viceroyalty, experienced an ambivalent position towards ‘others’ in the nineteenth century. On the one hand, and under the ideal of modern citizenship, it had abandoned the colonial practices of ethnic purity, previously promoted by its very own branch of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. It had also managed to abolish slavery by 1854, only to host Chinese and Japanese workers which became the two largest immigrant-groups in Peru’s modern history.5 Peru would not be an attractive destination for nineteenth-century Jewish immigrants, though. Its location by the Pacific, its less than encouraging immigration policies,6 and its unstable politics7 might probably account for its lack of appeal. Indeed, it would not be a common destination for immigrants coming from Europe in the period of mass migrations. As a result, whereas Argentina received Jewish immigrants in the hundreds of thousands, and Brazil and Mexico did so in the dozens of thousands,8 Peru received less than five thousand.9 However, some Jews did arrive in the second half of the nineteenth century. And then others arrived in the first decades of the twentieth century. These immigrants founded the main institutions that would shape Jewish life in Peru, thus making it a distinctly immigrant-based community. So, who came and how did this group shape the future of Jewish life in Lima? There were at least three subgroups of Jewish immigrants in Lima and other provinces, and at least another subgroup immigrated from Morocco to the Amazon in the late nineteenth century. I will only discuss Lima, though, since it is the only surviving Jewish community in Peru which is

5

Yamawaki, Estrategias de vida de los inmigrantes asiáticos en el Perú, 50; see also, Carlos Contreras and Marcos Cueto, Historia del Perú Contemporáneo (Lima: PUCP; Universidad del Pacífico; IEP, 2000), 130-131.

6

Judith Elkin, The Jews of Latin America, 44.

7

Alberto Flores-Galindo, “La tradición autoritaria. Violencia y democracia en el Perú,” in Portocarrero, ed., Sombras coloniales y globalización en el Perú de hoy.

8

Elkin, The Jews of Latin America, 52.

9

According to Trahtemberg, in 1972, at the height of the Jewish population, there were five thousand Jews living in Lima. See León Trahtemberg, Demografía judía del Perú (Lima: Colegio León Pinelo, 1988), 23.

47

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recognized by the Jewish Agency10 for Israel and claims official, public representation for Jews countrywide. The 1940s were key for the conformation of an organized community in Lima. To begin with, social differentiation among Jewish immigrants was dissolving around that time, when first-generation, Peruvian-born Jews, or young immigrants were coming of age and getting married to Jews of different territorial and linguistic origins. Also, the idea of establishing a community for the long run was becoming a reality, particularly in the aftermath of the Shoah and the destruction of a large number of Jewish communities in Europe. Furthermore, a period of political stability, with two successive democratically elected governments, a rarity in Peru’s relatively short political history, confirmed the feasibility of remaining in the country. In this context, the Jewish Association of Peru,11 an umbrella organization, was created and registered in public records. This organization was founded in 1944 and originally represented the three religious congregations founded by the three subgroups of Jewish immigrants to Peru: Yekke, Ashkenazi, and Sephardic Jews. The only Jewish religious congregation not to be founded by an immigrant group from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century is Chabad Lubavitch, which sits outside the formal, umbrella organization. A Chabad Lubavitch envoy arrived in Lima in the late 1980s and opened up a ‘branch’ of the transnational, Brooklyn-based messianic missionary movement. Yekke Jews12 came from German-speaking lands in numerous migratory waves: first in the second half of the nineteenth century, after the 1848

10

The Jewish Agency for Israel (in Hebrew, Ha-Sochnut Ha-Yehudit Le-Israel) was created by the Zionist movement in the late 1920s in order to manage the immigration and absorption of Jewish immigrants to the future national Jewish home in Palestine. Nowadays, it still handles these processes and it sends envoys to Jewish communities around the globe with the purpose of fostering Jewish immigration to the State of Israel and strengthening the ties of Jewish communities outside of Israel with the Jewish State.

11

The first name of the association was the Asociación de Sociedades Israelitas del Perú, which translates to “Association of Israelite Societies of Peru.” It was changed in the 1970s to the Asociación Judía del Perú, the Jewish Association of Peru, which is the name I will be using throughout the book.

12

The word “Yekke” means ‘jacket’ in Yiddish. It was assumed that Jews from Germanspeaking territories were very formal and strict and would never remove their jackets. For that reason, they were colloquially referred to as ‘Yekke.’

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

Revolution; then, during the first decades of the twentieth century, in the aftermath of World War I, and finally after Nazism’s rise to power. Sephardic Jews were Ladino or Judeo-Spanish-speaking immigrants from the former Ottoman Empire whereas Ashkenazi Jews were Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Eastern Europe, frequently (at least for those arriving in Peru) from parts of Bessarabia and Poland. Table 1 shows the Jewish religious diversity in Lima up to 2016. Yekke Jews founded the first Jewish congregation in modern Peru in 1870: the Sociedad de Beneficencia y Culto 1870. The founders of this congregation also acquired and established the country’s first Jewish cemetery. According to oral sources and at least one written one,13 the descendants of those first immigrants did not continue identifying themselves as Jews. Thus, the congregation was re-founded in the early twentieth century by a new wave of German immigrants bringing with them German Modern Orthodoxy. Even though Yekkes are, technically, Ashkenazi Jews, since their ancestors inhabited Christian territories in the area between Central and Western Europe in the Middle Ages, including German-speaking lands North and East of the Alps,14 they are viewed as distinct from Yiddish-speaking Jews. Indeed, Jews immigrating from Central and Eastern Europe whose shared language was Yiddish founded their own congregations upon arriving in Lima. The Unión Israelita del Peru is currently the largest congregation of the Jewish Association of Peru and the only remaining one of the Ashkenazi subgroup. Finally, Jews whose shared language was Ladino (or Judeo-Spanish) and/or Judeo-Arab are usually referred to as ‘Sephardi.’ These immigrants came from lands that used to be part of the Ottoman Empire and from the North of Africa. It is important to state that this distinction between subgroups—Yekke, Ashkenazi, and Sephardi—does not reflect the array of actual differences in terms of language, customs, liturgy, or place of origin. Yet, I choose to present the data this way because more exhaustive differences would be distracting to the analysis of a community as small as this one.

13

Herman Zwilich, Vendedor de chismes (Lima: Self-published, 1966).

14

Haim H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 386.

49

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I will devote the rest of this chapter to describing the main features of each congregation and the changes they have undergone in the past seventy years. Table 1 Jewish Religious Diversity in Lima Founding group

Origin

Congregation founded in Lima

Year

Current affiliation (twentyfirst century)

Yekke (German speakers)

Cetral and Western Europe

The Asociación de Beneficencia y Culto 1870

1870— without continity. Refounded in the 1930s

Conservative Movement (Masorti Olami)

Member

Sephardi (Ladino, JudaeoSpanish, JudaeoArabic speakers)

Eastern Mediterranean, former Ottoman Empire

Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí

1920s

Orthodox Sephardi

Member

Ashkenazi

Central and Eastern Europe

The Unión Israelita del Perú

1920s

Zionist Orthodox (Dati Leumiinspired)

Member

United States

Jabad Lubavitch del Perú

1989– 1990

Ultraorthodoxy

Non member

(Yiddish speakers)

Chabad Lubavitch (twentieth century) (Yiddish)

The Jewish Association of Peru

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

Here to Stay: The Jewish Association of Peru15 The Jewish Association of Peru (originally, the Association of Israelite Societies) is the umbrella organization that centralizes Jewish life in Peru. It was founded by three congregations offering religious (culto) and welfare (beneficencia) services to immigrant Jews in the independent period and their descendants; and to Jews by conversion arriving in an already established community, some of whom found Judaism through family connections with Jews by birth. Unlike other immigrant groups, the immigrants founding and belonging to the congregations of the Jewish Associations of Peru did not necessarily share a common historical experience, although they did share a common system of beliefs. Indeed, they came from entirely different parts of the world, and, yet, just like other immigrant groups and their descendants, they shared a telos, that is, a fate or destiny in a place like Peru, which did not have openly Jewish roots. In the new setting and by creating new communities, previous forms of inner social differentiation were left behind in order to create new forms of social cohesion.16 Jewish immigrants to Peru, from the second half of the nineteenth century to the first few decades of the twentieth, sometimes shared the same enemies, fears, and aspirations. Ashkenazi and Yekke immigration to Peru was permeated by the Jewish persecution suffered by European Jews that ultimately resulted in the Nazi genocide before and during World War II. In addition, all three subgroups shared some concern regarding the creation of a Jewish ‘National Home’ in former British Palestine. Both events would affect the processes of identity formation for Jews throughout the twentieth century, bringing out additional elements of identification to newly established communities. 15

Some immigrant Jews, mainly from Morocco, lived in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest during the late nineteenth-century rubber boom. Some of them founded a community in the city of Iquitos. I will not refer to this community—arguably, the only other immigrant-based, Jewish organized community in Peruvian history—as its history has already been studied by Ariel Segal. See Ariel Segal, Jews of the Amazon: Self-Exile in the Earthly Paradise (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1999).

16

The cases of the Peruvian Japanese and the Peruvian Arab communities partly resemble the case of Limeño Jews. See Morimoto, Población de origen japonés en el Perú: perfil actual; Yamawaki, Estrategias de vida de los inmigrantes asiáticos en el Perú; Cuche, Los palestinos en el Perú, un siglo de presencia discreta y exitosa.

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The Jewish Association of Peru had an initial stage of creation and consolidation in the 1940s. It has not always worked as a functional, articulate unit, and a series of external and inner crises are examples of periods of increasing and decreasing activity. For instance, by the end of the twentieth century, and having experienced a reduction in the size of its population, different actors within the Jewish community leadership proposed to gather all three congregations belonging to the Jewish Association of Peru under a single community center, sharing the same plot of land. The project was mainly motivated by the same economic advantages driving those who promoted the creation of a single entity back in 1946, that is, sharing the administrative costs related to community management—the cemetery, the salaries of rabbis, utilities, and most noticeably for the 1990s on, security. The project failed partly due to the opposition of some influential men within community leadership who argued that sharing a community center with a non-Orthodox congregation—in short, the Masorti congregation of Lima—was detrimental to those Jews who, allegedly, were affiliated to Orthodoxy. Furthermore, in 2016, the Ashkenazi and Sephardic congregations decided to merge despite of their differences in liturgy, ancestry, and customs. Anticipating the retirement of Rabbi Abraham Benhamu, the chief rabbi of Peru and rabbi of the Sephardi congregation since 1968, and the prohibitive costs of hiring rabbis in the twenty-first century, the two congregations stressed the one thing they seem to share—namely, their self-proclaimed Orthodoxy—as grounds for their unification. This, of course, left the Masorti congregation out, even though the congregation was a founding member of the Jewish Association of Peru. This kind of tension, I would like to argue, emerged from the conditions under which Peruvian and Jewish identities meet. Hence, citizenship, transnationality, class reconfiguration, Jewish statehood, the struggle for the recognition of minorities, and a religious revival are all involved in this relationship. The Jewish Association of Peru sits in Lima, the only place in Peru where Jewish life has remained active uninterrupted. Even though there were Jewish immigrants to other towns and cities in Peru, most Jewish immigrants moved to Lima by the 1940s.17 In 2017, it became the public entity representing administrative matters related to Jewish life in the country, also representing Peruvian Jewry before Jewish agencies and communities

17

Trahtemberg, Los judíos de Lima y las provincias del Perú.

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

around the world. However, it does not appear as a single entity in the recently created Register of Religious Entities (Registro de Entidades Religiosas), managed by Peru’s General Office for Justice and Religious Freedom (Dirección General de Justicia y Libertad Religiosa), administered by Peru’s Ministry of Justice. Rather, there are three registered, Jewish entities: Chabad Lubavitch of Peru, the Asociación de Beneficencia y Culto 1870, and the recent Sephardi-Ashkenazi fusion the Unión Israelita del Perú Asociación de Beneficencia y Culto. The Jewish Association of Peru, though, coordinates actions related to the management of the common assets shared by the founding congregations: the Jewish cemetery, the Jewish day school, the sports club, the home for the elderly, the weekly newsletter, two burial societies,18 and a series of working committees overseeing fundraising, public relations, and other activities. The Jewish Association of Peru serves and represents affiliated Jews in Peru. This means that there are Jews, particularly Jews by conversion from cities and towns other than Lima, who are not represented by this organization. Some of them have emigrated to Israel. That is the case with the Bnei Moshe, formed by Jews who do not descend from Jewish immigrants who converted from Catholicism to Judaism due to a change in religious conviction. Another similar case is that of Jews from the Amazon, who descend from nineteenth-century Jewish immigrants and, just like the Bnei Moshe, emigrated to Israel after going through conversion.19 According to available data, there were around two thousand Jews in the 2010s.20 However, the 2013 report of the American Jewish Yearbook points out that the data for countries such as Peru is rated ‘D,’ that is, the

18

For a brief period in the 1990s, there was only one burial society or chevra kadisha that belonged to the Jewish Association of Peru. In 2018, there are two Jewish burial societies: one that belongs to the home for the elderly, Bikur Cholim (which, instead, belongs to the Ashkenazi congregation, the Unión Israelita del Perú in partnership with the Sephardic congregation, the Sociedad Israelita de Beneficencia Sefaradí) ,and a second one that belongs to the Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870.

19

See Shavei Israel’s website www.shavei.org. This nonprofit organization supports the groups mentioned here as they enter Israeli society.

20

DellaPergola, “¿Cuántos somos hoy?”; also, DellaPergola, “World Jewish Population,” in The American Jewish Yearbook, vol. 113, ed. Arnold Dashefsky and Ira Sheskin (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013).

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data is imprecise.21 In what follows, I will depict the religious configuration of Jewish Lima according to congregation/immigrant group.

Yekke, Modern and Peripheral: The Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 The first Jewish religious organization in Peru was founded in 1870 by German-speaking Jewish immigrants who had also established the country’s first Jewish cemetery. According to locals,22 their immediate descendants disaffiliated from organized Jewish life and there was a period in which the congregation remained inactive. With a new wave of German-speaking immigrants in the early twentieth century, the congregation was reestablished and became one of the founding congregations of the umbrella organization in 1946. It was originally Orthodox and its members were mainly immigrants. I was told by interviewees that some Jewish immigrants from this congregation arrived in Peru with their German-speaking non-Jewish wives, setting then a precedent for a congregation welcoming interfaith couples. I have not been able to find evidence to confirm such claims, though. By the 1960s, when Yekke immigrants were disappearing and the members of the congregation were mainly Peruvians who did not speak German at all, the congregation decided to reinvent itself and join the Masorti or Conservative movement, which was gathering momentum in Latin America at the time.23 The decision was influenced by the ‘revolution’ taking place in Latin America’s largest Jewish community—that is, in Argentina, led by Rabbi Marshall Meyer. Rabbi Meyer arrived in Argentina from the United States in 1959, bringing with him a more progressive, modernizing version of Judaism.24 Against the backdrop of Rabbi Meyer’s innovations, there was

21

DellaPergola, “World Jewish Population,” 16.

22

Zwilich, Vendedor de chismes.

23

Guillermo Bronstein, ed., Del Holocausto a la vida. Pasado y presente de la 1870 (Lima: Self-published, 2012).

24

Daniel Goldman, “El movimiento conservador en Latinoamérica y el legado del Rabino Marshall Meyer. Un testimonio,” in Avni, DellaPergola, Bejarano, and Senkman, eds., Pertenencia y alteridad, 639-654.

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

a worldview expressing the need for Jews to become part of mainstream society, particularly in the postwar Western world. After affiliating to the Masorti Movement, the Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 edited new prayer books (sidurim), unifying the liturgy and translating portions of the ritual from German into Spanish, thus making the services more accessible to the new generations of Peruvian-born congregants. They also moved a step further towards gender equality by allowing men and women to sit together during services. This custom remains to this day and is one of the most noticeable differences among this and the Orthodox services offered at the other congregations in town. In 1985, the Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 hired Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein, a student of Rabbi Meyer. Rabbi Bronstein was trained at Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, like so many Argentine rabbis leading congregations elsewhere in the Americas. Even though he is not Peru’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Bronstein is Peru’s most visible Jewish leader in the public arena. He is frequently invited to interfaith dialogues and represents Jews and Judaism at interreligious forums. The Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 has remained the most ‘progressive’ Jewish congregation in Peru, even though it is not as egalitarian or progressive as some congregations belonging to the Masorti movement elsewhere. Nevertheless, the Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 is considered the most modernizing and progressive congregation in Peru mainly based on its membership. It is no longer defined solely as a congregation of Yekkes. Instead, it is the congregation gathering more families formed by Jews by birth and Jews by conversion than any other congregation within the Jewish Association of Peru. Mainly, though not exclusively, for this reason it has been the congregation whose membership has, allegedly, increased the most in relative terms in recent years.25 Indeed, when asked about recent changes in Jewish life in Lima, a community leader representing the Sephardi congregation claimed that by the 2010s the Asociación de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 was “like an escape valve for the community. . . . Had it not been for 1870 [the colloquial name for the congregation], the [Jewish] school would not exist anymore.”26

25

Despite the absence of reliable data, interviewees were confident enough to suggest this growth.

26

Interview #19.

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This change in membership—from Yekkes to families formed by Jews by birth and Jews by (non-Orthodox) conversion—is a source of tensions within the Jewish Association of Peru, which tends to adhere to Orthodox Judaism, at least on paper. This is similar to what is going on in other small Jewish Latin American communities, such as Guatemala or Costa Rica, who have in the past couple of decades chosen to identify as Orthodox in order to secure recognition from the Jewish Agency for Israel and other Jewish organizations worldwide. More importantly, this change in membership should also be understood as a strategy for survival insofar as this is a community already falling in fertility rates,27 with growth only explained by immigration, since these small communities usually do not admit converts who are not married to Jews by birth. Affiliating to the Conservative or Masorti Movement, a Jewish denomination proposing the modernization and moderation of some Jewish customs and beliefs, was a strategy aimed at remaining relevant, yet also apart from the other two congregations. This has been clearly expressed in the other two founding congregations’ willingness to set some self-imposed boundaries and question the legitimacy of movements that do not adhere to the Orthodox consensus. For instance, in the twenty-first century, the Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 has its own burial society, whereas the other two founding congregations share one. Also, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was a project to create a unified community center for all three founding congregations. It involved building three synagogues, one next to the other, on the same plot of land. It was meant to save money that the Jewish Association of Peru used to cover security and administrative costs. However, one of the self-proclaimed Orthodox congregations refused to share a plot of land with the Masorti congregation, thus leading the project to fail. Another token of this sense of difference is expressed by the Ashkenazi and Sephardic congregations’ recently declared intention to merge on the grounds of their shared Orthodoxy, overlooking their differences in customs and origins. In this regard, interviewees suggested that former animosities between community leaders from different religious congregations in Lima were

27

Evyatar Friesel, Atlas of Modern Jewish History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990); also, DellaPergola, “¿Cuántos somos hoy?”

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

sometimes handled on a personal level, and that once a new generation assumed leadership positions it became easier to consider the unification of at least two congregations. Before, in the 1990s, some community leaders would even disrespect 1870’s rabbi by addressing him as ‘Mr. Bronstein,’ whereas they would use the title ‘Rabbi’ for the rabbis of both the Unión Israelita del Perú and the Sociedad de Beneficencia Sefaradí.28 Indeed, while revisiting the episode, an interviewee said that some representatives from the Ashkenazi congregation would rather avoid the risk of “contamination” posed by praying in a building next to a Masorti synagogue. Another interviewee, a community leader from the Ashkenazi congregation, said that at the time people were concerned about issues related to Kashrut (observance of dietary laws), assuming that the Masorti congregation would follow a different set of rules.29 As a member of the Masorti congregation suggested during our interview, Limeño Jews are suspicious of the motives a person might have for wanting to convert to Judaism, particularly if said person is not in a relationship with a Jew by birth.30 Conversely, according to her view, affiliates to the Masorti congregation are “less likely to stare” at someone they do not know, that is, they are usually more welcoming to new faces. Hence, the Masorti congregation would always be somewhat relegated since, according to an interviewee, people felt it was “full of converted couples.”31 Another interviewee, one of the few remaining Yekkes, said that members of the Masorti congregation were perceived by other Limeño Jews as “second-class Jews” or even as goyim (non-Jews).”32 However, once the Jewish community center project failed and the Masorti refurbished its old synagogue, they felt “happy to be apart [. . .] and little by little, they [Jews from the other two congregations] are accepting us.”33 The Masorti congregation not only attracts families composed of at least one Jew by conversion, seeking to be part of the community as a whole without having to

28

Interview #16.

29

Interview #25.

30

Interview #26.

31

Interview #13.

32

Interview #3.

33

Interview #3.

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commit to an Orthodox lifestyle, it also attracts ‘expats,’ that is, white-collar immigrants who belonged to non-Orthodox congregations in their countries of origin and have arrived in Lima in the midst of the country’s recent economic growth, beginning in 2003.

Sephardic Rabbis, Ashkenazi Congregants: The Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí The second subgroup of Jewish immigrants is the one that founded the Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí (the Sephardic Society for Israelite Welfare). It is composed of Sephardi Jews, which is Ladino or JudeoSpanish speaking-Jews immigrating from the former Ottoman Empire, and from parts of the North of Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean which were not part of the empire. The first Sephardic immigrants arrived in Peru by way of the Pacific in 1908.34 Between 1920 and 1928, they founded a congregation, the Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí.35 During those first few years, the congregation’s spiritual leader was one of the few immigrants who knew the ritual well. It was only in 1950, after the creation of the Jewish Association of Peru and the consolidation of the Jewish community in Lima, that Sephardic Jews could hire a rabbi in order to lead religious services. Ever since, the Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí has had four rabbis, all of them foreigners. The last of those rabbis, Moroccan émigré Rabbi Abraham Benhamu, arrived in Lima in 1968 and at the time of writing, serves as the Jewish Association of Peru’s chief rabbi. Once he retires, the Sephardic congregations’ services will merge with the Ashkenazi congregation, currently led by a Sephardic rabbi.36 The Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sephardi defines itself as an Orthodox congregation even though its congregants follow a secular lifestyle, just like the overwhelming majority of Limeño Jews. It is affiliated to a Latin American network of Sephardic synagogues, making a point of belonging to a minority ethnic group within Jewish ethnic diversity—due to Ashkenazi numerical majority. 34

Fleischman, “Apuntes para la historia de la inmigración judía en el Perú (1850-1950).”

35

Ibid.; also Trahtemberg, La inmigración judía al Perú 1848-1948.

36

The book was written between 2017 and 2018.

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

The immigration conditions of Sephardic Jews were different from those of Yekke and Ashkenazi Jews. Unlike the latter, Jews coming from the Ottoman Empire had not faced the kind of persecution that Jews from Christian territories had. However, the Young Turk Revolution, the Balkan War, and the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey had a profound effect on the living conditions of Jews in the region and motivated migratory movements in the early twentieth century.37 In addition, Sephardic Jews held a linguistic advantage over Yekkes and Ashkenazi Jews, since for many Sephardi, Judeo-Spanish or Ladino was their native tongue. Others had lived in Western Europe, mostly in France, which might have given them access to an urban culture that allowed them to easily enter Lima’s upper-middle and upper class. The Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí founded a synagogue in the neighborhood of Santa Beatriz, next to Downtown Lima, operating from the 1930s until the 2000s. Santa Beatriz was originally a middleclass residential neighborhood in the proximity of other neighborhoods in which Jews used to live, at least until the 1970s and 1980s. Afterwards, it became a lower-middle class commercial neighborhood. That left the synagogue isolated from the urban spaces occupied by its congregants. Moreover, the threat of international terrorism, particularly after the attacks perpetrated in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994, encouraged the leaders of the Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí to move the synagogue, first to the failed community center in San Isidro and finally to Orrantia del Mar, a few blocks away from the Jewish day school in San Isidro. There are two curious things about the survival of this congregation that deserve to be mentioned. On the one hand, Rabbi Benhamu is the longest serving rabbi in Peru and is the only one that ever lived in a premodern Jewish community, first in Morocco and then in Gibraltar. This makes him the last remaining nexus to a community from which none of its congregants came. On the other hand, he leads religious services according to Sephardic liturgy for a significant amount of Ashkenazi synagogue-goers. Thus, this congregation is experiencing a break between ancestry and customs partly because of the historical break of religion from culture,38 in this

37

Elkin, The Jews of Latin America.

38

Roy, Holy Ignorance, 2.

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particular case caused by immigration and by the “militant reformulation of religion in a secularized space.”39

United . . . Against Them All: the Unión Israelita del Perú Founded between 1923 and 1929 by Ashkenazi immigrants, the Unión Israelita del Perú (Peru’s Israelite Union) is the largest and most influential religious congregation in Jewish Lima. The first Ashkenazi immigrants who settled in independent Peru arrived after World War I by way of the Atlantic. They seem to have spent some time previously in other, more common destinations for transatlantic immigrants to South America, namely, Brazil and Argentina.40 According to interviewees and print sources,41 the most representative group came from Novoselitsa in Bessarabia, whereas another ‘numerous’ group came from Tischewitz, in what is now Poland. The immigration of Ashkenazi Jews was motivated by the persecution and the destruction of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, where Jews suffered from various forms of political instability. The context in which this migratory movement took place, even to remote and unknown destinations such as Peru, was an increased hatred toward Jews. This hatred was connected to the need to protect Christians from the ‘threat’ purported by the relative improvement in the situation of Jews living in the Russian Empire, after getting some access to education and employment opportunities.42 Thus began a period of persecution and antisemitic attacks incited by government officials.43 In addition, an increase in the size of the population in Europe generated a crisis in terms of employment, pushing nearly two million Ashkenazi Jews to immigrate.44 Others left Eastern Europe were motivated by the

39

Ibid.

40

Fleischman, “Apuntes.”

41

Zwillich, Vendedor de chismes; interview #6.

42

Shmuel Ettinger, “The Modern Period,” in Ben-Sasson, ed., A History of the Jewish People.

43

Elkin, The Jews of Latin America.

44

Martin Gilbert, The Routledge Atlas of Jewish History (New York: Routledge, 2010), 76.

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

deteriorating conditions of living in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and World War I.45 Given that there were more Ashkenazi Jews than Jewish immigrants from other origins, Latin American Jewish communities would generally have a dominant Ashkenazi imprint46 that influenced the way in which the host societies would view Jews in their respective towns and cities. In other words, this is one of the bases for the perceived idea that Jews are nonChristian, European whites. In Lima, Ashkenazi immigrants led the efforts to create the umbrella organization that would bring together Jews from different ethnicities and ended up becoming the Jewish Association of Peru. The association would provide Jews in the city with the needed resources to conduct a distinctly Jewish life in a traditionally Catholic country. Indeed, the leaders of the Unión Israelita del Peru were the first ones to hire a rabbi and bring him to Peru. Rabbi Moisés Brener arrived in Peru in the 1930s and served as a rabbi for the Unión Israelita del Perú until the 1960s. He remains a controversial figure to this day, since he is responsible for creating some confusion regarding membership of the community. As the first rabbi to serve in Peru, he was the first authority capable of determining who qualified as a Jew and who did not. In fact, upon his arrival, he found himself with immigrant Jews who had married non-Jewish women and had had non-Jewish children. Rabbi Brener traveled to different towns and cities in Peru and performed circumcisions on many children, thus leading some to believe that they had been legitimately converted to Judaism.47 Had it not been for this particular set of circumstances, the Jewish population of Lima would have been even smaller, threatening the possibility of being sustainable in the long-term. Hence, some old members of the Unión Israelita del Perú would not qualify as Jews from the Orthodox point of view adopted by the congregation later on, that is, from the 1990s onward. This remains a taboo subject with people affiliated to the community because it stresses the contrast between discourse (the explicit choice of Orthodoxy as a religious denomination at the institutional level) and practice (the secular orientation of 45

Elkin, The Jews of Latin America.

46

Ibid.

47

Segal, Jews of the Amazon.

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Limeño Jews, including community affiliates and leadership) that seems to permeate Jewish organized community life in Lima. Aside from Rabbi Moisés Brener, who has been the longest serving rabbi at the Unión Israelita (serving for thirty years), the Ashkenazi congregation hired a series of short-term rabbis until the late 1980s, when it hired Rabbi Yaacov Kraus, Peru’s first dati-leumi (Orthodox nationalist) rabbi. 48 The arrival of Rabbi Kraus marked also the introduction of the religious revival of Judaism in Peru. His leadership signaled an era of increasing awareness in terms of what it really meant to live a life of Orthodox religious observance in the late twentieth century. For instance, under his supervision, a grocery store selling kosher goods run by the Unión Israelita del Perú, opened for the first time. This was of enormous significance, since observing the laws of Kashrut49 reveals a symbolic adherence to Judaism that is visible and can be publicly acknowledged by others. Also, a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) was built. Hence, for the first time, there were some basic conditions allowing some families to include Orthodox-oriented religious practices in their daily lives. The task undertaken by Rabbi Kraus was not just the product of his creativity: it stems from the “deprivatization of modern religion”50 or the return of religion to the public sphere, in this case, in Israel, Peru, and other places around the world and the return of religiosity as a reaction to the perceived rejection of religion by secularizing agents, and as a by-product of the alienation of religion from culture.51 In addition, during the 1990s, Rabbi Kraus used to address the community through opinion pieces published in a periodical edited by the Unión Israelita del Perú. His pieces usually addressed topics on the observance of Orthodox Judaism at an introductory level, showing how he

48

On the Israeli-Jewish religious denomination known as ‘Religious Zionism’ (to which ‘religious nationalists’ in Israel usually belong), see Eliezer Don-Yehiya, “Messianism and Politics: The Ideological Transformation of Religious Zionism,” Israel Studies 19, no. 2 (2014): 239-263; also, Dov Schwartz, Religious-Zionism: History and Ideology (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2008).

49

Kashrut is a Hebrew noun that means ‘fitness.’ It refers to the set of laws guiding the preparation and consumption of food according to rabbinic and biblical sources.

50

Casanova, Public Religions, 43.

51

Roy, Holy Ignorance.

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

believed his readership lacked the necessary tools to understand and follow a religious lifestyle as it was being established in Israel. They also show the need to stress the value of leading a religious life in the context of postsecularization. One of his pieces, for instance, focuses on dress and modesty according to (Orthodox) Judaism, whereas another one discusses the controversial and delicate issue of conversion, advocating for the exclusive legitimacy of Orthodox conversion. Rabbi Kraus left Peru in the mid-2000s, yet the Unión Israelita del Perú continued hiring religious nationalist rabbis, some of them even Sephardi. This, I found, is an expression of the cultural and religious dependence of a small Jewish community on larger Jewish centers, such as the transnational relationships with Israel, Argentina or, to a lesser extent, the United States. Despite of the secular lifestyle of the community’s leadership and the overwhelming majority of affiliates, and despite the contested decisions of the first rabbis the community ever ha, twenty-first-century Orthodox rabbis do not seem unenthusiastic about to Lima and serve a secular congregation. The Unión Israelita del Perú was not always the Orthodox stronghold it now claims to be. The congregation was born out of the association of rivaling Ashkenazi services. In the 1950s, it split into two congregations just when it was about to build a new synagogue. The conflict arose out of the location of the new synagogue, led by two prominent industrial men, both very wealthy and powerful among the community, who also disagreed in terms of their political stances regarding Zionism. One of them, sympathetic to center-right Zionism, proposed building the synagogue in the exclusive, upper-class neighborhood of San Isidro, developed just a couple of decades earlier. The other one, sympathetic to left-wing, Labor Zionism wanted the synagogue to be built in the middle-class neighborhood of Jesus Maria, on a plot of land acquired years earlier by the congregation, in the proximity of the areas where most Jews lived in at the time. The disagreement resulted in the creation of two Ashkenazi congregations, each with its own synagogue and services: a smaller, more exclusive one in San Isidro, called Centro Social y Cultural Sharon, allegedly serving the ‘VIPs,’ and the other in the middle-class neighborhood of Jesús María, serving the members of The Unión Israelita del Perú. It all made sense during those postwar prosperous years: the Jewish community in Lima was growing in size and great projects were undertaken in the 1950s, namely, a new building for the recently created Jewish day school and a Jewish sports club, the latter on

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land donated by a powerful Sephardic businessman.52 This period was one of economic growth as well.53 This process of growth and expansion—and division, as well—went in the opposite direction by the 1980s. With many people leaving the country due to economic and political unrest, there was no point in keeping two competing Ashkenazi services for a shrinking community. Therefore, in the 1990s both congregations reunited after a thirty-year division, as The Unión Israelita del Peru purchased the synagogue built by that visionary businessman who paved the way for Limeño Jews to settle in San Isidro, just a few blocks away from the fanciest and most exclusive golf and country clubs in town. Following this process of optimization of resources, in 2016 community leaders from The Unión Israelita del Perú considered merging with their peers at the Sociedad de Beneficencia Sefaradí to merge into one congregation. At the time of writing this book (the summer of 2018), both congregations held separate services at separate buildings. In fact, The Unión Israelita del Peru has been hiring Sephardic rabbis for the past few years, thus signaling a new era insofar as ethnic differences among Jews in Lima seem to be disappearing in favor of a globalized form of Orthodoxy, a religious denomination independent of cultural legacy54 as the main element of differentiation among Jews in Peru.

Transnational Emissaries: Chabad Lubavitch In the late 1980s, a representative of the international, ultraorthodox movement, Chabad Lubavitch, arrived in Lima. As a dynastic organization, it originated in the wider, eighteenth-century Hasidic movement that reacted to the partition of Poland, focusing on intellectualism and previously failed messianic movements, among other things.55 52

Zwilich, Vendedor de chismes.

53

Rosemary Thorp and Geoffrey Bertram, Perú: 1890-1977. Crecimiento y políticas en una economía abierta (Lima: Universidad del Pacífico, 2013), 325.

54

Olivier Roy argues that modern religiosity is autonomous in that it does not seem to depend on cultural markers (such as language, territory, customs, etc). See Roy, Holy Ignorance, 11.

55

Howard M. Sachar, The Course of Modern Jewish History (New York: Vintage, 1990), 67.

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

The Hasidic movement as a whole, which combined Jewish mysticism with charismatic leadership, “was successful because it went from being exclusively concerned with the religious revival of people to being a model of social and religious organization on mystic grounds.”56 From this new form of social organization emerged Chabad Lubavitch, a more ‘intellectual’ rendition of the movement in Poland. After World War II, Chabad Lubavitch relocated to the United States, establishing its headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. Among the innovations fostered by the contemporary version of the movement, the creation of a network of global envoys in charge of bringing secular Jews back into the religious fold is the most salient one. Peru’s representative, Brazilian-born Schneur Zalman ‘Uri’ Blumenfeld, is one of those envoys and has been in Lima for over twenty-five years. Chabad Lubavitch does not belong to the Jewish Association of Peru, though. It operates as a satellite of the global organization rather than as a Jewish Peruvian religious congregation. It is supported by a donor who belongs to, and has been an active leader of, the Unión Israelita del Perú. Chabad offers services that compete with those offered by the Jewish Association of Peru, such as shchitá (animal slaughter), prayer services, kosher goods, Torah lessons, and so forth. Considering that this is already a very small ‘market’ for religious goods and services, Chabad activities are sometimes the cause of tensions among the organized Jewish community in Lima. Every now and then, Chabad hands out free utensils and foods used to celebrate festivities such as Purim, Passover, or Hanuka among households affiliated to the Jewish Association of Peru. It also distributes pamphlets with contents related to their doctrine, featuring an ideal, premodern, traditional Jewish society, promoting the observance of religious precepts as dictated by rabbinic authorities. Ultimately, it proposes an extreme version of Jewish life in comparison to the actual living conditions of Jews in Lima. That same doctrine lies at the bottom of its exclusion (or lack of an invitation to be included) from the Jewish Association of Peru, since it explicitly opposes the relative plurality underneath the umbrella organization.

56

Rachel Elior, Los orígenes místicos del jasidismo (Buenos Aires: Lilmod, 2010): 25. The translation into English is mine.

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Notwithstanding the resurgence and polarization of Judaism in countries such as Argentina57 and Brazil, Chabad Lubavitch has had only moderate success in Lima. Some of its congregants are people who have had conflicts with the leadership at the Jewish Association of Peru. It also attracts people looking for ‘restoration’ and guidance having suffered some sort of setback. It is also an alternative for people who would rather not affiliate to the Jewish Association of Peru, since Chabad relies on donations, not on yearly or monthly fees. It has also been joined by new immigrants and foreigners who attend Orthodox services in their countries of origin. The presence and permanence of Chabad Lubavitch adds to the heterogeneity of the original configuration of the community. It also provides Lima’s Jewish religious market with global and cosmopolitan elements, contrasting the efforts for achieving rootedness and authenticity of the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century immigrant-founded organizations. Stricto sensu, Chabad Lubavitch is the most explicit form of the religious revival, at least in Lima because it appears somewhat decoupled from the founding immigrant narrative.

Jewish Religious Supply in Lima The organized Jewish community in Lima is small and yet heterogeneous. Its heterogeneity was originally based on the ethnic origins of Jewish immigrants to Peru arriving between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century. Currently, this heterogeneity revolves around religious denomination, even though the system of beliefs and practices of congregants is defined, to a large extent, by class interests and values. Nevertheless, in the context of religious revivalism and the return of religion to the public sphere, contrasting views in terms of ‘Jews by conversion’ seem enough to justify the effort of keeping three or even four religious services (considering Chabad’s) for a largely secular population. Despite the nostalgia of community leaders, the surviving congregations that were once founded by immigrants are not model attempts at transplanting the communities of origin of the immigrants. Instead, the process of root-

57

On Chabad’s appeal in Argentina, see Damian Setton, “Judíos ortodoxos y sus representaciones del espacio público y privado,” in Religión y espacio público, ed. Catalina Romero (Lima: PUCP, 2008).

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

edness and Peruvian-ness has reaffirmed and redefined the terms under which Limeños adhere to Judaism. It is noteworthy that the most influential congregation, the one that will result from the merger between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi synagogues, is Orthodox and that even the most ‘progressive’ congregation in Lima is in many ways closer to Orthodoxy than to progressive Judaism. In the twenty-first century, women are still absent from the bimah (the podium at synagogue) and from the decision-making table, as there are no female community leaders or spiritual ones. Yet, there are highly trained Jewish women who could easily perform as community leaders. In reality, women are usually seen leading fundraising projects through more typically female activities such as bake or flower sales. Perhaps the most progressive measure that sets both groups (Orthodox and Masorti) apart is the membership criteria for converts who marry Jews by birth, the portion of the population that actually injects the community with new souls. Hence, this small community is, overall, denominationally Orthodox, despite its population being secular. In other words, the lifestyle and rules set by this denomination are only appealing to fewer than a dozen families. In fact, the average congregant does not observe the Jewish festivities and precepts, nor does she keep Kashrut. Why, then, is Orthodoxy so central to its identity? I found that the centrality of Orthodoxy, particularly since the 1990s, is neither accidental nor exclusive to this case. It is part of the process of postsecularization in which religious symbols have acquired renewed value and have become available in the context of globalization. The 1990s were also a decade marked by neoliberal policies and open markets in Peru. Accordingly, there began an era of globalization, a by-product of which was an increased access to religious goods and services, such as kosher certified products, Israeli rabbis, and Argentinean teachers. Moreover, as cosmopolitanism becomes valued and ‘postnational’ forms of citizenship emerge,58 adhering to the most ‘authentic’ religious symbols is also a way of legitimizing this small community’s position in a global network and using that position to strengthen its status at home, that is, establishing itself as a transnational religious community, or even better, a “First World minor-

58

Soysal, “Changing Citizenship in Europe.”

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ity in the context of a Third World nation.”59 Furthermore, since Jewish immigrants to Peru were already secular before setting foot in the Americas, choosing Orthodoxy seems like a way in which this community aims at reinventing itself while partially preserving the immigrant legacy in a context that vindicates some minorities. Indeed, Orthodoxy means stronger ties to the Jewish State through the Jewish Agency for Israel; and it also means having to depend on the cultural and religious guidance of other communities, itself an act of ‘internationalization.’ This is held together mainly by an implicit agreement between the Orthodox and Conservative rabbis hired by the community leadership and accepted by the congregants. This unwritten agreement sets the following expectation: rabbis are supposed to embody everything ‘religious’ and are meant to make religion available for congregants to consume, whenever they feel like it. Congregants are not expected to observe religion. In return, these rabbis are paid the salary of an expatriate executive and, most importantly, Orthodoxy and the Conservative movement remain relevant and can claim to have another thriving transnational branch. This discrepancy between the denomination of the congregation and the lifestyle of congregants is not exclusive to Peru or to other small Latin American communities. However, larger communities usually encompass a wider array of Jewish denominations, from Ultraorthodoxy to progressive Judaism, thus adjusting them to the religious plurality of Judaism around the world. In contrast, less numerous and less diverse communities, such as Lima’s, allow Jews to affiliate without neglecting the lifestyle of the upper classes. This favors the integration of Jews into the upper classes although it does not necessarily foster Judaism’s integration into the city’s cultural milieu. In the meantime, while Judaism as a religion has remained only slightly visible in Peru, this arrangement between Orthodox institutions and secular congregants becomes evident in an invisible entry barrier for new groups of Peruvian Jews wishing to enter the Jewish community. These new groups of Jews by conversion come mainly from provinces other than Lima and from the lower-middle classes. And unlike most Limeño Jews, once they convert, they actually observe Jewish religion according to the rule

59

Klein, Kosher Feijoada, 201.

2. Orthodox-ish: Religious Judaism in Lima

of Orthodoxy. Thus, their lifestyle is completely foreign and somewhat incompatible to that of upper-middle class, secular Limeño Jews. This would be the case of the Bnei Moshe community, formed by Peruvian citizens who cannot claim Jewish descent yet converted to Judaism motivated by a change in religious conviction, from Catholicism to Judaism, through Protestantism. Another such case is the Amazon Jews, who are partly descendants from Jewish immigrants and, like the Bnei Moshe, have made aliyah after converting to Judaism.60 The discrepancy between the Orthodox identity of the congregations and the actual practice of congregants is also sustainable as long as the community remains small in size. In this setting, religion and culture tend to mix.61 Hence, in the process of Limeño Jewish rootedness, specifically Limeño forms of Jewishness have emerged, combining local elements with the transnational religious packages delivered by rabbis and teachers imported from abroad, therefore shaping Jewish religious life in the city.

60

See Shavei Israel’s website, www.shavei.org.

61

Roy, Holy Ignorance.

69

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Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

Alongside the religious congregations, the most solid institution under the umbrella of the Jewish Association of Peru is the only Jewish day school in Peru, Colegio León Pinelo. It is important to analyze it, since it was established during the community’s consolidation period, in 1946, shortly after the Jewish Association of Peru. Hence, it has also gone through the most significant changes of the first seventy years of organized community life. The school provides affiliates to the Jewish Association of Peru with educational services. For the first couple of years, it operated in the working-class neighborhood of Breña. It then moved to Jesús María, a residential, middle-class neighborhood and finally, in the mid-1950s, it moved to its current building, designed to fit its specific purposes and built by a Peruvian Jewish engineer belonging to the first generation of Peruvian-born, Jewish university graduates. The school is located in the upper-class district of San Isidro, where the headquarters of the Jewish Association of Peru and the two synagogues owned by the Ashkenazi and Sephardic congregations respectively are also located. The school belongs to the three founding religious congregations of the Jewish Association of Peru. Each founding congregation owns an equal part of the school, even though the Ashkenazi congregation has always had a significantly larger affiliation. In this chapter I will argue that the school is the main socializing agent for Jewish life in Peru, and that it reveals that the most important changes this community has gone through and gives meaning to what it means to be simultaneously Limeño and Jewish.

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

The school’s role in the preservation of social differences is perhaps stronger than that of religious agents, since class affinity is stressed throughout school years. The school is also one of the most important, if not the most important, institution in terms of creating and strengthening ties with Israel and Jewish identification. Colegio León Pinelo, the only Jewish day school in Peru, was created by the Zionist Federation of Peru in the mid-1940s. For this reason, it has had more of a Zionist imprint than a religious one. Before its creation, Jewish children of school age attended good schools that would allow non-Catholic students, because public education in Peru was not considered good enough and those who could afford it would rather send their children to private schools. The best private schools in Peru until the 1930s were Catholic, with Protestant schools next in line. For example, a French Catholic, nun-led school was among the common options for the first Sephardic girls to go to in Lima in the 1920s and 1930s. Some Ashkenazi girls went to a Methodist high school and boys attended a school founded by the Free Church of Scotland, even after the creation of the Jewish school. Indeed, there were always Jewish children attending other schools, although according to interviewees, after the 1950s most Jewish children attended the Jewish day school. The Jewish day school in Lima was founded at about the same time that the city’s most prestigious private schools were. For instance, Lima’s American school, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was also founded in the 1940s; the British Peruvian San Silvestre school officially opened its doors in the late 1930s; the British school Markham was founded in the mid-1940s. In contrast, prestigious Catholic schools serving the upper classes were founded at the end of the nineteenth century, such as Colegio de los Sagrados Corazones de la Recoleta, the Jesuit Colegio de la Inmaculada, and at the beginning of the twentieth century Colegio San Agustín and Colegio Villa María. The Jewish school in Lima was founded at about the same time that private secular education was being expanded in Lima, thus satisfying the educational needs of a changing middle and upper-middle urban class. This trend was confirmed in the next decades, with an explosion of demand for private schooling that created a market that led for-profit schools to open in the age of liberalization, from the 1990s onward. In this context, the proliferation of secular private schools has made it easier for Jewish families to send their children to other, nonreligious schools. This situation has become a source of concern for Jewish leaders in Lima.

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In addition to the Jewish school’s competition from more prestigious schools, Lima’s Jewish population shrank noticeably between the 1980s and 1990s. Despite a dwindling student body, the school continues to operate because it provides the social and religious forms of differentiation that are highly valued by a significant group of Limeño Jewish families and, more recently, by expats and new immigrants. How did it all begin?

Enough Jews to Open a School and Then . . . Just Barely In 1945, a working committee in charge of creating a ‘Hebrew’ school was created. It included six Businessmen, two Physicians and an envoy from the Jewish Agency for Israel. Funding for the project was granted by the Jewish Association of Peru (at the moment, called Association of Israelite Societies). In addition to community-led efforts, the school became a reality with the support of non-Jewish intellectuals who sympathized with the Jewish cause. These intellectuals met the first generation of Jewish university students at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM), at the moment, Peru’s top university in Law and Medicine, the preferred careers of Jewish young men who got a college education at the time. For example, the involvement of UNMSM Professor Manuel Beltroy, was key to the project’s success. In fact, it was him who suggested that the name of the school be León Pinelo, a Rector (University Chancellor) at UNMSM during Colonial times. The Pinelo brothers, Diego and León, were crypto-Jews in Colonial Peru, a piece of information possibly unknown to twentieth-century immigrant Jews and certainly mesmerizing to Beltroy. According to Beltroy’s daughter, who wrote a memoir, Beltroy was “always obsessed with religion and, on the other hand, seemed like a very convinced atheist.”1 Perhaps this position made it easier for him, in comparison to other, more Catholic intellectuals, to support the Jewish cause. His daughter also claims that Beltroy used to refer to himself as “the wandering Jew of culture.” 2 Connections made between Jewish students and professors at UNMSM in the 1940s rendered fruitful: they proved crucial for persuading Peruvian 1

Juana María Beltroy de Mugaburu, Vida y obra del Dr. Manuel Beltroy (Lima: Selfpublished, 2001), n. n. page (the original manuscript, a Xerox copy I found at a university library, had no page numbers in it).

2

Ibid.

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

diplomats at the UN to vote in favor of the Partition of Palestine since some of these same Law professors worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In parallel, these professors had influential acquaintances at the Ministry of Education, thus helping in the creation of the first and only Jewish day school of Peru. Both events, the UN vote and the creation of the Jewish day school, provided a sense of stability and reliability for immigrant Jews in Peru. Jewish life in the city was becoming public, institutional and most importantly, Peruvian. In 1946, a year before the Partition Plan and two years before the creation of the Jewish State, Colegio León Pinelo was founded in Lima. It opened in the working-class neighborhood of Breña, where most Jews lived at the time. The Jewish day school in Lima combines the contents of the mandatory national curriculum with the following set of Jewish educational experiences: Hebrew language, Jewish religion and festivities, Jewish history, Bible learning, the celebration of Israel’s Day of Independence (Yom Ha-Atzmaut) and the Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Ha-Shoah). Hence, the Jewish day school allows observant and secular Jewish families to preserve some traits of social differentiation without experiencing the effects of being an actual cultural and religious minority, as would be the case of Jewish students at Catholic, Christian and even secular institutions. Aside from its socializing role, Jewish contents provide students with a transnational connection that is highly valuable. The school also includes English as a second language and has recently become IB-certified, sometimes at the expense of reducing hours usually devoted to Hebrew and Judaic activities. Yet, the most salient feature the school has is its relatively recent disengagement from Peruvian-ness, as can be inferred from its mission statement: To provide an educational and integral framework that allows for children and young Jews to learn, preserve and consolidate Judaism, its values, its rites and customs, and the historical-cultural-national (sic) legacy of the Jewish people as well. Therefore, the educational center’s axiology is that of Judaism and of Jewish education3

The absence of references to Peru or Peruvian-ness—either expressed through the school’s lists of values or its depiction of their ideal student, is

3

Colegio León Pinelo, mission statement, accessed June 9, 2021, http://www.lp.edu.pe/.

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telling of an aspiration towards transnationality, cosmopolitanism and status. This is also shown by the Unión Israelita del Peru’s newest institutional logo, sporting a Magen David and a Sefer Torah, and the phrase “Proud of being Jewish!” This, in a city in which Judaism remains invisible and where various meanings of Peruvian-ness might conflict these aspirations. The school’s response, as an institution within the Jewish Association of Peru, would be to create a Jewish enclave in an overwhelmingly non-Jewish city. In order to attend the day school, ideally the father but sometimes the mother or a tutor of a prospective student must demonstrate affiliation to one of the religious congregations of the Jewish Association of Peru. This is meant to guarantee an exclusively Jewish student body, according to religious categories. However, throughout its history, the school has had a small number of students from other cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds who do not qualify as Jews according to Orthodoxy. The school also fulfills a different role. Unlike what might be the case with Jewish day schools operating in cities with large Jewish populations, affiliation is a prerequisite for families who want to send their children to the Jewish day school in Lima. Thus, the school guarantees some affiliation, that of families with school-aged children. The Jewish day school is expected to educate children towards Jewish identification. Given this community’s inability to issue Jewish cultural products on its own, the school is one of the most important nexus the Jewish Association of Peru has with the State of Israel, through the Jewish Agency. The Agency sends envoys (shlichim) that come to Lima for a period between two and four years. They usually work as Hebrew, religion and Jewish history teachers, also organizing activities aimed at young Jews. This situation makes the school dependent on the Jewish Agency as this small community does not foster training teachers in Jewish Studies nor rabbis. In fact, most teachers at the Jewish day school are Peruvian non-Jews, some of whom have spent almost their entire careers at the school and have developed emotional ties towards the Jewish community in Lima and an appreciation of Jewish culture and the State of Israel. There are, of course, Jewish families who are increasingly sending their children to other schools while still remaining affiliated and active community members. Nevertheless, the school continues to be a key instrument in terms of Jewish socialization, not only because of its stress on Jewish identification but rather, given the social ties it creates among its students. Indeed, the school fosters its own form of identification and affinity among

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

Limeño Jews,4 beyond religion, immigrant experiences or a shared sense of disarray. As is the case with many middle-class and upper-middle class Peruvians, the Jewish school too creates and reproduces that kind of network.

The School as a Limeño Version of Jewishness In 1968, a special edition of Colegio Leon Pinelo’s yearbook appeared. It is a rich source for assessing ideals, aspirations and other elements that were modeling Jewish life two decades after the Jewish Association of Peru was first founded. The document commemorated twenty-two years since the school first opened its doors, back in 1946. It seemed like a good moment to take a ‘picture’ of an important part of Jewish life in Lima, twenty years after the creation of the Jewish State in Israel and about a year after its consolidation as a military power in the aftermath of the Six Day War. The document was issued in the midst of a series of vindications and by the social and cultural movements of the 1960s and most importantly from the point of view of Jews, by the recognition awarded by the Catholic Church to non-Christian denominations after the Second Vatican Council. The yearbook was published a few weeks before the military coup of 1968, one of the landmarks of Peru’s recent social and political history. Unlike the previous multiple instances of military coups, this time the army intervened as a left-wing nationalist force, signaling the crisis of Peru’s oligarchy.5 One of the iconic social reforms of the twentieth century in Peru came to pass under this government: the Agrarian Reform. It aimed at democratizing the country by means of redistributing wealth and empowering the peasants and the working class. Also by the end of the 1960s, the Jewish day school already had the children of its first graduates among its students, proving, just like the State of Israel, that it was a long-term, successful project. An analysis of the advertisement included in the yearbook reveals a strong English or American commercial influence in middle and upper-middle class Lima, just before the coup. The ads show the ubiquitousness of imported goods and they also show a significant number of businesses featuring English-sounding names, either because they are branches of transnational companies

4

This has been already noted by Ariel Segal. See Ariel Segal, The Jews of the Amazon.

5

Peter Klaren, Nación y sociedad en la historia del Perú (Lima: IEP, 2004).

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or because English names confer status. For example, there is an ad for a renowned brand of cashmere textiles created by a powerful Jewish businessman, Michel Radzinsky, who was also one of the leaders at the Unión Israelita del Perú. Radzinsky had a non-Jewish partner, Adolfo Barrios, with whom the brand Barrington, an anglicized version of ‘Barrios,’ was created in 1953. The brand was meant to compete with suits that were being imported from England.6 Advertisements published at the special edition of the yearbook belong to the following business activities: industry (manufacture, mostly textile); commercial (import/export, retail); services (health, banking, etc.). The ads portray upper-middle class habits and aspirations: there are ads from airlines, restaurants, banks, furniture stores, insurance companies, jewelers, catering services, telecommunications, and so forth. There are also ads exhibiting some of the business areas where Jews were relatively prominent: garments, fishing (fish meal), metallurgy, health clinics, plastics, mattresses, etc. In addition, some sponsors are independent donors who do not advertise products or services. The yearbook is written in Spanish, showing how the languages of immigrants were not preserved by the first generation of Peruvian-born Jews, possibly due to the reduced number of speakers, to an early need to interact with society at large and also relevant, to them being the direct descendants of an already secularized immigrant group. Indeed, the text contains but a few religious references throughout; instead, it is filled with Zionist ones. Zionism appears as the collaborative effort of the men behind the establishment of the school, and to those editing the text, this event seems somehow connected to other Jewish events taking place elsewhere. In that vein, the editorial letter claims the following: “we want to set the record straight once more, proving what Zionism can do for Eretz Israel and for all of us.”7 Thus, the national element of Jewish identification, Zionism, fits better than religion in the narrative that seeks to harmonize a heterogeneous immigration story and weak ties to the places of origin, with the new destination (Peru). It also works as a shared concern and source of pride and belonging, particularly as this notion of Jewish nation6

Orlando Bardales, “Marcando el paso,” Ellos & Ellas (supplement to Caretas, 2013). http://ellosyellas.com.pe/reportajes/reportajes-internacionales/ marcando-el-paso-aafb#.U_4jUfldXjg.

7

Anuario del Colegio León Pinelo (Lima: Colegio León Pinelo, 1968), 9.

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

alism became increasingly public whereas religious considerations, to some extent, were expected to become private. The school, then, was thought of as a major achievement, interpreted as part of a larger effort to preserve Jewish life all over the world. For instance, the text includes a ‘vintage’ testimony from the 1940s written by an immigrant Jewish teacher. The testimony associates the Jewish children of Peru with the children that were murdered by the Nazi genocide in Europe. This also imagines a connection between a transnational past, as a group with an immigrant culture, and a national future. The sense of responsibility from one another is also implicit in the testimony. It is in this sense that a Jewish day school could have been perceived of as an achievement, at least for the immigrant generation. In the course of the interviews I conducted as part of this research, the school was one of the unavoidable subjects of conversation. The other one was intermarriage. Both appeared associated with the threat of extinction Judaism has faced and as a response to new forms of Jewish culture. In the words of a 1940s teacher, “that is why I felt great relief in finding myself in front of a group of children in a classroom at the small Jewish school, representing a piece of Zion taken to the remoteness of Peru.”8 Another Jewish teacher asks in an essay that presents a counterfactual history, “what would be the future of Jews in Lima without Hebrew [lessons], without praying, without history, without religion?”9 Again, a parallel is established between the founders of the Jewish State of Israel and the parents who send their children to the Jewish day school in this small community in Latin America. The essay is titled ‘Time to Make History,’ once more associating the events that were changing the status of Jews during the second half of the twentieth century with the consolidation of the community in Peru, represented by the success the Jewish day school had in Lima as it became one of the most prestigious private schools in the city. It is interesting to contrast the essays written by Jewish actors—teachers, community leaders—to those of non-Jewish actors. The former focus on how proud they all felt by having created a Jewish day school as the condition of Jews improved in many places around the world, particularly

8

Ibid., 14.

9

Ibid., 18.

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in Israel. The latter, instead, focus on the prestige the school had acquired early on, and on the good academic performance of the students. One of the essays is written by a non-Jewish teacher who would soon become school principal, a position he would have for many years. In his own words, “it is now customary for them [the students] to occupy the first positions at the universities they apply and are admitted to.”10 The testimony of an English teacher, also non-Jewish, attests to these salient results by saying that “in the 21 years that I have spent at the school I have only been able to appreciate a collective will for improvement.”11 The yearbook offers a peek at the community in the 1960s by including charts describing the careers followed by school graduates between 1955 and 1965, that is, after the first ten student cohorts graduated. According to the document, most graduates from this sample studied engineering.12 The pride felt by the community regarding this professional trend is stressed by one picture included in the document, in which the class graduating in 1962 pose next to a math teacher carrying with them geometry measurement tools. The picture implies that one of the students was a mathematical prodigy as the next picture shows that same student getting a golden T rule, an award granted by Peru’s National University of Engineering to the student with the highest marks. In fact, engineering became the most valued career for first-generation Peruvian Jews, at least from the point of view of the yearbook’s editors. The remarks made by an alumnus from the class of 1965 who made aliyah (emigrated to Israel) after having been involved in one of the Zionist youth movements, suggest this is the case. On his contribution, the student jokingly states that “he was going to become an Engineer [referring to one of his classmates] because he was told that Engineering was for the ‘brainy’ and he couldn’t possibly choose one of those denigrating careers on the Humanities, since they are career for women.”13 The ironic tone parodies how young students were choosing their careers at the time, based on the kind of businesses the ‘uncles’—that is, adult friends of their parents and relatives from their parents’ generation—owned, showing how closely knit these ties 10

Ibid., 21.

11

Ibid., 31.

12

Ibid., 27.

13

Ibid., 77.

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

were and how solidarity worked among Jewish men. The parody ends with a story, which goes as follows: a good student from the prestigious Jewish school who had considered studying engineering, gets into the School of Medicine at Universidad Nacional de San Marcos, earning the first place at the admissions entrance test, only to sell textiles in downtown Lima as the ‘president of the board’ of his father’s shop. If taken to be descriptive of some reality, the parody indicates that not everybody would fulfil the ‘Jewish dream’ of upward social mobility through professional career training whereas commerce would prevail as the leading activity among Jewish men. Making a point of the notion of engineering as a desirable field for middle-class Jews, a picture of students next to a teacher is included with the following caption: “Moreh [the teacher] and the future engineers.”14 Aside from the school’s 1968 yearbook, I reviewed two other yearly magazines which unlike the document mentioned above, were edited by senior year students. The magazines were published by the end of the school years of 1968 and 1969, respectively. The contributions show the concerns that could be voiced by the students through these outlets at the time. The 1968 edition contains two essays on the political and commercial relations between Peru and Israel: one essay discusses the postcolonial tension between westernization and ‘traditionalism’ in Peru and the other wonders whether women are really the second or ‘weak’ sex (and the answer, in the negative, is based on the status of women in Israel, without a single mention of the situation of women in Peru). There is also an essay comparing the situation of Jews in the USSR and that of Jews in Peru. If this compilation of student productions reflects least what a group of students (their parents and their teachers) thought acceptable to share in print, then of Peru and Peruvian-ness is viewed as a premodern indigenous otherness. Conversely, the transnational bond with Israel and the feeling of being part of the vindication of world Jewry is all the stronger after the military accomplishments of Israel in the aftermath of the Six Day War. The magazine that appeared in 1969, after the first year of the military coup of Juan Velasco Alvarado and after the May 1968 protests and several other movements that questioned authority worldwide, is a bit less conservative. Each year, the graduating class chooses two or three names

14

Moreh is a Hebrew term for ‘teacher.’ It is the way León Pinelo students usually address their teachers, whether Jewish or not.

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of people they want to honor by carrying their name. The class of 1968 chose the name of the ‘adult’ Zionist thinker, ‘Ahad Ha-Am.’ The class of 1969, however, chose the name of the young leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Mordechai Anielewicz. This was not a fortuitous choice: the main theme of the 1969 magazine is youth and the issue features essays on the revolutionary events taking place worldwide in the late 1960s. The magazine includes a text written by someone renowned within the community who was also involved in literary production. In 1969, he was in his fifties, addressing the ‘problem of youth and youth problems.’ His essay introduces a concern shared by the older generation, as the author claims that “youth, in our case, Jewish youth, is facing the great challenge of defining their Jewish identity in a cosmopolitan world; of understanding and participating in the scientific and spiritual revolution of this half of the century.”15 These bits of the official discourse of the Jewish community in Lima as represented by its key socializing agency, points at reinforcing Jewish identification without rejecting the secular, contemporary world. The challenge Limeño Jews seemed to be facing, according to this discourse, was keeping this peculiar form of identity as new generations came of age living under different conditions to those of immigrants, given that by the 1970s Jews were citizens ‘like everyone else,’ or perhaps better than many, since keeping a transnational and cosmopolitan form of identification was and is valued by the elites because it distinguishes them from impoverished and excluded citizens. The magazine contains another text reflecting on Jewish youth, this time discussing the issue of religiosity. The essay is authored by a senior student, who boldly claims that “the youth has distanced itself from the Jewish religious camp,”16 thus denouncing the immigrant generation for not having offered the first and second generation of Peruvian-born Jews religious Jewish education in order to avoid the officially frightening ‘assimilation.’17 There is, of course, an idealized image of the immigrants by this writer, whom he describes as “men from the Cheder or the Yeshiva.”18 15

Various, Revista Pinelito (Lima: Colegio León Pinelo, 1969), 29.

16

Ibid., 38.

17

Ibid., 39.

18

Ibid.

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

The author seems to imagine that Jewish religious training was available to everyone in their premigratory context; it was not. The cheder (literally, ‘room’ in Hebrew) is the premodern version of primary school in Jewish religious education and the yeshiva was a Jewish religious ‘institute’ for the study of Talmud. These forms of Jewish religious training, particularly the yeshiva, were only available to young men talented enough to have the ability to study traditional sources as a living, while their communities, families, and, especially, their wives worked to support themselves and the yeshiva students. Hence, it is likely that only one or two men who emigrated to Peru had received that kind of education, if any at all. Indeed, had a yeshiva ‘graduate’ arrived in Peru, he would have probably sought to settle someplace else in the Americas, where religious life was a bit less impossible. This idealized image, though, creates a contrasts between an imagined past where Jewish culture would freely flourish and be available for those exposed to it, and the dry reality of Jewish Lima, in which Judaism was perhaps only possible as a form of (trans)national identity granting social status, rather than as a continued form of religious lifestyle. Therefore, a new dilemma is formulated, since Orthodox Jewish religious education stands in contrast to the emphasis on ‘Science and Engineering’ that is needed in order to remain part of the upper-middle and upper classes. Yet, the feeling of having lost an opportunity, and a sense of cultural vacuum, derives from the conditions under which religion is a private and individual matter.

A Shrinking Population The 1968 special edition of the school’s yearbook offers yet another interesting piece of information: by 1968 the school had around nine hundred enrolled students. In fact, community leaders expected the student population to grow, as suggested through an essay written by the president of the Parents Association, stating that “the progressive increase in students is becoming overwhelming.”19 Paradoxically, the changes that would come about from 1968 onward, after the economic reform launched by the military government, motivated several families to leave the country. Hence,

19

Anuario del Colegio León Pinelo, 47.

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the student population of the Jewish day school in Lima shrank significantly, to about a third of what it was in the 1970s. This change in size began to be noticeable in the 1990s, and threatened the continuity of the school. Not everyone left the country due to political or economic reasons: some people studied abroad, in the United States or Israel, and did not come back because economic and professional opportunities were hard to come by in Peru, in comparison to North America. The children of those who left the country (even before the military dictatorship) were meant to enter the school at some point in the 1980s, according to late 1960s expectations. They never did, as those families remained abroad for good. In addition, the fact that the school would avoid admitting non-Jewish students partly explains the reduction in size of the student population. Finally, growing political instability, beginning in the 1980s, led families who might not have been motivated otherwise, to leave the country.

Changes in the Jewish Day School In the twenty-first century, the Jewish day school of Lima, Colegio León Pinelo, is still the heart of Jewish socialization. After the long crisis faced by the country and the community in the 1980s and 1990s, the school became one of the most benefited community institutions after the economic recovery of Peru, beginning in 2003. This new situation arose with a new generation of Limeño Jews assuming leadership. Among the most striking changes in the late 2000s, the new leadership decided to replace the school principal, after a tenure lasting twenty-five years. Another change, and again related to the change in management, was a renewed embrace of religion. Yet another salient change was an increase in the amount of students coming from families made of at least one parent who was not raised within the boundaries of the Jewish community of Lima. The professionalization of the school, as indicated by its recent International Baccalaureate certification, is at odds with the spirit of preserving an ‘artisanal culture’ in terms of institutional management. The need to adapt to market needs and to a neoliberal scenario in which school prestige is earned by its international connection to postindustrialized, rich societies has exerted pressure in leadership decision-making favoring a change in strategy. At the same time, the notion of having gone through a long crisis leading to a smaller student population and to the overall acceptance

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

that Jewish children might be better off attending other schools, has begun challenging the image Limeño Jews once had of the school. The economic growth experienced by Peru since 2003 and the idea that getting an education somehow resembles consumer habits—showing consumer preferences and being valued not only because of training needs but, most importantly, in order to gain status—has created an excess of demand in terms of private education in Lima. It has also generated a new market of private schools (some for profit) competing with each other for students, segmenting their target audience by charging expensive tuitions. It is in this context that the Jewish school has found itself in a disadvantageous position. On the one hand, it cannot compete for the best students because it only serves school-aged children and young people whose families are affiliated to the Jewish Association of Peru. Given that the school is the most successful Jewish socializing agency in the country, its authorities avoid rejecting Jewish students on academic performance grounds. For this reason, while some of the other private schools of the same prestige reach their student quota almost effortlessly, the Jewish school is less rigorous in terms of learning skills and abilities throughout its admissions process. On the other hand, given the fact that the school is a communityowned institution, the school does not raise money through fees, which are now a common practice within the private education sector in Lima. These fees are paid in addition to yearly tuition and, by the mid-2010s, amounted to thousands of US dollars.20 To be sure, the Jewish day school in Lima is among the most expensive in the city. Yet, having a reduced student population makes it impossible to operate on income from tuition fees only. Indeed, it is through private donations and fundraising activities that the school can to stay open while, at the same time, serving an exclusively Jewish population. Nevertheless, community leaders in the 2010s expressed optimism regarding the school’s future. It is noteworthy that these new leaders incorporated concepts from the world of business into school and community management, as their own professional training and activity is different from the two previous generations’. Since achievement and a sense of be20

According to a report published by the Peruvian newspaper La Republica in 2018, the most expensive private school entry fees (that is, in addition to monthly tuition payments) are around nineteenth thousand dollars, about sixty-six times Peru’s minimum wage at the time.

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longing and affinity to a social class are as important as family background for success in a nonmeritocratic, rigidly hierarchical society like Lima’s, it is paramount for the Jewish school to be deemed prestigious not only by Jews but by the rest of society. Hence, the introduction of concepts like competitiveness has led the new leaders to push for the school to be at the same level of other schools serving Lima’s upper-middle and upper classes. By the 2010s, there were three generations of school alumni from the same family, that is, the grandchildren of the first graduates were graduating in the decade. This generational development is representative of a change in the expectations parents have about their children’s education. The immigrant generation and the first few Peruvian-born Jews who were parents by the late 1940s, when the school opened its doors, wanted their children to receive a Jewish education based on the Hebrew language, the Bible and religion, and Jewish history with a focus on Zionism, partly in order to resist the potential external influences coming from a publicly Catholic society which, to this day, implicitly assumes everybody is Catholic or, at the very least, well versed in its set of practices and beliefs. In contrast, those who grew up when the Jewish community and its school were already consolidated tend to take its specifically Jewish education for granted and value other educational elements instead, particularly those that contribute to professional training and cosmopolitan socialization. This often does not sit well with those community leaders born in the 1960s, who understand that the school has a key role in defining what kind of Judaism, and in what amount, needs to be nourished. In line with those twenty-first-century, class-oriented expectations, some families would rather send their children to other private schools in Lima. According to estimates produced by community leaders sitting at the school’s steering committee during the first half of the 2010s, about 80% of all school-aged children from Jewish households in the city were attending the Jewish school, compared to an estimated 90% previous decades. (It must be pointed out that the Jewish population in the city was once larger as well.) According to an interviewee, who served as the president of the school’s steering committee (gathering representatives from the religious congregations under the umbrella of the Jewish Association of Peru), the committee considered that parents choosing other schools for their children were usually driven by the fact that their children did not ‘adapt’ to the school or felt comfortable there. He also stated that some parents wanted their children

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

to build better networks by attending schools with the children of the most powerful families in the city. Thus, according to this testimony, religious considerations were not really taken into consideration when making educational decisions. Conversely, older interviewees said that the exclusiveness of the Jewish day school was potentially counterproductive in terms of the preservation of Jewish identity. An eighty-year-old interviewee went so far as to suggest that “the school is contributing to [Jewish] assimilation [that is, losing Jewish identity]. [. . .] [T]hey [Jewish youngsters] all know each other much too well.”21 In other words, because most Jewish kids attend the same school and share the same social circles, this interviewee argued, they are often inclined to marry out because they become tired of seeing the same people; and once in college, non-Jewish Peruvians from the same social class become more interesting couples. Another interviewee in his mid-eighties shared this concern during our interview. While his children attended the Jewish school during the 1960s and 1970s, his grandchildren did not. In his view, people are concerned about raising their children in a (privileged version) of a “ghetto.”22 How, then, has the role of religion and Jewish education changed as alternatives have become more easily available from one generation to the next? It is important to note that there have always been Jewish students at prestigious private schools in Lima. What is striking, though, is that according to the Jewish community’s ‘collective consciousness,’ once the Jewish school began operating, 90% of Jewish children attended the school, and it was expected that each and every one of them would do so at some point. There are, of course, some exceptions that illustrate a basic aspiration that has persisted throughout this group’s process of rootedness. For instance, some young Jewish girls from well-off families attended Colegio San Silvestre in the 1960s and 1970s, a secular, all-girls elite school that offered better training in English as a second language. It is still a somewhat popular choice among wealthy Jewish families. Some Jewish boys also went to other English and American elite schools. However, in the twenty-first century, it seems that the appeal of non-Jewish schools has grown and is not exclusive among the wealthiest.

21

Interview #7.

22

Interview #9.

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This ‘reopening’ of Jews to the rest of society (and the other way around as well) goes hand in hand with the embrace of a ‘market’ logic and is not necessarily a by-product of secularization. This logic is the lens through which some Jewish families weigh up the benefits of exposing their kids to more extended networks and a more professionalized education. This has become a challenge to the Jewish school’s decision makers, who are now working to establish the school on a more professionalized footing while preserving its communal feel. New guidelines have been drawn up so that the school can position itself within the new environment without neutralizing its strengths—supporting a small social group organized around an artisanal system based on trust (as most people involved have known each other for a long time), solidarity ties, and to some extent kinship. Thus, the new leadership, born between the 1960s and 1970s, has taken up the challenge of making the school competitive without endangering Jewish education or Jewish exclusivity. The former generation of community leaders, who grew up in a country in which Jews had less access to those professions that lead to social mobility, could not have anticipated this scenario. In fact, it was during their time in charge that the school built up its prestige and became so highly regarded. It was only after the country experienced economic growth and globalization that a sense of stagnation appeared. Also, an unprecedented level of wealth became available to a new group of actors, including Limeño Jews. The needs of this new class of rich businesspeople, whose transnational connections had not previously been used to fortify their social status, had to be met under the new globalized conditions. To that end, community leaders have agreed to supplement the traditionally scientific orientation of the school with a ‘managerial’ one, in 2014 forming, for instance, the Professionalized Pedagogical Committee,23 which works as an advisory board for the school’s steering committee and teachers. The advisory board consists of “independent professionals” and “members of the [steering] committee.”24 Three out of six members work in business training; two of them, at for-profit universities owned by an business corporations. Another member of the committee is a finance consul-

23

El boletin, March 21, 2014, http://www.mjp.org.pe/WEB3/Boletines/El%20 Boletin/2014/BOLETIN%20100%20-%2021%20de%20Marzo%202014.pdf.

24

Ibid.

3. Agents of Socialization: Israel, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Day School

tant, another is a businessman, and the only woman on the board works in education and pedagogy, even though her professional training is in management.25 The business background of the members of the advisory board thus shows that there is an uncontested expectation held by community leaders that young Peruvian Jews be eventually trained in business management. This shows that there is an understanding of class rules and aspirations, given that in Peru, where there is little investment in the development of science or the arts, preserving or improving this group’s collective social status can only be achieved by means of entering the markets.

Jewish Socialization in Neoliberal Times Colegio León Pinelo is an example of how the organized version of Jewish Lima has responded to the effects of globalization, neoliberal economic policies, a changing political landscape and social transformations in Peru. Leveraging transnational connections in order to gain social status has become ever more important as Israel has solidified its relationship with the United States and become a major military force in the Middle East. Hence, through the Jewish Agency, the school has become a Jewish Israeli enclave in Peruvian education, reinforcing the connection between Jewish Peruvians and their imagined version of Israel, also granting them a sense of solidarity and belonging that goes beyond the relationship between citizen and State, as an effect of globalization.26 Moreover, this formal bond that ties the school with Israel—a country ranked among the top twenty in terms of human development27—and subsequently with other Jewish communities (especially in Latin America), infuses Peruvian Jews with a touch of cosmopolitanism and attractive foreignness. These international links provide social status, promote a sense of affinity with other Peruvians in the upper-middle class who also resort to bilingualism, and double citizenships and other identities that transcend the notion of single, national citizenship and the limits of the nation-state.

25

Ibid.

26

Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights.

27

United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2015, http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2015_human_development_report.pdf.

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In the context of the contemporary process of postsecularization, the Jewish school shows how this small community has been reacting to the return of religion to public space, particularly but not exclusively in Israel and the United States. As religious-nationalist parties make gains in Israel, the largest Jewish congregation in Peru, Unión Israelita, has followed suit by hiring Israeli rabbis belonging to that same political orientation/religious denomination. The school, too, has hired Israeli teachers through the Jewish Agency that reinforce Orthodox religious education. In the twenty-first century, and for the first time since the school was founded, some of these teachers are indeed Orthodox Jews. Therefore, the school serves as the most suitable place to introduce identity elements flown in directly from Israel, thus redefining the meanings of Jewishness on the basis of a transnational relationship of unilateral dependence. At the same time, changes in family formation among Jews in the course of the past seventy years are more noticeable through the school than any other organization in the Jewish Association of Peru. According to interviewees, the following narrative can be reconstructed. From its creation in the mid-1940s until the 1990s, it seems it was relatively common to find some families with the following makeup: a father who was a Jew by birth, a mother who was a Jew by conversion, and children who attended the Jewish day school. In contrast, it was extremely rare to find a family sending their children to the Jewish school in which the mother was a Jew by birth and the father had not been born a Jew, which has increasingly become the case since the 1990s. If that is indeed the case, then it follows that: a) there has been a process of empowerment for women in general that is expressed significantly in the freedom to intermarry and remain within community boundaries (because affiliation is a requisite in order to send the children to the Jewish school and in the case of interfaith couples, it is the mother who affiliates); b) Jewish education is valued, or at least not rejected, by non-Jewish spouses; c) sometimes there is no rival religion competing with Judaism, an effect of secularization understood as the ability to choose whether to believe, how to believe, or not to believe at all; and d) Jewish education (in its Limeño version) is not at odds, and it does not seem to threaten, the secular lifestyle of upper-middle class Lima.

4

Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

The second half of the twentieth century introduced the world to significant changes regarding organized religion. Among these changes, it has been pointed out that the change in direction taken by the Catholic Church, the most powerful religious agent in the Americas, is related to the combination of “globalization, nationalization, secular involvement and voluntary disestablishment that led to the change of orientation from state to society,”1 thus “adopt[ing] a new transnational, global identity.”2 In parts of Latin America this “global orientation”3 meant a shift in the relationship between the Church and the state and the relationship between the Church and the dominant classes, as it redirected its attention towards the poor, especially after the emergence of liberation theology in the 1970s.4 In this scenario, the Nostra Aetate declaration stands at the fore, as it promoted the notion that there is a “bond that spiritually ties the People of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock.”5 In other words, Jews were not 1

Casanova, Public Religions, 225.

2

Ibid.

3

Ibid.

4

Ibid., 4.

5

Pope Paul IV, “Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions,” Nostra Aetate, October 28, 1965, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html.

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to be seen as agents of deicide, heretics, or enemies of the Christian faith anymore. Rather, they now shared a “spiritual patrimony”6 with Catholic Christians. This new stance assumed by the Catholic Church had more than just an impact on the official relationship between both religions; it rendered irrelevant some of the obstacles that prevented social contact among Jews and the rest of society in Catholic countries such as Peru. In parallel, the last decades of the twentieth century witnessed the emergence of new forms of religious fundamentalisms, which were reacting to modern, secularizing, Western forces, particularly to the separation of government and religion. This took place most clearly in Muslim societies in Africa and the Middle East; Jewish society in Israel; and among Christians in the United States7 and Christian Latin America. Furthermore, secularization has brought about changes in the way people relate to each other. Since secularization can be thought of as the emergence of new views of religiosity (whether to fully believe, to believe just a little, or not believe at all),8 social ties cease to rely necessarily on religious belief,9 which is conducive to an expansion of social relations, particularly in an urban setting. Considered together, these events contextualize the changes in Jewish life in Lima that are the subject of this book. One such change, which was extensively discussed by interviewees in every single interview conducted for this study, is the association through elective affinity of Limeño Jews and non-Jews. As a result, Limeño Jews have become akin, desirable partners for Catholics and, to a lesser extent, non-Catholic Christians. This affinity is also expressed in the willingness of non-Jews raised Catholic to convert to Judaism, which in principle demands a change in religious conviction. Conversion, though, differs from case to case and there are sometimes reasons other than a change of religious conviction behind the decision to convert. Along these lines, there are two kinds of changes related to the contexts described above: a) changes in family formation (interfaith couples and 6

Ibid.

7

Casanova, Public Religions; also, Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (New York: Anchor, 2009).

8

Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

9

Ibid.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

couples formed by a Jew by birth and a Jew by conversion); and b) changes within the community as reactions to developments in family formation and with regard to the conversion to Judaism of non-Limeño, lower-middle-class Peruvians.

Part of the Tribe: Jews by Birth, by Conversion, and by Family Formation The process of rootedness and the national dimension of Jewish life in Lima are permeated by a progressive insertion of Jews into the upper-middle class. This was possible partly because of increased interactions through professional activities and, just as important, through changes in family formation. With the effects of modernization reaching most places where Jews settled, throughout the twentieth century there has been a “leading global trend toward greater integration and out-marriage of Jews with non-Jews.”10 Given that the core organized Jewish community in Lima arrived in the early twentieth century and established its institutions during the first decades of the century, it is of relevance to ask how different generations of Limeño Jews have addressed intermarriage, particularly since “at the turn of the twenty-first century, the increasing globalization of society created growing or new opportunities for interaction among different social and cultural actors across and within distinct communities, in Israel and across the world.”11 Indeed, the largest Jewish communities of South America—Argentina and Brazil—had higher rates of intermarriage by the end of the twentieth century. Other Latin American countries, as is usually the case, can only seldom provide precise social data; and yet, if the numbers are to mean anything, it seems that between 15% to 35% of Latin American Jews from countries other than Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Uruguay were intermarried at the end of the twentieth century, thus signaling a significant number of families formed by people who were not born Jewish with Jews in the re10

Sergio DellaPergola, “Jewish Out-Marriage: A Global Perspective,” in Jewish Intermarriage Around the World, ed. Shulamit Reinharz and Sergio DellaPergola (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2009), 16.

11

Ibid., 18.

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gion.12 How has this shaped the experience of family formation for Limeño Jews? And how has this trend shaped the community’s approach to a Jewish family that challenges the idealized version modelled after that provided by Israel and by closed premodern communities? According to interviewees, the idea of marrying out in Lima was traditionally less desirable than marrying in, at least for some immigrants and the first generation of Peruvian-born Jews. Interviewees, who were young adults in the 1940s and 1950s, remembered how having non-Jewish friends and dating non-Jews used to generate negative reactions from their immigrant parents and their acquaintances. Nevertheless, dating and marrying non-Jews was possible and interfaith couples were formed between Jewish immigrants and non-Jewish Peruvians, and between Jewish Peruvians and non-Jewish Peruvians as well. Some of the testimonies addressed the ambivalence of this situation. For instance, an interviewee who was born in Peru in the 1920s recalled having a non-Jewish boyfriend in the 1940s. Her mother, a Sephardi immigrant from Turkey, told her that she could fall in love with someone who was not Jewish but could not marry him. Nevertheless, she also recalled that “whenever we dated young men who did not belong to the [Jewish] community, we were hiding [from our parents].”13 Another interviewee who left Germany as a child and emigrated to Peru in the early 1930s said that having a non-Jewish girlfriend was frowned upon by people in the Jewish community in 1940s Lima. However, it was fairly common. As he put it, “when one went out with a shikse, they hid themselves, they were rather careful not to be seen.”14 The use of the word shikse here is also deliberate. It refers to a non-Jewish woman and it is a term that younger generations avoid, as it might be used in a derogatory way. In Latin America, indeed, the term has been commonly used to refer to a house worker, a cleaning lady. This same interviewee said that some interfaith couples “ran away”15 in order to escape their parents’ rejection (on both sides). Other interviewees born in Lima in the 1940s stated that in the 1960s, their Ashkenazi immi12

Ibid., 24-25.

13

Interview #8.

14

Interview #1.

15

Ibid.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

grant parents opposed their non-Jewish potential couples. One of them remembered dating a “Catholic” (meaning non-Jewish) girlfriend as a college student in Lima. He claims that his immigrant parents “almost threatened with committing suicide.”16 That is to say, some immigrants perceived interfaith relationships as a stigma, since they depended on their local Jewish networks’ acceptance in order to thrive and according to this interviewee’s experience, this kind of pressure was perceived by most members of the community. Another interviewee, a woman in her seventies, mentioned that when she was young, many Jewish girls fell in love with boys whose mothers were not Jewish (yet their fathers were). She claimed that when that was the case, Jewish girls were rarely allowed to get married and, as she recalled, “it was dreadful: many people refused to attend the wedding ceremony.”17 Perhaps due to that source of pressure, “there were just a few [people whose mother was not Jewish and whose father was]” among her Zionist group peers and “they were discriminated against.”18 The testimonies reveal that endogamy was considered key for the religious preservation of Judaism. They also show that some immigrants and first-generation Peruvian Jews were suspicious of non-Jews, fearing to find expressions of antisemitism among their Catholic peers. Nevertheless, interviewees agree that some immigrants married non-Jews in Peru. According to the interviews conducted, this was usually the case in provincial towns and cities and less so in Lima. Yet, some members of the first generation of Peruvian-born Jews married non-Jews even though it could break families apart. Interviewees seemed to agree that between the period of consolidation of the community (1940s) and the 1990s it was more common for Jewish men—and not women—to date and marry women who were not born Jewish, eventually making them part of the community. In fact, the rare couples formed by a Jewish woman and a non-Jewish man in Peru during the first half of the twentieth century have become legendary. One of those cases left an impression on Peruvian Jews born between the mid-1920s and the 1930s, as reported by interviewees. 16

Interview #14.

17

Interview #17.

18

Ibid.

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At least three interviewees from the elder cohort19 thought about the exact same case when asked about how common it was to find interfaith couples in their youth and when that happened, whether intermarrying was common for both Jewish men and women or mostly men, or women. The story these interviewees separately told goes as follows. A young Jewish woman, the daughter of Sephardi immigrants related to one of the most prominent Sephardic families in Lima, ‘ran away’ with a young Catholic man who was in the air force during the 1940s. The story was particularly shocking for the community because the young woman converted to Catholicism, as demanded by the young man’s family. Hence, the couple got married at a church. In reaction to that, the young woman’s parents mourned their daughter according to the Jewish ritual of sitting shiva. This indicates that despite interfaith couples being somewhat common, religion and ethnic-cultural belonging were very important for some Catholic families as well as for some Jewish families at the time, as the cited case shows. Besides, it is safe to say that it was widely expected in Peru that men’s religion would determine the religious path a recently formed couple would take. Hence, from the Jewish point of view, it was more acceptable for Jewish men to marry non-Jewish women than it was for Jewish women to marry non-Jewish men, whatever Orthodox Judaism’s matrilineal tradition. This, of course, is reflective of a shared element between Lima’s upper classes and Orthodox Judaism’s usual patriarchal stance. It also reflects the tendency among certain societies to hypergamy, or how women often used to marry up. This was discussed by an interviewee, who is the son of Ashkenazi immigrants and, just like the rest of interviewees, voiced his concerns over interfaith marriage. In his view, when immigrant Jews married non-Jews, they used to marry people from a lower social and economic strata. According to his view, back then (1930s–1940s), well-off non-Jewish families had the same objections Jews had towards interfaith couples. Indeed, endogamy was not exclusively cherished by Jews, but was a common concern of immigrants and religious minorities.20 Furthermore, religious obstacles were deepened by the immigrants’ lack of ancestry and their inability to prove their ‘pedigree.’ This was mainly

19

Interviews #4, 5, and 8.

20

Cuche, “Los palestinos en el Perú.”

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

noted by those interviewees who had become very wealthy during their lifetime. One of them, the daughter of Sephardic immigrants from Turkey, was eighty years old at the time of the interview. While discussing interfaith marriages before the 1990s, she claimed that family formation with non-Jews in Lima used to be “with people who were less than we [Jews in Lima] were: socially, culturally, economically, always. There wasn’t a single marriage [between a Jew and a non-Jew in Lima] in which the non-Jew[ish spouse] belonged in the same [social] category as the Jew[ish spouse].”21 Another octogenarian interviewee, the son of Sephardi immigrants, shared this opinion, stating that “every [case of] assimilation22 took place in the provinces [towns and cities other than Lima] [. . .] with the first [person] they met. [. . .] That makes me mad. [. . .] If you are going to assimilate, assimilate to a good thing, not to an anticuchera [street food vendor].”23 This interviewee clearly referred to the immigrant generation, because he also recalled the son of a very prominent Sephardic family in Lima, born in the 1950s, who married a woman from the upper class, which the interviewee described as “cases in which they [that is Jewish men] have aimed at the elite.”24 Yet another octogenarian, this time a Peruvian-born Ashkenazi, claimed that whenever someone from the immigrant generation married a non-Jewish Peruvian, “the person socially climbing was the goy, not the Jew.”25 Likewise, interviewees pointed out that when interfaith couples got married, it was deemed preferable by the Jewish community that the nonJewish spouse was a member of the dominant classes. This was particularly true after the 1970s, when the old oligarchy was challenged by emerging social actors—among them first-generation Peruvians such as Jews—and the cultural and socioeconomic distance from wealthy non-Jews shrank significantly. This situation changed by the end of the twentieth century, even though interfaith couples still generated negative reactions, particularly from 21

Interview #4.

22

The term ‘assimilation’ is sometimes used by Peruvian Jews born in the first half of the twentieth century to indicate ‘intermarriage.’

23

Interview #7.

24

Ibid.

25

Interview #9.

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community leaders. The relaxation of restrictions applied to couples in general and the secularization of a series of spaces contributed to a situation in which Catholic Peruvians felt less pressured into having Jews convert (to Catholicism) in order to embrace them as family members. By contrast, some Peruvian Jews and, most noticeably, Jewish communal institutions insisted (and still do) on converting their non-Jewish couples to Judaism as a reaction to secularization.

Resisting Change and the Creation of New Categories: Fully Jewish Versus Mitad-Mitad Families formed by a Jew by birth and a Jew by conversion have had an impact on the Jewish Association of Peru. This impact is most visible in the reconfiguration of the Asociación de Beneficencia y Culto 1870, the former Yekke-founded religious congregation, although it has also shaken the core of the other congregations and the community as a whole, which have had to redefine their membership criteria in light of increased interaction among Jews and non-Jews. In the midst of this process, the Asociación de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 went from a Modern Orthodox Yekke congregation to a Masorti one. As a Masorti congregation, it admits conversions to Judaism without demanding that the convert observe Judaism’s religious precepts in their entirety (in other words, living an observant life according to Orthodox Judaism). In that sense, the Asociación de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 has become the congregation that has welcome the largest number of congregants who were not born Jewish. Even though there is no official count that could prove the former statement, there are at least two versions of a joke based on the number ‘1870’ that are very well known among Limeño Jews. Sometimes called ‘the eighteen–seventy’ (dieciocho– setenta), the year in which the congregation was founded would be associated with the identity of its congregants, particularly since the congregation is colloquially referred to as ‘la 18-70’ (the eighteen–seventy). The first version of the joke suggests that the congregation is named 1870 because it is allegedly made up of ‘eighteen Jews and seventy goyim.’26 That is to say, it is 26

Goy (plural: goyim) is a biblical term in Hebrew that literally means ‘people.’ It is commonly used to refer to other peoples, as opposed to the Jewish people. In this context it means ‘a non-Jew.’

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

a Jewish religious congregation containing more non-Jews than Jews, at least according to the view of those congregations that chose Orthodoxy and do not admit members whose conversions are not Orthodox. The second version of the joke, much less well known, claims that congregants of ‘la 18–70’ are called ‘935.’ Why? Because they are only halfJewish, and half of 1870 is 935. These jokes are remnants of the (imagined) tendency towards the endogamy of the immigrant generation and they also express an unquestioned adherence to Orthodoxy by the other congregations in the city. The jokes reveal that despite the heterogeneity of affiliates to the Jewish community organization, there are some people who do not consider the membership of others as completely legitimate. Indeed, in a third of the interviews conducted,27 the term ‘mixed marriage’ came up in an unusual way that is telling of the ways in which relationships between Jews and non-Jews, and Jews by birth and Jews by conversion, are viewed from the point of view of the mainstream community in Lima. It is interesting to revisit the journey of the term in Lima. To the immigrant generation, a “mixed marriage” could mean the union created by a Sephardi and an Ashkenazi. Once the differences in origin among Jews disappear, with the first generation of Jews coming of age in Peru, that which is “mixed” or different is in the outside, in the non-Jewish realm. Thus, it is striking that from the 1970s onward, the use of ‘mixed marriage’ becomes equivocal, both referring to a marriage between a Jew and a nonJew and to a marriage between a Jew by birth and a Jew by conversion, even though the second case is, by all accounts, a Jewish marriage, that is, there is no other religion involved. This makes sense insofar as conversion is essentially a religious process and, along those lines, it could be understood as a form of ‘rebirth,’ implying a radical change in religious conviction and lifestyle. Given that Conservative Judaism and other progressive versions of the same religion aim at combining Judaism with contemporary Western life, their conversions might be more attractive to nonobservant families because the changes they require seem less radical than those required by more reactionary versions of Judaism. Furthermore, a change in religious conviction and practice does not transform one’s ascendancy nor one’s family experience. Hence, a convert

27

Interviews #9, 13, 19, 20, 25, 26, and 27.

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has not inherited culturally defined Jewish elements, such as language, food, stories, sense of humor, memories, adding to the (mis)conception by some that the process and its results are questionable.

Peruvian Jewish Ladies and Non-Jewish Peruvian Gentlemen Perhaps one of the changes that has caught the attention of interviewees the most has to do with an increased acceptance of couples formed by Jewish women and non-Jewish men (who do not convert to Judaism), whose children are raised within the parameters of organized Jewish life in Lima. That is to say, marrying ‘out’ does not entail leaving the community anymore or being cast away. Indeed, even the sons and daughters of community leaders, arguably the most involved in community affairs, are marrying non-Jews. An interviewee who was born in the 1970s and got married in the 1990s discussed this extensively. She herself comes from a family with an interfaith background: out of her four grandparents, only two were born Jewish and those two were men, that is, her parents had to convert to Judaism in order to be recognized as Jews. Her parents run a successful family business and are very wealthy. When she shared with them her plans to marry a non-Jew, they were not pleased. Yet the interviewee went through with her decision and her parents had to adjust to the idea, although, unlike the case of the 1940s mentioned above, this time the wedding was only civil, and did not require a conversion of any kind. The parents of the interviewee’s couple, practicing Catholics from Lima’s elite, were also at odds with the marriage at first, yet the degree of economic independence the young couple had reduced the chances of the whole thing turning into a conflict. Departed from how the situation would have been several decades earlier, the interviewee was able to make a decision as an educated woman, a university graduate who had acquired the tools (training in business management, a network of wealthy Peruvians) to become independent. More importantly, neither half of the couple was adopting a rival religion, thus diminishing the resistance of their families. Finally, they both came from well-off families, which might have been viewed positively by both sets of parents. Cases like this seem to derive from the process of secularization in Peru and elsewhere around the world, under which Christians and Jews can separate family formation from religion. In this sense, class affinity and worldview are enough to mitigate the role of religion in family formation.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

However, the new reality does create a source of tension stemming from the fact that it is extremely rare for non-Jewish men who are married to Jewish women, who are raising their children Jewish, to convert. In this respect, one interviewee, a young woman who converted, commented about a man she knows who married a Jewish woman. When asked if this man, a close acquaintance of hers, had converted to Judaism, as his children were being raised Jewish, the interviewee claimed: “there is no way [this man] would convert [. . .] she does not need [for him to convert], she is Jewish.”28 As striking as this comment might sound coming from a convert, it seems to reflect the predominant feeling as middle and upper-middle class men who intend to marry or are married to Limeño Jewish women only seldom convert. Thus, religion is secondary yet; important, as non-Jewish men are less willing than non-Jewish women to convert to Judaism. If belonging to Judaism were not related to maternal inheritance, it would be just as rare for women to convert.29 Coping with non-Jewish members has demanded a series of strategies from this small community. It has been usually the case that non Jewish women go through conversion so their children are admitted into the community, and can get a Jewish education at the Jewish school and marry other Jews. Nowadays even though some women undergo a conversion in order to marry a Limeño Jew by birth, religious conversion appears as an accessory and not as a prerequisite in order to take part in organized Jewish Lima. This change was introduced by non-Jewish men, who were the unlikely couples of affiliated Jewish Limeño women until the 1990s and are now much more common participants in some aspects of Jewish life in the city. As they refrain from converting, though, their participation is limited to non-religious activities, thus excluding themselves from an otherwise significant portion of Jewish life that their children are expected to experience. Along these lines, another change that was noticed and discussed by interviewees is that among these interfaith couples, there are families 28

Interview #20.

29

In the course of the research, I was made aware that there were two or three men in Lima born after 1985 who converted to Judaism before marrying Jewish women. However, the conversion of upper-middle-class Limeño men to Judaism remains an extremely rare thing, despite the fact that marriages between Jewish women and nonJewish men have become rather common.

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in which the non-Jewish spouse comes from Lima’s upper class. One of the interviewees, a man in his early 50s who was highly involved in community affairs, suggested that when marrying out, Jewish women usually marry men “from an upper social stratum, from the high society, white, decent; equivalent [to Jews].”30 He felt that Jewish women were aware that they were doing something that was not entirely accepted by their families, hence they “sought family acceptance by bringing home a boy that is spectacular.”31 According to the interviewee, it was very important that the non-Jewish partner would not become “an economic burden”32 to the family of the Jewish woman. Hence, unlike men, Jewish women needed to prove themselves and their couples through credentials, economic position and social status, or as the interviewee put it, “a good whitie.”33 In order to stress his point, the interviewee literally said that young Jewish women who were marrying out “were not bringing a falasha home,” perhaps not realizing that he was implicitly claiming that it was preferable for Limeño Jews to have their daughters marry non-Jewish, white Peruvians rather than having them marry non-white Jews. Another interviewee from the same generation made a point of the class origins of the non-Jewish couples of Jewish young men and women in the twenty-first century. He claimed that “there are several cases of Jewish men or women married to men and women who not only are not Jewish but [come from] families with ‘avenue names.’”34 Another interviewee, a businessman who was in his late 40s when we talked, suggested that when Jews interacted with non-Jews, at all levels, there was an increased awareness of the value of networking.35 He claims that there are less differences in the twenty-first century between non Jewish and Jewish Limeños because there is affinity, “they tend to get together according to what they do, according to the beach they go to [. . .], where 30

Interview #19.

31

Ibid.

32

Ibid.

33

Ibid. The interviewee used these precise words, in English, during our conversation, which was held in Spanish.

34

Interview #23. By ‘avenue names’ the interview meant the elite or families with distinguished ancestry.

35

Interview #24.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

[they] live.”36 This interviewee is mainly thinking of wealthy Limeño Jews, not acknowledging the fact that there might be Limeño Jews outside of upper-middle class circles. This was also mentioned by an interviewee who came of age in 1980s Jewish Lima. She is not involved in the community anymore yet she remembers that “if you were an upper-class Jew and you dated a penniless goy, it was a double insult; dating a rich goy was half an insult. He was goy, but rich, so at least there was a common language there.”37 Unlike Limeño Jews, Israeli men living in Lima seem less sensitive to class origins, at least according to an interviewee declaring that some Israelis married ‘very Peruvian’38 non-Jewish women. By ‘very Peruvian,’ of course, he meant non-white, lower-middle class. Hence, class origins are deemed relevant for the acceptance of nonJews into Jewish Peruvian families, especially when the non-Jew is a man. According to an interviewee, a woman born in the 1940s, the Jewish community in Lima remained culturally different while “adhering and absorbing the customs of the upper class.”39 She literally called it a “socio-economic assimilation,”40 excluding religious and identity elements from this ever-feared word. Overall, interviewees took the class aspirations of those who intermarried for granted, although some interviewees showed concern over this situation, considering that family formation is central to preserving Jewish identity. One of them, who was born in the 1960s, suggested that “if your [non Jewish] daughter marries my [Jewish] son, your grandchild will not believe in what you believe, and that is wrong. Not because I am better than you but because this must enrich the historic ball from your past.”41 Yet another interviewee from the same generation, also a man, said that community leadership has a concern about serving people who are not strongly identified with Judaism, particularly at the school. He explicitly said that

36

Ibid.

37

Interview #25.

38

Interview #19.

39

Interview #13.

40

Ibid.

41

Interview #23.

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they do not want the Jewish day school, and indirectly, the community, to be the ‘second best’ scenario of interfaith families.42 Hence, a contemporary Limeño-Jewish dilemma can be summed up as follows: if a) there is less social differentiation and more affinity among upper-middle class Jews and non-Jews, and b) there is no overt animosity from one group towards the other, why remaining socially different— and how?

Conversion and Belonging Leading a Jewish life, in general and outside of Israel, seems to depend on the following, to some degree: religious elements, which themselves require group organization; an ethnicity, or a historical and linguistic common heritage; the awareness and willingness to belong to a distinct social and cultural group. As has been noted above, the Jewish community in Lima was always small and in the 1980s, it became even smaller. Given the circumstances defining Jewish life in Lima in the 1980s and 1990s, one strategy for demographic survival is the conversion of people who were not born Jewish, favoring the formation of new Jewish families within the organized framework of Jewish Lima. This practice has allowed for the formal inclusion of families into the community at least since the 1930s. Despite the fact that at the beginning of the twenty-first century marrying people who were not born Jewish is extensively common in Jewish Lima, it remains a concern for some, due to differences in religious views which might be hiding some considerations related to ethnicity. An interviewee born in the 1960s, who has served as community leader, devoted some time to discuss this issue. According to him, quite often, Limeño Jews pay too much attention to the kind of conversion and the level of religious commitment of a convert in order to determine if this person’s family belongs in the community. Instead, he claims that what is truly important is what happens to the children of such families. In his view, making sure children get proper Jewish education and allowing for them to be involved in Jewish community life can help rewrite children’s experience

42

Interview #19.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

as ‘Jewish,’ according to the parameters set by the organized Jewish community. In this framework, in which community leaders and rabbis are in charge of determining whether a family is admitted to the umbrella organization, there are those who question the so-called ‘light conversions,’43 claiming that some people take a conversion class without really transforming their lifestyle to portray an embracement of Jewish religious customs. In other words, these people learn about Judaism and go through the required phases (immersing in the ritual bath and circumcision for men), yet after obtaining a certificate of conversion, do not live as Jews, at least not as Jewish Orthodoxy demands (that is, observing all 613 religious precepts). This has had an impact in the way the Jewish school accepts new students. Changes in social interaction and family formation were not anticipated, as the school was conceived of as an organization that would serve people who knew each other and who were known by ‘everybody’ and is now serving some families formed by ‘new’ people, that is, Jewish immigrants and Peruvians who were not born Jewish. The school has been dealing with the new situation by changing the data it collects from parents registering their children for the first time. The new form was changed in 2010; a year after deep changes took place within the school management. If the information the school asked parents to fill is indicative of the needs and concerns of the steering board and the school administration, then the beginning of the twentieth century has demanded an adjustment of expectations from community leaders. The previous version of the form was used from the 1990s until 2010 and even though registration into the school is conditional upon affiliation to one of the religious congregations (or synagogues) within the Jewish Association of Peru, the form asks both mother and father what their religion is and to which religious congregation they belong. The newest version of the form, used since 2010 and still in use at the time of writing this book in 2018, includes additional criteria in line with an expanded need to find out where the new people are coming from and whether they, indeed, belong.

43

Interviewees #19, 21, and 25.

103

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For instance, sections requesting information on the father and the mother of the child (other family structures are not acknowledged, perhaps because there have been no same-sex couples sending their children to the Jewish school in Lima as of 2017), ask if the parents are also Colegio León Pinelo alumni. If they are not, they should specify which school they attended, a piece of information that can reveal aspects related to having a Jewish background and class identity (mainly aimed at Peruvians). Moreover, the form requests those parents who did not attend Colegio Leon Pinelo as students, to give the names and contact information of two members affiliated to the Jewish Association of Peru who can claim to have known the ‘new’ parent (Jewish or not) for a period of five years or more. That is to say, it is important to be referred by other people not in order to prove Jewishness but rather, to demonstrate that one belongs, which might be a totally different thing in Jewish Lima. Being ‘not known’ by the rest of affiliates, then, casts doubts on the legitimacy of that person’s involvement in community life. Unlike what might be the case in larger Jewish communities all over Latin America, being known by the rest is highly valued in a small community, even in an urban environment such as Lima’s. This partly explains why the two Orthodox congregations which are in the process of merging remain relevant to a younger generation, even though women must assume a secondary role in religious ritual and that, in general, Limeño Jews are rather secular. Thus, and as a rule, people affiliate to the congregation where those one already knows are to be found. Conversely, affiliating to the Masorti congregation means attending services with people who might be relatively new to the community, mainly because conversion to Judaism (either Masorti or Orthodox) does not really turn a person into someone that is already ‘known.’ Another interesting detail that stands out from the new registration form is information regarding the grandparents of the prospective student. Having three generations of Jewish Limeños who could have attended the Jewish school in Lima (or any of the other schools Jewish Limeños used to attend), identifying whether grandparents come from the Jewish community in Lima or from another background does matter, especially if they come from a background that might rival a Jewish one. Therefore, remaining within a network of people who know each other adds value to belonging. This is perhaps as valuable as imagining shared origins, sharing a system of beliefs and some common fate, in spite of Judaism’s internal diversity. For that reason, the school has a major role in this

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

community’s life. Sharing a similar school experience, as has been pointed out before,44 is highly valued for Limeño Jews. Thus, it is particularly important to keep the network in a good position so as to preserve the advantages and social status that had been gained over the course of the twentieth century. One such advantage is the fact that, according to interviewees, Jewish youth are usually raised in a more protective environment, with a delay in their exposure to alcohol, drugs and sex, compared to youths from the same socio-economic background in the city. 45

“You won’t find a Mamani”46 In the context described above, conversion to Judaism might not be assumed as a radical change in a believer’s conviction, since it takes place in a secular setting. Indeed, it is the secularization of Jews that allows them to meet and marry non-Jews in Lima. For instance, one of the interviewees was born in the 1970s and converted to Judaism in the mid-2000s. Before converting, she had married a Limeño Jew in a civil ceremony and claims she never felt any pressure to convert on behalf of her husband. It might be convenient to state that her husband comes from an interfaith family himself, as none of his grandmothers were Jewish. The interviewee said that she found an interest in Judaism “not only because of the religious aspect of it [. . .] but rather because of its cultural elements. [. . .] [Conversion] lessons were very interesting [. . .], they were universal history lessons.”47 As with other interviewees, this interviewee appreciated Jewish culture as a whole rather than Jewish religiosity as a way of living since, ultimately, in Lima being an observant Jew has always been frowned upon, particularly if the observant person is a convert. Being more committed to religion than Jews by birth is somehow deemed inauthentic, and causes the suspicion of

44

Ariel Segal, Jews of the Amazon.

45

Interviews 19, 23.

46

Interview #19. Mamani is a highly common surname in the Andean region. The interviewee mentioned it while trying to make the point that Jewish Limeño women who marry ‘out’ of the community tend to marry upper-middle-class, white Limeños.

47

Interview #20.

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those used to living within the imagined boundaries of the Jewish community in the city. If this story is representative in any sense, it shows that conversion to Judaism in Lima means much more than becoming a member of a religious group; in fact, it grants membership and ethnicity to someone who would otherwise be cast as an outsider. That is why it is so important to have women, the potential mothers of potential Jews, convert (and not men). That might also explain why there are mixed feelings within this small community regarding this process and why there are so many women willing to convert, in the first place. Converts are requested to demonstrate their change in religious conviction by fulfilling every religious precept of Judaism, according to the Orthodox consensus. Given that it is impossible to evaluate a person’s religious beliefs, behaving like the rest of the Jewish community is central to becoming part of Lima’s social life. Failure to do so, can bring about repercussions. An interviewee, who was born in the early 1960s and converted to Judaism in the 1990s after marrying a Peruvian Jew, discussed this in detail. According to her experience as a mother whose children attend the Jewish day school, there is bullying at the school because of “racial or economic”48 issues: “if the two things [racial and economic difference] come together, you’d better change schools.”49 This indicates how identifying as Jewish or being involved in the community must be supported by an idealized ethnicity (the Peruvian version of whiteness) and socioeconomic standing (namely, belonging to Lima’s upper-middle class). Even though this interviewee divorced her husband, her Jewish identity is reinforced by her children’s involvement in the Jewish school and in a series of community activities, such as the Zionist Youth Movement. She descends from a practicing Catholic family from Lima’s upper-middle class, and she remains close to them. During the interview, she recalled how every person in her conversion group was married or about to marry a Jewish man (they were all women). She also recalled how “many converted women have made the impossible in order to be engaged [with other Jews], to be inside, to be-

48

Interview #27.

49

Ibid.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

long and to participate.”50 Participation and community involvement for some of the women, nevertheless, revolves around the school, either through socializing with other mothers or joining the Israeli folk dancing groups. This interviewee remembered how, during the conversion course she took in Lima, she discovered a certain degree of discrepancy between what she was studying and what her husband and the Jews she knew in Lima were actually doing. It was hard for her to forget about it because during her final evaluation she was asked to describe a Shabbat custom, Seudat Shlishit, which she had never seen her husband or in-laws observe or even mention before. Thus, her Judaism is rooted in daily life, in her children’s activities and choices. This shows up in discourse as well. As the interviewee said, Jewish women by birth are called “judía[s] judía[s]” (a Jewish Jew, an actual Jew), as if converts were not entirely Jewish. Coming from a convert herself, this is shocking. Indeed, this interviewee referred to a class at the Jewish day school in which there are several families formed by Jews by birth and people who were not born Jewish (some converted and some did not) as an “invaded class.”51 From the point of view of some, ethnicity has preeminence over religious conviction or even lifestyle. Another interviewee, born in the 1970s into a family formed by a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, confirmed the notion that those who convert usually learn more and become more knowledgeable about Judaism than Jews by birth. Regardless, entering the community is hard, she and other interviewees’ believe, because this small community is frequently noted by others because of its social boundaries. In fact, some interviewees even referred to the community as a club52 or as “being surrounded by the same people, all the time.”53 An interviewee born in the early 1950s suggested that “the majority of the community feeds each other back and

50

Ibid.

51

Ibid.

52

Interview #25.

53

Interview #15.

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forth,”54 whereas there are “some dropouts from the community [. . .] living the city of Lima in a wider way.”55 A woman born in the early 1970s who has spent her entire life affiliated to the community described her generation of Limeño Jews as “extremely sealed [closed to other groups or people].”56 She suggested that “part of the problem stems from the fact that they [her Jewish peers] assume a position of being closed [to others]” due to “fear of being invaded” and to “arrogance, narcissism because they think of themselves as the chosen people and nobody can contaminate them.”57 Yet another interviewee from the same generation, a woman born in the late 1960s, remarked that “entering the community is hard” and that what makes this community Peruvian is “its sectarianism.”58 Throughout the conversations, some interviewees recalled episodes in which Orthodox rabbis and religious envoys from the Jewish Agency (all of them foreigners) had been disrespectful to affiliates to the Jewish community in Lima mainly because they doubted the validity of the conversions some people went through or because a member of the community had married a non-Jew. Hence, discrepancies in terms of codes of belonging sometimes go beyond the Limeño version of Jewishness, intertwining with debates on the subject all over the world. This also triggers the tensions mentioned above regarding the legitimacy of some members of the Asociación de Beneficencia y Culto 1870. One such tension, as mentioned before, is that converts feed the dwindling numbers of the Jewish population in the city, thus making organized Jewish life possible. By the same token, the desire to preserve some ethnic traits (a direct line with the immigrants who founded the community) prevails, resisting what an interviewee called as “the external influence.”59 As relationships among Jews and non-Jews are understood in a new light by both Jews and non-Jews, a young community leader born in 54

Ibid.

55

Ibid. The word ‘dropouts’ was used in English by the interviewee during our conversation in Spanish.

56

Interview #26.

57

Interview #21.

58

Interview #26.

59

Interview #23.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

the early 1960s claimed that “we have made a mistake in the transmission of cultural, religious, and historic contents to the young.”60

Class Affinity and the Jewish State Class affinity is a leading identity element among this small Jewish Latin American community. It ranks ahead of religious transnational identification, as the interviews and documents reviewed show. This is also supported by the attitudes Limeño Jews have towards the State of Israel. One interviewee who was born in the 1960s said that those like her, who graduated from the Jewish school in Lima in the 1980s, faced an uncertain future in Peru due to political and economic instability. It led several young Peruvians to leave the country. The interviewee studied abroad and said that there were perceived differences between those who could afford to study in the United States and those who studied in Israel, which provides economic aid for Jewish immigrants, including subsidies for postsecondary education. A difference, then, is exists between those who can afford to study abroad and those whose only hope is to study in Israel. This notion is at odds with the ideal of the Jewish pioneer who moves to Israel seeking to experience Jewishness from the point of view of a majority. According to this interviewee, those who studied in Israel were “the least cool”61 because they were coming from families that were not as wealthy as the average. Some of these students were also marginalized because their families could not afford to send them to college in Peru. Thus, Israel means something different to this and newer, less ideological generations. Israel is a country that embraces Jews who are economically struggling, which means that emigrating to Israel is the equivalent of losing social status, at least for Jews from this and perhaps other small Latin American Jewish communities. Whereas, in Lima, Jews belong to the upper-middle and upper classes, Limeño Jews in Israel—and perhaps many Latin American Jews, for that matter—join a “collectivist ethos.”62 In short, as an immigrant society that is defined by its absorption of Jews in need, Israel offers no privileges. 60

Ibid.

61

Interview #25.

62

Guy Ben Porat, Israel since 1980 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

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In fact, whereas in Lima Jews live as a minority, and Jewish identification is strengthened by that, the experience of Limeño Jews in Israel, where Jews are the majority and Latinos are a minority, reinforces Latin American identification in the form of an adherence to “multiple motherlands.”63 Given that Latin America is usually associated with developing countries, corruption, and informality, being a Latino in Israel, even a Jewish one, has its own limitations regarding social status. This notion is supported by another alumnus of Colegio León Pinelo, the Jewish school of Lima. This man emigrated to Israel in the 1980s and visited Lima for its class reunion, twenty-five years after graduating high school. On a website created for the purpose of organizing the event, this Israeli Peruvian sarcastically commented on his former classmates’ lifestyle: “Greetings from Asia.64 From Europe, from my private airplane, don’t write because I am going to Hawaii. [. . .] Here we65 are in Asia. Israel, but Asia nonetheless. And this place is more cholo than Peru. Here, we do not own private airplanes and we do not travel to the Caribbean. We barely make it to the end of the month.”66 Some of this man’s classmates live in Lima and some in the United States, both sharing lifestyles marked by ‘conspicuous consumption’67 insofar as consuming certain goods allows them to upgrade their social standing. This ostentatious lifestyle contrasts with the austerity of life in Peru during the 1970s, when this generation was of school age. Unlike previous generations, which were less likely to show off their wealth, Lima’s transformation into a consumer society has affected the behavior of Jews as well, particularly as social status can now be acquired through consumption. Thus, ancestry is now rivalled by consumption as a means to social 63

Lesser and Rein, “Motherlands of Choice,” 156.

64

‘Asia’ is the name of a seaside district about ninety kilometers south of Lima, which has been transformed since the 1990s into exclusive beach condominiums with private access to the beach, usually targeted at the newly rich. The commentary indicates that some classmates may own or rent beach houses in this trendy beach district.

65

The emphasis is mine.

66

Quoted with full permission of the author.

67

‘Conspicuous consumption’ is understood here as the habit in which “consumers purchase a good in order to advertise their wealth and thereby achieve greater social status.” Giacomo Corneo and Olivier Jeanne, “Conspicuous Consumption, Snobbism and Conformism,” Journal of Public Economics 66, no. 1 (1997): 55.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

mobility, thanks to the democratization promoted by the social reforms of the 1960s (which probably did not aim at creating a consumerist society) and the neoliberal, globally oriented economic policies of the 1990s. Hence, someone who emigrated to Israel in the 1980s should not be surprised by his former classmates’ exhibitionist behavior. The city of Lima and the Jewish community that he left behind were very different and the lifestyle that new immigrants can aspire to in Israel is, arguably, not consistent with the values and ideals of a consumption-oriented society. For that reason, Israel represents a true cholo, because some Latinos living in Israel, live as cholos, that is, their lives are marked by work and the hardships of an environment in which many people are just as qualified or more qualified than they are. They lack, then, the advantage enjoyed by most of today’s Limeño Jews—namely, being perceived as white, being local, and knowing the ground rules. For these same reasons, some well-off families donate money to the State of Israel but would not move there or let their children do so. Somehow, living in Israel means a downgrade in status because social differences in Israel change in meaning and typical immigrants cannot access the postcolonial privileges available to the middle classes in several Latin American countries, such as belonging to the dominant class, benefiting from an extensive network, enjoying leisure time because house workers help raise the children and tend to the home, and so forth. Indeed, this has also been the case for other Latin American communities from which “economically successful Jews were [and are] less likely to migrate.”68 The only advantage Israel presents to well-off Jewish Latin American families is, then, the possibility of leading a religious Jewish life, like the majority of the population. In a secular country like Peru, it is no wonder that class interests and a focus on economic activity take precedence over ideological or religious views. It is worth noting that there are Limeño Jews who feel proud of Israel as the nation protecting Jews around the world. Unlike others, an interviewee claimed that he did not object when one of his sons decided to study in Israel and serve in the army. Even though his son left Israel soon after ending his military service, this interviewee, born in the 1940s, felt proud about his child having served in the IDF. Indeed, this interviewee claimed

68

Lesser and Rein, “Motherlands of Choice,” 155. The authors refer to the case of Argentinian Jews who made aliyah in the 1950s and 1960s, studied by Sebastian Klor.

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that he loves Israel because “Israel allows me to be Peruvian.”69 This sense of pride can be read in many ways. For once, Israel allows the interviewee to be Peruvian since while he could live in a Jewish majority country, he chooses to live in Peru. The ability to decide reinforces his national identity. Moreover, knowing that there is a powerful army ready to defend Jews around the world lets this interviewee be openly Jewish. It is also worth noting that Israel is the destination of some Peruvian families who converted to Judaism, part of a phenomenon that is taking place in the region as a whole and that is possibly associated with the rise of evangelical Christianity in Latin America. From the 1990s onward, there have been groups of people from the Peruvian provinces who wish to convert to Judaism. Some of those groups have Jewish ancestry, as is the case of Jews from some towns and cities in the rainforest. Others have converted as a result of a change in religious conviction, possibly motivated by a Christian fundamentalist reading of the Old Testament.70 It is worth stating that these converts do not enter the Jewish community in Lima, the only organized (and the dominant) Jewish community in the country. Lacking affinity with Limeño Jews, in terms of class interests, common experiences, social distinction, and religiosity, these groups of families tend to emigrate to Israel in order to lead Jewish lives. Unlike converts who share the same class background as Limeño Jews and convert in order to have a family and become part of the community, or converts who were raised Jewish but need to have a group of rabbis confirm their religious belonging, those from other parts of the country and from other social classes often go through Orthodox conversions and remain observant. Hence, Israel has become the right destination for Peruvian Jews by conversion but not for Jews by birth. This situation shows how the organized Jewish community in Lima has appropriated upper-middle class and upper-class Limeño features. These

69

Interview #12.

70

While working on this research, between 2011 and 2015, Argentine journalist Gabriela Mochkofsky was preparing a book on this phenomenon—the conversion to Judaism of South Americans who are not aiming at entering their local Jewish communities. Also, Eduardo Torres, a graduate student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was working on his doctoral dissertation on Latin Americans in Israel who had converted to Judaism. On the specific case of Jews from the Peruvian Amazon, see Ariel Segal, The Jews of the Amazon.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

serve as entry barriers for Jewish families who may enter other societies, such as Israeli society, although not as smoothly as one might think. For instance, there is an organization exclusively devoted to support the insertion of Latin American and Iberian immigrants in Israel (OLEI) and then there are other organizations such as Shavei Israel serving immigrants from ‘lost tribes’ or descendants of Jews who have remained disconnected from organized communities. Among these groups there are at least two groups of Peruvian Jews: Jews of the Amazon and Jews of Cajamarca.71 Thus, Israeli society establishes differences among these populations for ethnic and religious reasons while the organized Jewish community in Lima is out of reach for them mainly for ethnic and class reasons. In some way, these families form an almost natural control group which demonstrates that if being Jewish according to the rules of Orthodox Judaism were enough, then the families of Jews by conversion from the provinces and lower-middle class would not face any obstacles integrating into the Jewish community in Lima. Jews by birth from other parts of the world successfully enter the community, although some must demonstrate they ‘fit in’ socially. Even though it is not explicit, the fact that lower-middle-class Peruvian converts can be part of Israeli society is a clear indication that the Jewish community in Lima has adopted strategies for discerning social distinction—and the community uses them to decide which people to include or exclude. These are usually an upper-middle-class, consumption-oriented secular lifestyle, often disengaged from the events affecting the majority of the population in the country—namely, poverty and extreme inequality, the fights for recognition of Peru’s indigenous populations, the debate over the role of the state vis-a-vis civil society, and other issues of little interest to Peru’s upper-middle and upper classes in general.

Conclusions One of the leading questions asked as part of this project concerns the relationships and interactions between Jews and non-Jews in Lima. Interviews and print documents show how family formation among Peruvian Jews by birth and Peruvians who were not born Jewish (who might convert as

71

See Shavei Israel’s website www.shavei.org.

113

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a result of marrying a Jew) is of great relevance to this small Jewish community. In fact, family formation is closely connected to other key issues, such as religion and religiosity, social capital, and national identities, making it a key ingredient in the study of the intersection between Jewishness and Peruvian-ness in Lima. The changes examined here, that is, the trend in conversions to Judaism in Peru and its relationship to family formation among Peruvians who were born Jewish and Peruvians who were not, deserve their own research projects, focusing on the role of women. For the sake of the discussion presented here, these findings are particularly relevant: a) The role of Peruvian Jewish women has not changed considerably in terms of community leadership or community religious life, where their role remains secondary. However, there is an increased acceptance within the community of non-Jewish men as the partners of Jewish women, signaling more agency among women and a slight decline in the role of men regarding the cultural and religious orientation of the household. This is the case of families formed by Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers, whose children attend the Jewish day school in Lima. As it is the central institution promoting Jewish socialization, non-Jewish fathers sending their children to the community’s school enter an indirect process of Jewish (re)education, even if they are not willing to convert (which is the norm among these men). b) There are differences between what the rabbis in the community consider legitimate conversion and the membership criteria that are actually followed by some people in the same organization. This means that religious conversion is, certainly, a valid path to enter the Jewish community, and yet, in order to be part of a small, organized Jewish Latin American community such as Lima’s, there is an additional requirement, namely, affinity. This affinity is elective in the sense proposed by Max Weber72—the rationalization of religion and belonging to it are upheld according to an affinity in lifestyle (both in terms of religiosity and professional activities). In other words, a Limeño Jew leading a secular life while affiliated to an 72

Michael Löwy and Heinz Wismann, “Max Weber, La Religion Et La Construction Du Social,” Archives De Sciences Sociales Des Religions 49, no. 127 (2004): 5-7, http://www. jstor.org.ezproxybib.pucp.edu.pe:2048/stable/30118774.

4. Elective Affinity and Changes in Family Formation

Orthodox congregation (as most community members are) seems to share more with a non-Jewish Limeño from the same social class than with an Orthodox Jew, Peruvian or not. Hence, conversion to Judaism works as a means to becoming part of a small Jewish Latin American community such as Lima’s, as long as class and lifestyle affinity are already present. Despite the fact that, according to Judaism, marriage is not reason enough to accept a conversion,73 Jews by conversion who actually become part of the Jewish community in Lima enter the community through this unrecognized means. In contract, conversions of Peruvian Jews from the provinces or conversions that are not the result of a marriage with a Jew by birth seldom produce new members of the Jewish community in Lima, as is the case of the Jews from Cajamarca or the Jews from Amazonas.

73

Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 24b. Available at The Sefaria Library (https://www. sefaria.org/texts).

115

5.

From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

Jewish participation in the public sphere in Peru is evasive. At first glance, it seems that the organized community has, overall, refrained from publicly acting in national politics. Yet, there are some instances in which participation has taken place, either as a collective or at an individual level. Access to national politics might indicate how permeable a society is. The experience of Limeño Jews in this realm, as a minority group, is noteworthy as it shows how Peru began a slow process of democratization in the twentieth century, most significantly after the social transformations of 1968.1 How was this participation back when Peru was ruled by an oligarchic society? What changed in the aftermath of the social transformations of 1968? How have Peruvian Jews entered the national public sphere in the last few decades?

Visiting National Politics: The 1940s The first cases of Jewish involvement in Peruvian politics have been examined in two books by two Peruvian authors.2 One of the works was published in 2014 and describes the involvement of immigrant Jews in Peru’s

1

Balbi and Arámbulo, “La recomposición de las clases medias y el voto en el Perú.”

2

See Gonzales, La presencia judía en la izquierda peruana. Also, Trahtemberg, Participación del perú en la Partición de Palestina.

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

emerging leftist movement in the early twentieth century. The other documents the lobby that managed to persuade the Peruvian government to vote in favor of the UN Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947. Both instances feature Ashkenazi immigrants and their descendants. These immigrants brought, on the one hand, political ideas from parts of Central and Eastern Europe; on the other, they brought with them deep concerns regarding the condition of Jews in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century. From the standpoint of the Jewish organized community, participation in politics has been traditionally focused on Zionism, the Jewish nationalism that emerged in Europe in the late nineteenth century.3 For this reason, the Zionist Federation of Peru had a central role in the organization of the community immediately after the creation of the umbrella organization, the Jewish Association of Peru. Indeed, the Zionist Federation founded the Jewish day school in Lima and was the key player in getting Peru’s vote in favor of the partition plan. Given the efforts of this group of men, it might be fruitful to revisit this episode, as it reveals the agency and reach these immigrants had in Peru’s political system. It should also be added that their initiative responded to exclusively Jewish interests. In the course of three conversations, interviewees explained how the main work consisted in getting contacts or networking. That is, instead of using democratic channels, they had to persuade the decision makers through a network of professional contacts in the highest echelons of Peruvian diplomacy, quite possibly because there were no other means of seeing their interests met in as weak and unstable democracy as Peru’s. Indeed, even in the early twenty-first century it is hard to tell whether there is a democratic culture in Peru. It cannot be inferred solely by holding elections (uninterrupted since 2001), since most candidates run with groups that do not function as political parties.4 Who, then, had access to the kinds of powerful people who could put Peru’s political support behind Israel at the United Nations General Assembly in 1947? The answer is twofold. On one hand, a small number of Jewish 3

Sachar, The Course of Modern Jewish History (Vintage: New York, 1990).

4

See a report by the UNDP, La democracia en el Perú: proceso histórico y agenda pendiente (Lima: PNUD, 2006), http://repositorio.minedu.gob.pe/bitstream/ handle/123456789/421/238.%20La%20democracia%20en%20el%20Per%C3% BA%20Proceso%20hist%C3%B3rico%20y%20agenda%20pendiente.pdf ? sequence=1&isAllowed=y.

117

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Gente como Uno

businessmen, mostly immigrant, had already acquired wealth and power by the 1940s. One of them, perhaps the most influential, was a Yekke who owned a successful business. The other one was an Ashkenazi Jew, allegedly the first Jewish lawyer to get his degree in Peru, making him the first Jew to have connections to influential non-Jews in Peru.5 The latter worked at the law firm of Manuel Cisneros Sánchez, who would then, in the 1950s, become president of the Ministers Cabinet and minister of foreign affairs.6 Both the lawyer and the businessman had been part of the committee that pushed for the creation of the Jewish Association of Peru as an umbrella organization which was legally public in 1944. Moreover, young students and recent college graduates from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos were also building networks with professors who were close to government officials. These contacts, created at campus and within the business milieu, would grant the members of the committee access to President Jose Bustamante y Rivero, ultimately getting Peru’s support for Israel. For instance, a person who was key to the goals of the Committee for Hebrew Palestine (Comité Pro-Palestina Hebrea) and the Committee for the Creation of a Hebrew School (Comité Pro-Colegio Hebreo) was Manuel Beltroy, a university professor at Universidad Nacional de San Marcos’ School of Law, which was sympathetic to the Jewish cause in Palestine, and who was also fully behind the creation of the Jewish day school, as was noted earlier. Other contacts were made at the School of Law, as some professors worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of them, Alberto Ulloa, happened to be Peru’s representative at the UN General Assembly in 1947. Networking and lobbying did not secure the vote until the very last moment. The same reasons that played in their favor—having acquaintances and a certain degree of religious cultural sympathy—weighed against them. According to the testimony of one of the leaders of the committee, Peru’s President José Luis Bustamante y Rivero had a close friend from his youth

5

Zwilich, Vendedor de chismes, 20.

6

According to Leon Trahtemberg, the Jewish lawyer was a business partner of the influential Peruvian lawyer. See Trahtemberg, Participación del Perú en la Partición de Palestina, 117.

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

in Arequipa who was an “Arab.”7 As a token of appreciation and friendship, President Bustamante promised his compadre8 to vote against the partition plan, thus rejecting the proposal that aimed at creating a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian one (for Muslim and Christian Arab populations). In addition, there was another influential diplomat who needed to be persuaded, Víctor Andrés Belaunde, who had warned that Peru would vote according to the pope’s instructions.9 These claims required the lobby to extend its reach to Peru’s representative in the Vatican, showing once more the role of religion in the political decisions of high-ranking state officers in Peru. Curiously enough, Peruvian support for the Jewish cause was gained rather indirectly. Peru’s economic dependency on the United States, relevant until the late 1960s, seems to have benefited Jewish efforts. For instance, Pedro Beltrán, one of the most prominent businessmen in the cotton industry and a visible representative of Peru’s oligarchy,10 was a strong supporter of the Jewish State. He also participated in politics and ran a newspaper during the first half of the twentieth century.11 In the 1940s, Beltran served as Peru’s ambassador to the United States, which was seen by members of the Committee for the Establishment of a Hebrew Palestine as advantageous. In that same period, the organized efforts towards the creation of a Jewish national state and other such efforts received financial contributions from large American companies operating in Peru, such as the Southern Copper Corporation,12 thus advancing the Jewish endeavor to found a sovereign nation. In short, some politicians and influential people in Lima had the notion that Jews had a special connection with the United States; this, I think, could have benefitted the image non-Jews from the dominant classes had of Jews in general. Furthermore, the sympathetic view some intellectuals and powerful people (the landowners and traditional families that held vast economic

7

Interview #10.

8

Compadre is a Spanish word denoting a special bond of solidarity among two men. Similar to being a godfather.

9

Interview #10.

10

Contreras and Cueto, Historia del Perú contemporáneo.

11

Klaren, Nación y sociedad en la historia del Perú.

12

Interview #10.

119

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Gente como Uno

and political power in Peru) had towards the United States13 and its capitalist culture, positively influenced the success of community projects led by the Zionist Federation of Peru, such as the creation of a Jewish day school in Lima. As a matter of fact, the imagined connections between Jews (worldwide) and the United States and between Jews and transnational capitalist networks was behind the first Peruvian Jew becoming a minister several decades later.

The Transition to the Public Sphere Peruvian Jews underwent a process of insertion into the country’s political life in parallel to what other immigrant minorities experienced during the same period.14 These processes began in the 1960s, with the 1968 military coup as a widely acknowledged landmark, signaling the “crisis of the regime of oligarchic domination,”15 in part because the military stopped supporting the dominant classes.16 According to Peter Klaren, between the decades of 1930 and 1960, the military, which until then had been a conservative organization whose officers mainly came from the upper classes and whose real goal was to preserve oligarchic power, was transformed into a more “progressive” institution, socially based on the middle and lower-middle classes, increasingly pushing for social reform.17

Indeed, the most symbolic of social reforms would come about with the execution of the new regime’s Agrarian Reform Law, “based on influences as diverse as Christian democratic cooperativism, Marxist collectivism and Andean traditional communal spirit (the ayllu).”18 This scenario

13

Cotler, Clases, Estado y nación en el Perú. Also, Klarén, Nación y sociedad.

14

Cuche, “Los palestinos en el Perú.” Also, Morimoto, Los japoneses y sus descendientes en el Perú.

15

Cotler, Clases, Estado y Nación en el Perú, 295.

16

Carlos Contreras and Marina Zuloaga, Historia mínima del Perú (Madrid: Turner Publicaciones, 2014), 250.

17

Klaren, Nación y sociedad en la historia del Perú, 410. The translation from Spanish into English is mine.

18

Ibid., 419.

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

found Jews thriving in a rising middle class, mostly as business owners, according to interviewees. Unlike the dominant classes right before 1968, an interviewee born in the early 1960s claims that “we were not ‘gente como uno [people like us], GCU.’19 We became a little bit ‘GCU’ with the Agrarian Reform.”20 This does not mean that Jews were directly affected by the reform, which expropriated land from hacendados in order to secure its redistribution among peasants. Peruvian Jews were not usually involved in land-related economic activities and none of them were farming landowners. Nevertheless, Jewish businessmen, as members of the middle class, sided with the oligarchy since they felt they were facing a ‘common threat’ from a ‘socialist’ state that was changing the rules of the game without producing the desired results.21 According to another interviewee, it is precisely after the coup of 1968 and its reforms that Jews felt for the first time that they were just like other groups that had become powerful among Lima’s business class. This interviewee, born in the 1930s, became a prominent businessman about a decade before the time of the reforms. In his view, when he was young, in the 1950s, “there were not as many rich [Jews in Peru] as there would be later on [. . .] there were not as many Jewish businessmen owning large businesses.”22 After the military coup, “things changed within la colonia [the Jewish community] and without.”23 One of the effects of this apparent clash between the military government and the land- and business-owning elite was that “Peruvian society became much more open [to Peruvians from nonelite backgrounds].”24 Since some Jewish businessmen also felt threatened by the nationalist and protectionist regime, this interviewee felt that, all of a sudden, “we [Peruvian Jews and upper-class Peruvians] were together: we had the same interests, the same issues and the same enemies.”25 19

The expression ‘Gente como Uno,’ sometimes abbreviated to its initials, is often used to state the separation between the upper classes and the lower classes in Lima.

20

Interview #22.

21

Thorp and Bertram, Peru: 1890-1977. Crecimiento y políticas en una economía abierta, 394.

22

Interview #9.

23

Ibid.

24

Ibid.

25

Ibid.

121

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Gente como Uno

Ultimately, the levelling up of Jews with other groups came to pass as the old oligarchy was being challenged, thus allowing for new actors to enter the corridors of power, on the one hand, and creating a ‘common enemy’ in a socialist military government, on the other. What some perceived as a crisis was a source of opportunity to others. One interviewee, an engineer born in the 1930s actually got a managerial position at a government ministry during Juan Velasco’s dictatorship. This might have made him the first Jew to occupy a position such as this, and an example of new actors entering power through contacts created either as university students or as professionals. The stepping stone for Peruvian26 Jews entering the public sphere came at a time when the landowning oligarchy was partly replaced by a new dominant class including new actors, such as Jews, who would take part in national politics—not as professional politicians, however, but as businessmen.

The Emergence of Advocacy One doorway through which Peruvian Jews could enter the public sphere was actually provided by the community itself and was inspired by the change in status of the State of Israel in the aftermath of the Six Day War. The Jewish Association of Peru, in the midst of Peru’s left-wing military dictatorship in the 1970s, founded the Committee for Public Relations (Comité de Relaciones Humanas). The committee was responsible for providing the Jewish community with advice regarding state-community relations and media criticisms of Israel. The creation of the committee is a landmark in Jewish life in Lima, as it shows how strong the Jewish Association of Peru had become. It could now face down media attacks on Israel. Up until that moment, community leaders had refrained from confronting the media because they felt vulnerable, given that the immigrant generation faced linguistic barriers and had few influential outside contacts. The creation of a committee handling the Jewish community’s position regarding media expressions of criticism towards Israel and demeaning comments about Jews in general signals the agency that first-generation,

26

Interview #7.

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

Peruvian-born Jews had, and how they felt it was their duty to represent the interests of Israel in Peru, even though Israel had diplomatic representation in the country relatively early on. The committee also marks the slow and progressive beginning of visibility for Jews in Lima and the need to define how that visibility was to be understood. Even though the committee would usually only act during events pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1970s, antisemitism in the media occasionally found in the 1990s when referring to powerful Jews in the business world, demanded its attention as well. Through the committee, Limeño Jews proved how different they were from the immigrant generation in terms of power and access to it. For instance, during the left-wing military dictatorship Lima hosted a congress for Jewish communities, which dealt with the hardships faced by Jews in the USSR. The Jewish community in Lima, through its Committee for Human Relations, had to request permission from the military government to host the event and was granted it. This was perceived as a victory, considering that almost every country in the region in 1972 was under military rule. In the first decades of the twenty-first century, the committee has mainly worked on Hasbara, that is, promoting pro-Israel views in reaction to anti-Israel sentiments. It usually contacts the media and argues against what seems to be tendentious reporting on Israel or other Jewish-related events.

Neoliberalism, Globalization and the Benefit of Having Transnational Ties Despite their status of newcomers or first generation Peruvians, interviewees suggested that “there has always been someone [within the Jewish community] who had a contact in government.”27 Some of these contacts were created through business. For instance, in the 1930s and 1940s, there was a Jewish family who owned a shop right by the town hall and interviewees have suggested that this family, which decades later would become one of

27

Interview #11.

123

124

Gente como Uno

the wealthiest in Jewish Lima, had made influential acquaintances during their tenure as shopkeepers.28 Other contacts were made through professional activity. That is how at least two Jews ended up working at some important offices within the Ministries of Fishing and Trade. Yet other Jews entered the public sphere through political associations, having become militants in the 1960s. One of them served many public offices before becoming the prefect of Lima (a municipal office) and the other one occupied the highest executive offices at Peru’s national bank, Banco de la Nación, and at its petroleum company, PetroPerú. However, Jews rarely sought public offices, and they were not encouraged to do so by the organized community, which was seeing the second generation of Peruvian-born Jews become adults and the immigrant generation disappear. In 1993 Peru had a Jewish minister of foreign affairs. For the first time in the country’s history, a non-Christian occupied a high-ranking public position. Indeed, during the ceremony in which Efraín Goldenberg was sworn in, protocol was set aside because the new minister did not kneel and did not swear before a crucifix (it was removed temporarily until the next member of the cabinet’s turn). This happened just a few blocks away from the site on which, centuries before, people who had shared the minister’s religion had been persecuted through Lima’s branch of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Goldenberg’s position made members of the Jewish community in Lima proud, particularly those who, like Goldenberg himself, were affiliated to the Unión Israelita del Perú. The Ashkenazi congregation’s monthly Shofar noted that having a Jewish government official was ‘unprecedented’ in the history of the community in Lima. At the same time, the notion that a Jew had such a visible and powerful government role was a source of anxiety to some because of the level of scrutiny he would have as a minister who was also openly Jewish. Some interviewees recalled that in the 1990s people feared that if he got involved in some kind of scandal he would be quickly dubbed ‘the Jewish minister,’ a weight that the community as a whole would bear. An interviewee who was born in Lima in the 1940s and whose parents had left Germany before the rise of Hitler linked the ambivalence the community experienced after

28

Interview #1.

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

of Goldenberg’s success to what had happened in Germany between the end of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth century. In his own words, “if the politician fared well, he was Peruvian: if he fared poorly, he was Jewish.”29 Curiously, this shared responsibility was similarly experienced by another Peruvian minority, the Japanese community (particularly the nisei, or the generation born in America to Japanese immigrants), as soon as an immediate descendant of Japanese immigrants became President of Peru in 1990. It is worth pointing out that for a brief moment the Japanese community in Peru faced anti-Asian threats, especially after President Fujimori’s self-coup (autogolpe) in 1992. One of the Japanese community’s reactions was to seek advice from the Committee for Human Relations at the Jewish Association of Peru. The Japanese knew that the Jewish community had experience defending itself from potential attacks. Efraín Goldenberg, the first Peruvian Jew to serve as a minister, is a prominent businessman who was invited to work in national politics because of the professional and personal connection he already had with one of the main actors within Fujimori’s political circle, Jaime Yoshiyama. Goldenberg, for whom Yoshiyama used to work, was recruited by the government with the specific goal of reinsert Peru into the financial and business markets around the globe. His was not, then, a diplomatic mission. Goldenberg’s performance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was followed by, once Fujimori was reelected in 1995, a designation as president of the Council of Ministers, a higher position than his previous one. Such political achievements reinforced the mixed feelings of pride and fear in the Jewish community, and interviewees agree that Goldenberg’s participation in public office did not benefit the Jewish community in any obvious way.30 In 1995, the public performance of Efraín Goldenberg even made it into the yearly speech given by the president of the Unión Israelita del Perú, the Ashkenazi congregation, during the High Holidays. A transcript of the speech reads as follows:

29

Interview #18.

30

Interviews #14, 9.

125

126

Gente como Uno

It is also a source of pride and satisfaction for our Kehila31 that one of our distinguished members has deserved the high honor of being appointed by the government to serve as President of the Council of Ministers and as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I naturally refer to Efraín Goldenberg, who knew how to perform this difficult task with much efficiency [. . .] even though he was stepping on grounds covered by banana peels, and some people were expecting him to slip. However, he kept a low profile, and knew how to follow through the difficult mission that was entrusted to him and which Peruvian history will highlight.32

Hence, the 1990s were a period of increased local visibility (as perceived by the Jewish Association of Peru) in the framework of a wave of antisemitic attacks on an international scale, as Europe’s extreme-right movements were organizing and terrorist group such as Hezbollah were carrying out attacks on Jewish buildings, the AMIA bombing being the most significant in Latin America. In contrast, Goldenberg’s attainment of high office was a major step towards collaboration between people in the government and a few members of the organized community in Lima. As a result, the new constitution of 1993, drafted after Fujimori’s self-coup (autogolpe), includes a ‘Jewish’ contribution, which was inspired by Israel’s education system, namely, mandatory preschool education. It was proposed to the Congress of the Republic of Peru by León Trahtemberg, the Jewish day school’s principal at the time, and by Eduardo Bigio, head of the Committee for Human Relations.33 In 2001, a new government was democratically elected and Peru had a Jewish first lady. Eliane Karp, a Belgian Israeli emigré and the wife of President Alejandro Toledo, was not born in Peru and, as a foreigner, she seemed to have little in common with Limeño Jews or Lima’s upper-middle and upper classes. Moreover, Karp was never affiliated to the Jewish Association of Peru. When asked about President Toledo, the views of interviewees differ. According to one interviewee, a businessman born in the 1940s, President

31

Kehila is the Hebrew word for ‘community.’

32

Norbert Feiger, “Speech of the President of the Unión Israelita del Perú,” Shofar no. 13 (Lima: the Unión Israelita del Perú, 1995).

33

Eduardo Bigio, “Aporte en favor de la educación y la lucha contra la discriminación en el Perú” (unpublished manuscript, n.d).

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

Toledo had close Jewish friends who also had intense relationships with Israel. This might explain why, during his administration, Israelis were hired to provide services to the state. However, the same interviewee claims that Toledo’s relationship with the organized Jewish community in Lima was not good exactly. In his view, “the institutional relations with the community were disastrous.”34 In fact, the ties Alejandro Toledo kept with Israeli citizens (as advisors and security detail) occasionally damaged the image of Jews in Peru, which was already relatively fragile due to some Peruvian media outlets. An example is the September 19 edition of the weekly Caretas.35 The magazine’s cover featured a photoshopped version of former President Toledo dressed as a Haredi36 Jew six pages were devoted to Toledo’s ties to Israelis. At the time (2013), Toledo was being investigated and the magazine speculated about his potential asylum in Israel.37 The article shows how little knowledge some reputed journalists have about Jews in general and about Israeli society in particular. The cover shows Toledo and the caption reads: ‘Shalom Posible,’ a play on the name of Toledo’s party, Perú Posible. It then reads: “Alejandro Toledo, Israel and the Promised Land.” What is troubling is that Toledo was being investigated for money laundering and corruption, and his association to an ultraorthodox Jew resonates with historical forms of antisemitism. In any event, the main intention of the text is to make the reader suspect that because Toledo’s wife is an Israel citizen, he can get citizenship there. The convenience of finding asylum in Israel, which did not happen, is summarized by the writers as follows: “There they do not let their citizens go,”38 meaning that Israelis cannot be deported for trial.

34

Interview #14.

35

“Ajustando el Kipá,” Caretas, September 19, 2014, http://www2.caretas.pe/Main. asp?T=3082&idE=1119&idS=251#.Wt5Hwy7waM9. There’s no author.

36

Haredi, which literally means “pious,” is a name commonly used to refer to an ultraOrthodox Jew.

37

At the time of writing this book in 2018, Alejandro Toledo was a fugitive from Peruvian justice in the United States. Defying speculation, the former president has not been granted asylum in Israel. See https://elcomercio.pe/politica/ alejandro-toledo-cumple-ano-profugo-situacion-noticia-494645.

38

“Ajustando el Kipá,” 13.

127

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Gente como Uno

As well as a Jewish first lady, President Toledo had a vice president who, just like Efraín Goldenberg, belonged to the organized Jewish community in Lima and entered politics after a successful business career. In fact, David Waisman, who served as Peru’s second vice president during the Toledo administration, had been an active member of Peru’s National Industry Society (Sociedad Nacional de Industrias).39 During that time, he also served as minister of defense and as congressman, a position he was elected to once again in 2006. During that period, Jacques Rodrich, another Jewish businessman was elected to Congress having run as a member of Toledo’s political party Perú Posible. It was during Waisman’s tenure as second vice president that something unheard of took place at the Government Palace. The chief executive officer of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, made an official visit to Peru accompanied by a delegation. President Toledo was abroad, so David Waisman hosted the event as president ad interim. The participants at the gathering included leaders of the Jewish Association of Peru and the visitors. Thus, for just one morning, there was an official meeting over breakfast in the Government Palace at which every participant was Jewish. One interviewee who attended the event and discussed it during their interview made the following comment: “if I had told my grandfather [this same story], he would not have believed me.”40 In addition, during Toledo’s administration, the Publishing Fund of the Congress of Peru brought out a book featuring nineteenth-century family pictures of Jewish families in the country. The compilers of the book had assembled it in the 1980s but had not been able to publish it due to a lack of financial support. One of Toledo’s closest friends, a businessman affiliated to the Jewish Association of Peru, helped the project become a reality in 2002 under the title El eterno retorno (The eternal return). It addresses the early Jewish presence in Peru and was prepared by two cousins who share a Jewish immigrant relative but are not themselves involved in community life.41 The book was released at an presentation event in Congress. Jews and

39

See David Waisman Rjavinsthi’s CV, July 2007, Retrieved from http://www.congreso. gob.pe/congresista/2006/dwaisman/_hoja-vida.htm.

40

Interview #22.

41

See the books written by León Trahtemberg which were published with community funding in the 1980s, listed in the reference section of this book.

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

non-Jews discussed Jewish life in Peru and their contributions were later collected in a Publishing Fund book. This sudden interest in Peruvian Jews appeared at a time when the history of other immigrant groups was becoming of interest. The online catalogue of the Publishing Fund shows publications from 1997, that is, the second consecutive government of Alberto Fujimori. From a review of the catalogue, it might be inferred that the fact that the president was a direct descendant of immigrants helps explain the increasing interest in publishing testimonies on immigration. Between 1999 and 2005, the Publishing Fund put out three books on Chinese immigration to Peru; two on Japanese immigration; two on Africans in Peru; two on Italian immigrants; two on Jews in Perus; and one on Arab immigrants. Between 2006 and 2013, two new works on Arab immigration to Peru were published (perhaps reflecting the increased participation of Peruvian Arabs in national politics), and another one on African immigration and slavery.42 What used to be considered different and other became visible in the public sphere and demanded public reassessment, even though Peru remains a highly stratified society in which differences are yet to be respectfully accepted. Jewish participation in national politics did not end with Toledo. Indeed, the next presidential campaign would mark the first time in which an acting community leader entered the scene. In the 2006 election campaign, presidential candidate Ollanta Humala made anti-Israel declarations and his father, Isaac Humala, who was frequently interviewed by the media, was openly critical of the Jewish State, a topic rarely broached in Peruvian politics. This caught the attention of Limeño Jews and raised concern among the Jewish Association of Peru. The then-president of the Jewish Association of Peru, Isaac Mekler, publicly declared that Humala was “a sheep in wolf ’s clothing.”43 Concerned about scaring away potential backers, Ollanta Humala approached community leaders and told them he was not an antisemite. During the campaign, the committee invited Ollanta Humala to meet prominent Jewish businessmen and community leaders. At that meeting,

42

See the online catalogue of publications from the Congress of Peru’s Publishing Fund, accessed June 11, 2021, http://www.congreso.gob.pe/fondoeditorial/catalogo.html.

43

Joe Goldman, “Peru’s Jews Watch Election Closely,” JTA, 23 May, 2006, https://www. jta.org/2006/05/23/life-religion/features/perus-jews-watch-election-closely.

129

130

Gente como Uno

Humala requested collaboration to gather active support of citizens.44 Not only was Isaac Mekler, president of the Jewish Association of Peru at the time, inspired by that meeting to join Humala’s party and run for Congress, Salomón Lerner Ghittis, the head of the Committee for Public Relations, also began a professional relationship with the politician, which led to Lerner being hired as campaign manager for Humala’s second run in 2011, when he won the election. Lerner was named president of the Council of Ministers at President Humala’s inauguration. This episode warrants recalling because, unlike previous instances in which Jews took part in national politics in Peru, this time community leaders met a presidential candidate and took the opportunity to enter politics, albeit not as community representatives but, rather, as individual citizens. This was hardly the only meeting prominent members of the Jewish community have held with presidential candidates. According to an interviewee who was born in the late 1940s and has served many times as community leader, on every election campaign, the Committee for Public Relations of the Jewish Association of Peru holds meetings with those candidates who have a chance to win the election.45 The candidates usually present their government’s plan at the meeting. Businessmen, community leaders, and the ambassador of Israel to Peru are among those attending. The 2016 election campaign only featured one Peruvian Jew, José Chlimper, who ran as vice president with Keiko Fujimori, losing the election to Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. However, Keiko Fujimori’s party won the majority of seats in Congress, resulting in Chlimper being chosen to take a seat on the board of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru (BCRP). Chlimper is a prominent businessman who had served briefly as a congressman during Alberto Fujimori’s second administration, which only lasted from July to November 2000, when Fujimori fled the country and resigned amid a series of accusations of corruption and human rights abuses. From the 1990s onward, then, there have been Peruvian Jewish businessmen actively involved in politics. Two of them entered politics after having served as community leaders, while the rest did so after having been involved in industry associations. None of them represented the interests of the Jewish community or those of groups outside the business realm. Even

44

Interviews #11 and 22.

45

Interview #11.

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

though their participation in national politics generated in some a feeling of being “exposed” to the outer world, it did not create significant divisions within the community, especially once a new generation, born in the 1960s and 1970s, assumed its leadership.

Conclusions The involvement of Limeño Jews in Peruvian politics has gone through at least three different stages. The first one is marked by the concern over the fate of the Jewish people worldwide while facing a series of threats, among them antisemitism in Europe and the Middle East, the most striking of which were Nazism and the Final Solution. In that context, immigrant Jews to Peru founded an organization built on a transnational connection with an ‘imagined community’ around the world. This organization allowed Jewish life to flourish in an unexpected place, while traditional communities around the world attacked and destroyed. This organizational structure showed agency early on: immigrants managed to understand how politics worked in Peru and in gained Peru’s support for the partition of Palestine in 1947 and the creation of a Jewish day school in Lima. In parallel, some immigrants got involved in the debate revolving around Peru’s social problems in the first half of the twentieth century, by comparing the exclusion of disadvantaged groups in Peru to the experience of persecution faced by Jews in Europe.46 The next stage is marked by the social reconfiguration of Peru’s middle classes and its business class, as a result of the crisis of the old ruling oligarchy in the 1960s. It began with the creation of a committee that would represent Jewish interests in a broad sense in the context of an empowered post-1967 Israel. Some Peruvian Jews did occupy public offices between 1968 and 1992. Yet, only in the 1990s would a Peruvian Jew be granted an office as high as a ministry, and only in the 2000s would a Peruvian Jew would become a congressman for the first time. This stands in contrast to Brazil, which by the 1930s had a Jewish deputado, who would later become minister of finance.47 By the end of the 1950s, Argentina had Jews serving in high public

46

Gonzales, La presencia judía en la izquierda peruana.

47

Elkin, The Jews of Latin America, 92.

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office as well.48 It seems, then, that the experience of a smaller community in a weak democracy and a highly stratified society in the public sphere differs in terms of access to public office from that of immigrant societies in countries like Argentina and Brazil. The third stage is strictly Peruvian, in that Jews entered politics having become prominent businessmen, just like many other Peruvian citizens who have served in Congress and other public offices. Even though two Peruvian Jews who occupied important public offices had been militants of Partido Aprista Peruano in the 1960s and 1970s, most Peruvian Jews entering politics did so as businessmen instead of pursuing a political career. Despite what has been said above, it is striking that while Jews represented 0.006% of Peru’s population in 2014 and 0.022% of the population in Lima,49 at least twelve Jews held high-ranking public positions between the 1990s and 2018, some of whom occupied more than one office. I am here thinking of the following people: Efraín Goldenberg (minister of economics; president of the Council of Ministers; minister of foreign affairs); David Waisman (Second vice cresident and Congressman); Salomón Lerner Ghittis (president of the Council of Ministers); David Lemor (minister of production); José Chlimper (minister of agriculture); Moisés Wolfenson (congressman); Isaac Mekler (congressman); Jacques Rodrich (congressman); Daniel Schydlowsky (superintendent of banking, insurance, and pension funds); Jacobo Mishkin (prefect of Lima); Jaysuño Abramovich (president of PetroPerú and director of BCRP); and the only woman in the group, Silvia Pessah (minister of health). There have also been Jews who have served in lower public positions, such as vice ministers and a municipal councilor, at least since the military government of Juan Velasco Alvarado that began in 1968. It is also remarkable that some Peruvian Jews have been key players in the intersection between the business class and the public sphere, once these opened up to new groups, from the mid-1980s on. Just like President Fujimori, ministers, congressmen, and allies close to power would be the first in their families to have been born in Peru and to enter politics, thus 48

Ibid., 261.

49

According to Peru’s Statistics and Informatics National Institute (INEI), in 2014 there were 30,814,175 inhabitants in Peru and 8,751,741 of them lived in Lima. These calculations are based on the common claim that about 3,000 Jews were living in Lima from the mid-1980s until the early twenty-first century.

5. From Immigrants to Peruvians: Jews in the Public Sphere

breaking the traditional and otherwise necessary link between ancestry, Catholicism, and power.

Fig. 6. Efraín Goldenberg (right) stands next to president Alberto Fujimori and first lady Susana Higuchi.

Fig. 7. David Waisman (right) and president Alejandro Toledo.

Fig. 8. Salomón Lerner (right) and president Ollanta Humala.

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6.

Final Remarks

Throughout this book I wanted to address Peruvian-ness from the perspective of Jewish Peruvians—or Peruvian Jews—in Lima, based on the experiences of a group of actors from different generations. I explored changes in Jewish life in the city of Lima, where a small Jewish community established an umbrella organization that has been actively operating since the mid-1940s to this day. I found it useful to frame and discuss these changes in light of the process of secularization and its effects; of social transformations in Peru beginning in the second half of the twentieth century; and in terms of new ideas about deterritorialization and the transnationality of certain forms of belonging and identification. I have tried to identify the key moments shaping Jewish life in Lima in connection with events taking place worldwide, as table 3 shows. This, I hoped, would point to meaningful processes regarding the intersection between Jewishness and Peruvian-ness, more specifically, between Jewishness and being Limeño or Limeña, from a sociological point of view. These forms of identity intertwine in a way that can be discussed within a larger framework, extending to debates within the fields of religious studies, cultural studies, and studies on minorities, ethnicity, and class in Latin America. Focusing on how the Limeño version of Jewishness has been constructed in the seventy years from 1944 to 2014, the following topics have been identified as serving the main narrative presented here: a) the division of the public and private spheres from the viewpoint of Jewish Limeño experience; b) relationships between Jews and non-Jews in Lima; c) the importance of sharing a transnational connection and

6. Final Remarks

a cos-mopolitan approach to belonging in the context of globalization and of adherence to multiple nations1; d) changing views on citizenship.2 I found that the Limeño version of Jewishness is tied to the complexity with which the process of secularization has made its way in Lima and how this has been different from what has happened elsewhere. In this sense, I found that the experience of a very small Jewish population (roughly two thousand) in a large city (nine million)3 is determined by the sense of being a twofold minority, paradoxically enjoying ‘majority status.’ In other words, Jews in Lima are a minority because they are not Catholic, like 75% of Peruvians. They are also a minority because they do not belong to any of the reformed churches that have managed to attract about 17% of former Catholics in Peru.4 Moreover, they are a minority because neither they nor their customs and practices are really represented by larger Jewish communities around the world, not even those that are most representative of Latin American Jewry, an already underrepresented subgroup within Jewish populations. Yet, having collectively inserted themselves into the upper-middle classes in a postcolonial society, they hold ‘majority status,’ that is, find their interests met and enjoy some of the implicit privileges of being deemed ‘white’ in this largely nonwhite population. This is a case that supports the notion that “[e]thnicity, then was never only about social culture, it was about economic culture as well.”5 In this scenario, I found that the organized community has a prominent role as Jewish life in Lima tends to gravitate towards it. Indeed, it is safe to say that the Jewish Association of Peru almost monopolizes those resources that make Jewish life possible in the country, unlike what might 1

Lesser and Rein, “Motherlands of Choice.”

2

Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights.

3

“MEF autoiza liquidación del Banco de Materiales por Pérdidas financieras,” La Republica, 24 May, 2019, http://larepublica.pe/ sociedad/849113-inei-lima-cuenta-con-9-millones-752-mil-habitantes.

4

Pew Research Center, “Religion in Latin American: Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region,” November 13, 2014, http://www.pewforum.org/2014/11/13/ religion-in-latin-america/.

5

Jeffrey Lesser, Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999), 7.

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be the case for other, larger Latin American communities, where Judaism has become part of the religious landscape in cities in which such communities operate.6 Understood as the separation of religion from the public sphere, the process of secularization has allowed for Jews, as non-Christian/non-Catholic Limeños, to be part of the upper-middle and middle classes in the city. As religious adherence ceased to be a guarantee of morality and social status, stigmas attached to being Jewish gave way to new forms of social differentiation working in a completely different direction. Thus, the notions of deicide, supersessionism, or replacement theology exit discourse in favor of new terms related to Jews, now thought of as having a shared “spiritual bond” and as partners in “fraternal dialogues.”7 Hence, the changes embraced by Vatican II have resulted in a change of status of Jews in traditionally Catholic societies such as Lima’s. The process of secularization was also felt rather early by this community as most Jewish immigrants to Peru were somewhat secular before arriving in the still predominantly Catholic country. According to testimonies collected, there were only a few immigrant men who could perform religious services during the first decades of the twentieth century and the community has never had anything even remotely close to a Peruvian rabbi serving in Lima.8 Hence, early signs of secularization experienced by immigrants who arrived in a country in which Jewish life was incipient to nonexistent are at the origins of Jewish life in Lima. These experiences help explain why it might have been easier for these immigrants and their descendants to enter the middle classes first, and then the upper-middle classes in Lima, since the usual barriers that stand between observant Jews and society at large were absent almost from the beginning. Indeed, Peruvian Jews have only recently been able to observe a set of religious precepts, thanks to globalization and the influence of the religious revival worldwide. As a result, Jews have successfully entered professional, political, and family relationships with Limeño non-Jews from the upper-middle class.

6

Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein, “New Approaches to Ethnicity and Diaspora in Twentieth-Century Latin America,” in Rethinking Jewish-Latin Americans, ed. Jeffrey Lesser and Raanan Rein (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2008).

7

Pope Paul IV, “Declaration.”

8

To the best of my knowledge, there is only one Peruvian rabbi, serving in Belgium.

6. Final Remarks

At the same time, secularization in terms of changes in the relationship between lifestyle and the expression of religious beliefs has generated mixed reactions among more religious groups in contemporary Judaism. For instance, the presence of a Chabad Lubavitch representative in Lima since the late 1980s is one such reaction. Chabad Lubavitch does not formally belong to the Jewish Association of Peru and offers rival services to the formal umbrella organizations so as to lure Limeño Jews into religious observance. Along the same lines, the reaffirmation of Orthodoxy as the religious denomination of two out of three religious congregations within the Jewish Association of Peru is a reaction to the perceived threat of the disappearance or transformation of all forms of social difference that keep Jews different from society at large. Choosing Orthodoxy, as most religious institutions in Lima have, including the day school just recently, does not mean that Limeño Jews are indeed Orthodox Jews. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Limeño Jews are not observant. Yet, Orthodoxy is the denomination of choice because it has become a means of legitimizing and validating certain forms of cultural expression that are recognized worldwide. Orthodoxy as a choice provides the community with arguments to define membership criteria while remaining part of a transnational network of ‘Kosher-style’ Latin American Jews. The contemporary process of postsecularization, that is, the return of religion to the public sphere, most notably in Israel and other, nearer parts of the world such as Argentina, has had yet another effect on the small community in Lima. As of the late 1980s, the community has consistently hired rabbis and school teachers through the Jewish Agency who identify with religious Zionism, thus introducing issues related to Israeli politics into organized Jewish life in Lima. Elements from the public sphere, then, are intertwined with more intimate, private ones. Since all these tasks are performed by the same foreign envoys, Israeli politics at large, the Shoah and reparations, and the Arab-Israeli conflict are part of the same message that aims at transmitting the Jewish religious and cultural legacy, the preservation and reconstruction of memory, language, and so forth. Jewish culture in Lima rests upon the contents of the messages these envoys come to deliver and their reinterpretation is conditioned by the experience of a secular, upper-middle-class Latin American minority.

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The Limeño version of Jewishness thus has estranged itself from the identity configuration set by the immigrant generation. This, I find, is typical of smaller communities, as they usually do not have enough immigrants from the same place of origin and lack the resources to maintain those memories and customs that preserve inner social differentiation. In Lima, even though there have been up to four Jewish congregations (one of them unrelated to ethnic origins and immigration), differences among them do not rest on the style of living embraced by the majority of their congregants. That explains why there are Ashkenazi congregants at the Sephardi congregation and why the Ashkenazi congregation is more than pleased to hire Sephardic rabbis. It also seems to explain why the former Yekke congregation is now the congregation for families formed by Jews by birth and Jews by conversion, indicating, then, that the main difference between congregations is membership criteria (ancestry for Jews by birth and adherence to religious precepts for Jews by conversion). Another key difference has to do with the religious preferences of the rabbis, their families and a small group of expat religious families, or the few Peruvian families which have recently opted for observing Jewish religious precepts. As has been mentioned throughout the book, the first Peruvian-born generation of Jews came of age at a time when social transformations in Peru placed religious minorities such as Jews in a position that made their professional, economic, and social insertion somewhat easier than that of their parents and grandparents, who founded the organizations that would eventually become the Jewish Association of Peru. Behind these easier paths toward financial and social stability I discovered the following: the changes embraced by the Catholic Church after Vatican II; the social transformations in Peru after Juan Velasco Alvarado’s military regime; the founding of a Jewish State in Israel; the reinforcement of ties between the young Jewish State and the United States; and other events that shaped the ways in which Jews viewed themselves and the ways in which they were viewed by society at large. The vindication of Jews, decades after the Shoah and outside of Europe, combined with their inherently transnational connection and the perceived association of Jews and capitalism, has become a source of affinity with Lima’s upper-middle class, as they associate cosmopolitanism and capitalism with the elite.9

9

Guibernau, Belonging.

6. Final Remarks

Class affinity, lifestyle, and worldview help Jews enter the dominant classes, but they themselves forge entry barriers for Jews by conversion coming from less affluent backgrounds and Jews by conversion who do not marry Jews by birth. That is the case of the Jews of the Amazon or the Jews of Cajamarca, a Peruvian province in the northern Andes, who despite converting to Orthodox Judaism do not join the community in Lima and leave for Israel in order to lead Jewish lives. Class affinity among Limeño Jews and Lima’s upper class has also resulted in changes in family configuration within the organized community in Lima. According to the testimonies collected, couples made of a Jew by birth and a person who was not born Jewish were relatively common from the moment immigrants arrived in Peru. Until the 1990s, usually Jewish men married Peruvian women who had not been born Jewish while remaining affiliated to the Jewish community. Some of these marriages resulted in the non-Jewish partner (more often than not, a Catholic woman) converting to Judaism in order to guarantee their children’s belonging to the community. It was extremely rare for Jewish women by birth to marry non-Jewish men while remaining in the community. Starting in the 1990s, it has become acceptable and common for Peruvian women who are Jews by birth to marry non-Jewish Peruvian men who seldom convert while remaining within community boundaries. Table 2 shows how these attitudes have shifted, according to the testimonies collected. This change is a byproduct of the replacement of ascription by choice in religious identity. It signals a challenge to the patriarchal structure of both Lima’s upper classes and the Jewish community insofar as belonging ceases to depend exclusively on men. Inside the community, this change has had a deep effect in the definition of membership criteria. It has more than just redefined the denomination of the city’s religious congregations, demanding the adaptation of one congregation to include families of Jews by conversion who do not adhere to Orthodoxy. It has also created divisions among community leaders, which became highly visible when a community center was planned in the late twentieth–early twenty-first century. Furthermore, this change in membership affects the way the Jewish day school admits new students, even though the school belongs to a network of private, not-for-profit schools in Lima, which makes it part of the public space. Since the school is the most effective Jewish socializing institution within Jewish organized life in Lima, it is striking that it requires a commitment to convert from non-Jewish mothers, whereas no such commitment has ever been requested from non-Jewish fathers.

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Table 2 Changes in Attitudes Towards Family Formation Among Jews and Non-Jews in Lima According to Gender Before the 1990s Jewish Woman

Non-Jewish Woman

Jewish Man

Highly desirable (regardless of ethnicity).

Undesirable, but quite common. Some of these marriages led to conversion to Judaism.

NonJewish Man

Undesirable and extremely rare. Happened mainly outside of organized community life, without leading to conversion to Judaism.

From the 1990s onward Jewish woman

Non-Jewish Woman

Still highly desirable.

Still quite common, mostly acceptable. Some marriages lead to conversion, others do not.

Mostly acceptable and increasingly, common. Seldom leads to conversion to Judaism. Ideally, with member of upper-middle class.

6. Final Remarks

As a matter of fact, the impact of the integration of Limeño Jews is reflected in the issues revolving around the school. One such issue is the need to verify the background (class, religion) of the families of prospective students, as the new registration form shows. Also, there is a constant debate on the feasibility of admitting non-Jews to the school in order to make it financially viable, based on the experiences of several Jewish schools and preschools in other Latin American cities, instead of exclusively serving Jewish Association affiliates. Moreover, the school depends on envoys from the Jewish Agency and, more recently, on Argentine Jewish teachers in order to offer its students Jewish education; and yet, it also represents an aspiration to keep a transnational connection, which is valued by uppermiddle class Limeños in general. Along the same lines, the school has recently become IB certified, thus keeping in line with the professionalization that other private schools in Lima are pursuing. Both at the organizational level and the individual level, participation in the public sphere has become a distinctly Peruvian experience, as opposed to the idealized version of a continuum between the immigrants and their descendants encouraged by some community leaders. There is, however, a strong sense of Jewish transnational connection felt by the Jewish Association of Peru, as they tend to prioritize Jewishness over Peruvianness. This is to be understood in the postnational context, in which having dual nationalities and multiple ‘motherlands’ is a marker of social status, particularly in Latin America. Also, Peruvian nationalist sentiment is rarely shown as the relationship between the state, the nation, and its citizens is disputed.10 Thus, even if at the collective/community level the Jewish version of Lima has always been permeated by a transnational connection, this has been the case mainly because this connection reassures the collective’s favorable social status. This connection helped Jews in Peru put their agency to test, from the 1940s onward, as Peru’s vote for the partition plan proves. Had Jews not been associated to the United States and had the United States not been positively appreciated by the Peruvian elites of the

10

See Alberto Flores-Galindo, “La tradición autoritaria. Violencia y democracia en el Perú,” in Sombras coloniales y globalización en el Perú de hoy, ed. Gonzalo Portocarrero (Lima: Red para el Desarrollo de las Ciencias Sociales en el Perú, 2013); also, Gonzalo Portocarrero, Oído en el silencio (Lima: Red para el Desarrollo de las Ciencias Sociales en el Perú, 2010), 325.

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first half of the twentieth century, Jewish agency in Peru would have possibly not been as effective as it was. After the creation of the State of Israel and once it secured strong ties with the United States, the transnationality of Limeño Jews became an even more valuable asset in terms of status, particularly since globalization has challenged nineteenth-century notions of citizenship and nation.11 Indeed, this valuable transnational connection is reinforced by Peru’s own globalizing process. For instance, in 2015 Lima hosted the annual meeting of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund. Janet Yellen and Stanley Fischer attended the meeting while serving as chair and vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. During their visit, they went to Lima’s Jewish Museum with officers from the Bank of Israel. The visit was featured at the community’s weekly bulletin. In contrast, at the individual level, the participation of Limeño Jews in national politics seems disconnected to the transnational and the community. At least eleven Jewish Peruvians have been appointed or elected to prominent public offices between the mid-1980s and the mid-2010s. Some of them only entered politics after having first become successful businessmen, as is the case with many non-Jewish Peruvians as well. Two of them entered politics after having served as community leaders, without effectively influencing community affairs. These findings allow a modest broadening of the available views on small Jewish Latin American communities, questioning these communities’ official discourses. This being a little-explored topic, I found that the case of Jewish Lima shows how Orthodox Judaism has become an asset for a reduced, mostly secular Jewish population needing to preserve its social differentiation as Peruvians and acknowledgement as Jews. Also, it seems that the organized Jewish community serves different purposes in large Latin American cities with reduced Jewish populations in comparison to large cities with relatively large Jewish populations. The small community serves as a resource center and as model for Jewish life. In large Latin American cities with large Jewish populations, Judaism as a religious and ethnic culture seem to have integrated into the city, independent from the ways in which individual Jews have integrated. Hence, there are Jewish neighborhoods, Jewish films, theatre, and literature; there is a Jew-

11

Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights.

6. Final Remarks

ish presence in the press, in food, in public spaces (monuments, schools, synagogues, street festivals, etc.). In contrast, smaller communities in large cities depend more on organized community centers to foster and preserve Jewish historical memory and religious culture. The role of the organized community for such small populations is crucial because it provides Jewish resources (such as kosher food, education, etc.) and, just as important, a transnational connection granting status and distinction. Future approaches to Jewish Lima should “decenter”12 the view and compare this minority with others while addressing the process of becoming Peruvian. In parallel, they should address the reconfiguration of the relationship between citizens and Peru as a postcolonial nation. Along these lines, a comparative analysis of the experiences of Peruvian minorities should bear in mind the singular case of Jews, since their transnational connection to Jews around the world makes them similar to immigrant minorities (that is, non-Spanish Europeans, Asians, and others coming from differentiated ethnic backgrounds); and religion establishes a proximity to other minorities, Christian and non-Christian. This duality makes Jewish Latin Americans from small communities an interesting focus when studying identity formation and minorities in the region.

12

Harriet Hartman and Debra Kaufman, “Decentering the Study of Jewish Identity: Opening the Dialogue with Other Religious groups,” Sociology of Religion 67 no. 4: 365-385.

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Table 3 Chronology of Landmarks for the Analysis of Jewish Limeño Organized Life, 1944-2014 Year

International/Israel

1944

Last year of the execution of the Final Solution by the Nazi regime.

Perú/Lima

Government of President Manuel Prado y Ugarteche (1939–1945).

Lima’s organized Jewish community

The Association of Israelite Societies (the Jewish Association of Peru) is publicly registered. Creation of the Committee in favor of a Hebrew school.

1945

1946

End of the Second World War. Liberation of concentration camps. Many survivors go from prisoners to displaced people, until 1950.

Government of President José Luis Bustamante y Rivero (1945–1948).

Invasion of the San Cosme hill in Lima. Beginning of the first barriadas or city slums.

Creation of the Peruvian Committee advocating for the creation of a Hebrew Palestine. The Jewish Vanguard Youth, the precedent for the Hanoar Hatzioní Youth Movement in Lima, is founded.

The first Jewish school in Peru, Colegio León Pinelo, initiates activities in the working class district of Breña. The children of nineteen Jewish families attend the school.

6. Final Remarks

Year

1947

International/Israel

The United Nations General Assembly approves the partition. Plan for Palestine, ending the British Mandate and proposing the creation of two independent states, one Jewish and one Arab and a special international regime for Jerusalem.

Perú/Lima

The Confederation of Peasants of Peru is founded.

The Seelisberg Conference declares the Ten Points of Seelisberg, setting a precedent for the Nostra Aetate Declaration.

1948

End of the British Mandate in Palestine, originally established by the League of Nations in 1922. The Jewish population of Palestine declares the Independence of the State of Israel. The next day, the armed forces of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and other Arab countries invade the territory.

Coup d’état executed by then minister of government, General Manuel Odria and by high-ranking army officers. A period of “complete integration into the international [economic] system” begins. From 1948 to 1968 there is a period of export-based growth.

Lima’s organized Jewish community

145

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Year

International/Israel

1949

Immigration of Jews from Arab lands to Israel.

1950

1952

Perú/Lima

Lima’s organized Jewish community

The association of volunteer ladies, Pioneer Women Organization of Peru, is founded.

Manuel Odría gets reelected as President of Perú

Peru signs a pact of military assistance with the United States

Colegio León Pinelo is moved temporarily to a different location in the middle-class district of Jesús María (1950-1954) Rabbi Abraham Shalem arrives in Perú, as the first rabbi hired by the Sociedad Israelita de Beneficencia Sefaradí

Construction of a new building to house the Jewish day school begins in the neighborhood of Orrantia del Mar, in the upper-middle class district of San Isidro.

6. Final Remarks

Year

International/Israel

Perú/Lima

Lima’s organized Jewish community

1953

Inauguration of the extra-official Ashkenazi synagogue, Adat Israel (led by the most visibly observant family, the Mandels). The synagogue was located in the working class district of Breña, two blocks away from the premises of the Unión Israelita del Perú, the main Ashkenazi congregation

1954

Bnai Brith Peru is established

1955

1956

Migratory waves of North African Jews to Israel. In the next few years, increasing Arab nationalist sentiment would motivate the virtual disappearance of the Jewish communities of the Magreb

The Sinai War

Second government of President Manuel Prado (1956–1962) Beginning of the fishing boom in Peru

The social, cultural, and sports association Hebraica is established

147

148

Gente como Uno

Year

International/Israel

Perú/Lima

Lima’s organized Jewish community

Rabbi Lothar Goldstein becomes rabbi at Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870.

1957

The Federation of Peasant Laborers from La Convención y Lares (FTC) is created. Stepping stone for peasant movement in the Peruvian highlands

1958

The great synagogue of the Unión Israelita del Perú is built in the middleclass district of Jesus María Círculo Social y Cultural Sharón, the ‘VIP’ Ashkenazi synagogue is established The Jewish home for the elderly, Bikur Jolim, is established

1959

A monument honoring the victims of persecution in Europe is opened in the Jewish cemetery

1961

The Eichmann Trial begins in Jerusalem

The district of Villa María del Triunfo is created as a solution to the problem of access to housing facing Lima’s impoverished masses, many of whom were internal migrants from rural areas

6. Final Remarks

Year

International/Israel

Perú/Lima

Lima’s organized Jewish community

Government of Military Rule (1962–1963)

1962

The Second Vatican Council begins

Eight new private universities are created within the framework of a series of reforms in higher education Peasant movement in the Andes led by Hugo Blanco

1963

The Palestine Liberation Organization is founded

Presidency of Fernando Belaunde Terry (1963–1968). The first project for the first law of Agrarian Reform is submitted; strong opposition in Congress

1964

Pope Paul VI visits Israel

End of the period of religious leadership of Rabbi Moisés Brener at the Unión Israelita del Perú, after having served for thirty years

1965

The Second Vatican Council ends. The Nostra Aetate Declaration is issued, condemning antisemitism, rejecting Jews’ responsibility for the death of Jesus

Clínica Javier Prado is founded. It is a medical clinic in which most physicians are Jewish

149

150

Gente como Uno

Year

1967

International/Israel

Six Day War

Jews in the Soviet Union struggle as their political situation deteriorates 1968

War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, PLO, Jordan, and allies (19671970)

Perú/Lima

Abimael Guzmán, future leader of terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, comes back to Peru after having spent three years in Maoist China

Military dictatorship of General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968-1975)

1969

Implementation of the Plan of Agrarian Reform and nationalist-oriented policies

1970

The Communist Party in the Shining Path of Mariategui is founded (Sendero Luminoso)

1971

Lima’s organized Jewish community

The Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí hires Rabbi Abraham Benhamu, who will lead the congregation for the next five decades and will become Peru’s chief rabbi

The Jewish Association of Peru’s Committee for Public Relations is created

6. Final Remarks

Year

1972

International/Israel

Munich Massacre

Perú/Lima

The General Law of Education, D. L. 19326, is issued

Lima’s organized Jewish community

Because of article 320 of the new General Law of Education, Colegio León Pinelo must admit non-Jewish students. From the second half of the 1980s, the school will exclusively serve members affiliated to the religious congregations of the Jewish Association of Peru Lima becomes the venue for the Congress of Latin American Jewish Communities

Yom Kipur War 1973

OPEC generates the first oil crisis Coup d’état. General Francisco MoralesBermúdez becomes president (1975– 1980)

1975

1976

Operation Entebbe Constituent Assembly elections. Transit towards democracy begins

1978

1979

Israel signs its first peace treaty with a bordering country, Egypt

The constitution of 1979 issues granting voting rights to illiterate citizens

151

152

Gente como Uno

Year

International/Israel

Perú/Lima

Lima’s organized Jewish community

Second presidency of Fernando Belaunde Terry (19801985)

1980

First terrorist attack attributed to Sendero Luminoso

1982

1984

First Lebanon War

Israel rescues thousands of Ethiopian Jews in Operation Moses

León Trahtemberg is hired as the Jewish day school’s pedagogical supervisor (similar to principal), a position he will occupy for almost twentyfive years

6. Final Remarks

Year

1985

International/Israel

Perú/Lima

Presidency of Alan García (1985–1990).

Lima’s organized Jewish community

During the first presidency of Alan García, Jaysuño Abramovich, politically active as a member of APRA, is named president of the Board of Petroperú and then becomes director of the BCRP The Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 hires the services of Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein, a disciple of Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, alumnus of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano.

153

154

Gente como Uno

Year

1987

International/Israel

Beginning of the First Intifada (19871991). Hamas is founded

Perú/Lima

Economic crisis. The yearly rate of inflation reaches 1.722%. In 1988, it reaches 2.776%

1991

The Unión Israelita del Perú hires Rabbi Yaacov Kraus, the first in a series of Israeli, nationalistOrthodox rabbis to serve the Ashkenazi congregation Zionist Youth Movement Betar stops operating in Lima after a good number of its members made aliyah. The only surviving youth movement in Peru is Hanoar Hatzioní. Beit Chabad Lubavitch is founded in Perú, sponsored by members of the Unión Israelita del Perú

1989

1990

Lima’s organized Jewish community

Gulf War (19901991). Dissolution of the Soviet Union

Israel leads another operation rescuing Ethiopian Jews

Presidency of Alberto Fujimori (1990–1995).

6. Final Remarks

Year

International/Israel

Perú/Lima

Lima’s organized Jewish community

First attempts at uniting the three congregation due to a dwindling population. The chevra kadisha and the home for the elderly are merged

1992

Hezbollah executes a terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Self-coup, the constitution is suspended and Congress is closed down Abimael Guzmán, the founding leader of the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, gets captured

The Committee for the Third World of the World Jewish Congress and Bnai Brith organize a manifestation against Neo-Nazism and a wave of antisemitism worldwide. Important Peruvian public figures attend the event in Lima The Japanese organized community in Peru seeks advice from the Jewish community after the self-coup of President Fujimori in order to protect themselves from anti-Asian attacks

155

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Year

1993

International/Israel

Oslo Accords. The Palestinian National Authority is created

Perú/Lima

Efraín Goldenberg is designated minister of foreign affairs, becoming the first Jew to occupy such a high office Democratic Constitutional Congress. A new constitution is issued

Hezbollah leads a terrorist attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) 1994

Peace treaty between Israel and Jordan Baruch Goldstein perpetrates a massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron Second presidency of Alberto Fujimori (1995-2000)

1995

Itzhak Rabin is murdered by a Jewish fundamentalist Oslo II Accord

1996

Efraín Goldenberg is designated president of the Council of Ministers, the highest political rank ever held by a Jew in Peru up to that point

Lima’s organized Jewish community

6. Final Remarks

Year

International/Israel

Perú/Lima

Failure of the Camp David talks

Third presidency of Alberto Fujimori (July–November 2000). Interim presidency of Valentín Paniagua (20002001)

1998 1999

2000

Second Intifada (2000-2005) Pope John Paul II visits Israel

Presidency of Alejandro Toledo (2001–2006). 2001

9/11 attacks

2004

Yasser Arafat dies

2005

Disengagement

2006

Second Lebanon War

2008

David Waisman, a Peruvian Jew, is elected second vice president of Peru

Second presidency of Alan García (2006–2011).

International financial crisis Gaza War (20082009).

2009 2010

2011

Presidency of Ollanta Humala (2011–2016)

Lima’s organized Jewish community

157

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Year

International/Israel

2012

Operation Pillar of Defense

2014

Pope Francis visits Israel and the occupied territories of the Palestinian Authority

Perú/Lima

Lima’s organized Jewish community

President Ollanta Humala makes an official visit to Israel

Israel-Gaza conflict

Being Jewish in Lima: The Testimonies I have already stated that the Jewish community in Lima, including both affiliated and unaffiliated to the umbrella organization, is rather small. This creates a unique situation in which people living in a highly stratified, large metropolitan city with nine million inhabitants, feel like they are actually living in a small town. Many Limeño Jews live in the neighborhood of San Isidro or in districts that are immediately adjacent to it, since San Isidro is where most of the community buildings are in the twenty-first century. This means that it is usually common for Limeño Jews to run into one another when buying groceries, eating out at a restaurant, or even going to the beach in Lima. There is, then, a sense that everyone ‘knows each other,’ something that was explicitly stated during the interviews. This ‘small town’ situation puts the researcher in a difficult position because revealing only two or three details of an interviewee’s profile, despite keeping his or her identity a secret, could be highly compromising. Hence, I will try to present a scant depiction of each interviewee’s profile that will hopefully allow the reader to understand the background, perspective and position of each interviewer while keeping their identity private and unrecognizable by other Limeños. Aside from a series of print sources and informal talks, the main source of data used throughout the book are the testimonies of twenty-seven men

6. Final Remarks

and women who either witnessed the creation of an umbrella Jewish organization in Lima, were raised in the framework of its institutions, became members as adults, and/or were active leaders of the organization. Tables 4, 5, and 6 show the list of interviewees according to age and origin. These are their stories. Cohort #1: Born before 1939 Interviewee #1 was born in Germany yet his parents were originally from Poland. He was a child when his family emigrated to Peru in the 1930s, motivated by the persecution Jews faced in Europe. Once in Peru, he attended a public school and lived in the working-class district of Breña. He did not go to university and worked in sales his entire life. An Ashkenazi Jew, he married an immigrant Sephardic woman who worked as a homemaker. Their children, born in the 1950s, attended the Jewish day school. Their grandchildren, born between the 1970s and the 1980s did so as well. Interviewee #2 was born in Lima. His parents immigrated from the former Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century, after having spent some time in France, as was the case for a number of Sephardic immigrants at the time. His family belonged to Lima’s middle class and he went to college to become a physician. He then married another first-generation Peruvian Jew, the child of Ashkenazi immigrants. His children attended the Jewish day school. Interviewee #3 was born in Germany and emigrated to Peru in the 1930s. His family belonged to the working class but managed to send him to college. He became a professional in the health sciences. His children attended the Jewish day school and left the country as adults. Interviewee #4 was born in Lima in the 1930s. Her parents immigrated from the former Ottoman Empire, after having lived in Western Europe for a few years. They were an affluent family before immigrating and owned very successful businesses once in South America, thus entering the uppermiddle class in Lima rather early on. As a child, she attended a Methodist school for girls. She married a Sephardi and worked along with him in the family business. Her children and grandchildren attended the Jewish day school. Interviewee #5 was born in Lima in the mid-1920s, the daughter of Ashkenazi immigrants from Eastern Europe. She married an Ashkenazi immigrant who fled the Jewish persecution in Eastern Europe. She worked

159

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helping her husband and as a homemaker, and they were successful in their business endeavors. Some of her children left the country as adults. Her grandchildren attended the Jewish day school. Interviewee #6 was born in Eastern Europe and left Europe after the war, during which he was enslaved at a concentration camp. He became a successful businessman in Lima and was also an active community leader serving more than one organization within the Jewish Association of Peru. His children and grandchildren attended the Jewish day school. Interviewee #7 was born in Western Europe, the son of Sephardic immigrants from the former Ottoman Empire. The family arrived in Peru when he was a young child, rapidly joining the ranks of the middle class. He went to college and became an engineer. His children and grandchildren attended the Jewish day school. Interviewee #8 was born in a town near Lima. Her parents came from the former Ottoman Empire. His parents spoke Ladino at home. Although a Sephardic Jew, she married an Ashkenazi Jew from Lima. She worked as a homemaker and her children, born in the 1950s, attended the Jewish day school in Lima. Her grandchildren attended the Jewish day school as well. Interviewee #9 was born in the late 1920s in a provincial town of Peru’s coastal plains. His family immigrated from Eastern Europe. He went to college and got a degree in Law. Yet, he made a career in business and became very successful. His children attended the Jewish day school whereas his grandchildren did not. Interviewee #10 was born in Eastern Europe in the 1920s and arrived in Lima as a child. He went to college and became a physician. He was engaged in community leadership from a young age. His children attended the Jewish day school. Interviewee #11 was born in Lima in the 1930s. His family immigrated from the former Ottoman Empire. He went to Law school in Lima but dealt mostly in business. He was involved in community leadership for most of his adult life. His children attended the Jewish day school. Cohort #2: Born between 1940 and 1959 Interviewee #12 was born in Lima in the 1940s, the son of Ashkenazi immigrants. He studied engineering in college but worked in business and politics most of his life. He married another Peruvian-born Ashkenazi Jew and

6. Final Remarks

his children attended the Jewish day school. He also served as community leader. Interviewee #13 was born in a Northern town on the coastal plains in the 1940s. His father was an Ashkenazi Jew who came from Eastern Europe while his mother was a Peruvian Catholic. He attended the Jewish day school when it first opened. He left Peru after finishing high school. He became a college professor and an artist. Interviewee #14 was born in Lima in the 1940s. Both of his parents immigrated from Eastern Europe. His family belonged to the middle class and he went to law school in Lima. He pursued a career in business and politics. His children attended the Jewish day school in Lima. Interviewee #15 was born in a provincial city in Southern Peru in the late 1940s. His father was an Ashkenazi immigrant from Eastern Europe whereas his mother was born in Peru, the daughter of Sephardic immigrants. His family was affluent and he left the country in the 1960s. He later on became an artist. Interviewee #16 was born in Lima in the late 1940s. His father immigrated from Eastern Europe and his mother was a Peruvian Ashkenazi Jew. He attended the Jewish day school and so did his children. He studied engineering but, like many Jewish men from his generation, became a businessman. He was an active community leader during the 1980s and 1990s. Interviewee #17 was born in Lima in the late 1930s. Her parents immigrated as children, from Eastern Europe. She married another Peruvian-born Ashkenazi Jew, a physician. She worked as a homemaker and her children attended the Jewish day school. Her grandchildren did not attend the Jewish day school. Interviewee #18 was born in Lima in the early 1940s. His parents were immigrants from Germany, arriving in Peru in the early 1930s. They were highly educated. He got a degree in economics and has held high-ranking official posts throughout his career. Cohort #3: Born between 1960 and 1975 Interviewee #19 was born in Lima in the early 1960s. He is a second-generation, Ashkenazi Peruvian Jew, from the upper class. He studied engineering at college and pursued a graduate degree in business. He works in the family business, a powerful corporation, and has served as community leader.

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He married another second-generation Peruvian Jew, albeit Sephardi. His children attended the Jewish day school. Interviewee #20 was born in Lima in the 1970s. She was not born Jewish and was raised Catholic. Her family belongs to the upper class and she graduated from a Catholic school. She studied business management and is a business entrepreneur. She married a second-generation Peruvian Jew who comes from a family of both Catholic and Jewish ancestry. She converted to Judaism before having children. Her children do not attend the Jewish day school. Interviewee #21 was born in Lima in the 1970s. She is a second-generation Ashkenazi Peruvian Jew. She was raised within the community and graduated from the Jewish day school. She studied psychology and works in that field. She comes from a well-off family of both Jewish and Catholic ancestry. She married a Catholic Peruvian from the upper class. Her children attend the Jewish day school. Interviewee #22 was born in Lima in the 1960s to immigrant Sephardic parents from the Americas. He was raised within the community and graduated from the Jewish day school. He studied engineering and then went on to pursue an MBA, in another country. He works at his family’s business, which is now a big corporation. He has served as community leader. He married an immigrant Jew from the Americas. His children attend the Jewish day school. Interviewee #23 was born in Lima in the 1960s. He is also the son of immigrant Sephardic parents. He attended Lima’s Jewish day school. He got a degree in Engineering and has worked in business most of his adult life. He married another Peruvian Jew from the community. He has served as community leader and his children attend the Jewish day school. Interviewee #24 was born in Lima in the late 1960s. Her mother is an immigrant Ashkenazi Jew from the Americas and her father is a nonJewish European immigrant. She graduated from the Jewish day school in Lima. She left the country in order to pursue an art degree. She is a successful artist. Interviewee #25 was born in Lima in the 1960s. His parents are firstgeneration, Ashkenazi Peruvian Jews. He graduated from the Jewish day school and left the country in order to pursue undergraduate studies in business. He married another second-generation Peruvian Jew. He works at a Jewish-owned business corporation and has served at the community’s leadership. His children attended the Jewish day school.

6. Final Remarks

Interviewee #26 was born in Lima in the 1960s. His father is a firstgeneration, Peruvian-born Sephardic Jew, whereas her mother was not born Jewish. She graduated from the Jewish day school and left the country in order to pursue undergraduate studies in social sciences. She underwent a conversion to Judaism. Interviewee #27 was born in Lima in the 1960s to a Catholic family. She converted to Judaism in order to marry a first-generation Peruvian Jew. She studied media and communications and has a successful career. Her children attended the Jewish day school.

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Table 4 Interviewees from Cohort #1 (Age over 75)

Age*

1

83

2

Gender

Interview no.

164

Occupation

Origin

Others

M

Businessman

Ashkenazi

Immigrated as a child.

90

M

Physician

Sephardi

3

86

M

Dentist

Yekke

4

80

F

Businesswoman

Sephardi

Born in Lima; daughter of immigrants

5

86

F

Home-maker

Ashkenazi

Born in Lima; daughter of immigrants

6

80

M

Businessman

Ashkenazi

Immigrated as a teenager after WWII

7

79

M

Engineer

Sephardi

Immigrated as a child

8

86

F

Home-maker

Sephardi

Born in a town other than Lima; daughter of immigrants

9

83

M

Businessman

Ashkenazi

Born in a town other than Lima; daughter of immigrants

10

68

M

Physician

Ashkenazi

Immigrated as a child.

11

78

M

Businessman

Sephardi

Born in Lima; son of immigrants Immigrated as a child

Born in Lima; son of immigrants

Total (N= 11) Note. Interview #1was conducted by León Trahtemberg in 1988 in the framework of a research he was doing. I am indebted to León Trahtemberg for giving me access to this tape, as it contains very detailed descriptions of events that are central to this book. Had the interviewee been alive today, he would be over ninety-five years old, which is why he would belong to cohort #1. *Age at the time of the interview.

6. Final Remarks

Age*

12

68

Gender

Interview no.

Table 5 Interviewees from Cohort #2 (51 to 74 Years Old)

Occupation

Origin

M

Public Administrator

Ashkenazi

Born in Lima; son of immigrants

Ashkenazi

Born in a town other than Lima; son of an immigrant and a Peruvian

Ashkenazi

Born in Lima; son of immigrants

13

66

M

Academic/ Writer

14

67

M

Businessman

Others

15

64

M

Artist

Ashkenazi

Born in a town other than Lima; son of an immigrant and a Peruvian

16

63

M

Businessman

Ashkenazi

Born in Lima; son of an immigrant and a Peruvian

17

73

F

Homemaker

Ashkenazi

Born in Lima; daughter of immigrants

18

72

M

Public Administrator

Yekke

Born in Lima; son of immigrants

Total (N= 7) Note. During interview #13, the wife of the interviewee entered the conversation. Having been born and come of age in Lima between the 1940s and 1950s herself, her views complemented the interview. *Age at the time of the interview.

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Table 6 Interviewees from Cohort #3 (40 to 50 Years Old)

Age*

19

51

20

Gender

Interview no.

166

Occupation

Origin

M

Businessman

Ashkenazi

40

F

Businesswoman

Converted to Judaism

21

43

F

Psychologist

Ashkenazi

22

49

M

Businessman

Sephardi

Born in Lima; son of immigrants

23

49

M

Businessman

Sephardi

Born in Lima; son of immigrants

24

45

F

Artist

Ashkenazi

Born in Lima; daughter of immigrants

25

47

M

Businessman

Ashkenazi

26

47

M

Educator

Sephardi

27

50

F

Communications

Converted to Judaism

Total (N= 9) *Age at the time of the interview.

Others

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Index

Abramovich, Jaysuño, 132, 153 Agrarian Reform Law, 120–121, 149, 150 Alvarado, Juan Velasco, 79, 132, 138, 150 Amazon, Jews of, 139 American Jewish Committee, 128 AMIA bombings, 126 Anderson, Benedict, 34 Arequipa, 119 Argentina, Jews in, 17, 20–21, 22, 32, 36, 47, 54, 55, 66, 67, 91, 131–132, 155 Asociación Judía de Beneficencia y Culto, 50, 53–56, 96–97, 148, 153 ayllu, 120 Banco de la Nación, 124 Barrios, Adolfo, 76 Belaunde, Víctor Andrés, 119 Belaunde Terry, Fernando, 149, 152 Beltrán, Pedro, 119 Beltroy, Manuel, 72, 118 Benhamu, Abraham, 16, 52, 58, 59, 150 Berger, Peter, 42, 43 Berman Jewish Data Bank, 25 Betar, 154 Blanco, Hugo, 149 Blumer, Herbert, 27 Bnai Brith Peru, 147, 155 manifestation against Neo–Nazism, 155 Bnei Moshe, 53, 69 Brazil, Jews in, 17, 22, 32, 36, 47, 66, 91, 131–132 Brener, Moisés, Rabbi, 61–62, 149

Bronstein, Guillermo, Rabbi, 55, 153 Bustamante y Rivero, Jose, 118, 144 Cajamarca, Jews of, 139 El Callao, 27 Caretas, 127 Carlos Ausejo, 10 Casanova, Jose, 43 Central Reserve Bank of Peru (BCRP), 130, 132, 153 Los Cedros Street, 13 Chabad Lubavitch, 48, 64–66, 137, 154 Chile, Jews in, 22, 36 Chlimper, Jose, 130, 132 Cisneros Sánchez, Manuel, 118 Colegio San Silvestre, 85 Comité de Relaciones Humanas (Committee for Public Relations), 122, 130, 150 Comité Pro–Palestina Hebrea (Committee for the Establishment of a Hebrew Palestine), 118, 119, 144 Comité Pro–Colegio Hebreo (Committee for the Creation of a Hebrew School), 118, 144 Congress of Latin American Jewish Communities, 151 Confederation of Peasants of Peru, 145 Conservative, see Masorti Constitution of 1979, 151 Costa Rica, Jews in, 56 Cuba, Jews in, 17, 91 dati–leumi, 62 Durkheim, Émile, 43 Norberto Eléspuru Street, 13

174

Index

El eterno retorno, 128 Federation of Peasant Laborers from La Convención y Lares (FTC), 148 Fujimori, Alberto, 22, 125–126, 129–130, 132, 133, 154, 156, 157 autogolpe, 125, 126, 155 Fujimori, Keiko, 130 García, Alan, 153, 157 General Law of Education, 151 Goldenberg, Efraín, 124–126, 132, 133, 156, 157 Goldstein, Lothar, 148 Government of Military Rule, 149 Guatemala, Jews in, 56 Guzmán, Abimael, 150, see also Sendero Luminoso Hanoar Hatzioní, 26, 144, 154 Harris, David, 128 Hasbara, 123 Hebraica, 26, 147 Higuchi, Susana, 133 Humala, Isaac, 129 Humala, Ollanta, 129–130, 133, 157, 158 inquisition, 11 Tribunal in Lima, 11, 47 heresy accusations, see judaisantes, 11 Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática, 24 Jewish Agency for Israel, 48, 68, 141 Jewish Association in Peru, 25, 37, 48, 51–53, 56, 66, 70, 84, 88, 118, 122, 126, 128, 129, 130, 135, 138, 141, 144, 151 Jewish Vanguard Youth, 144 Jews in Latin America Congress of Latin American Jewish Communities, 151 communal organization, 36–37 emphasis on Jewishness, 34–35 Jews in Peru, 32, 49 academic interest in, 17, 31 antisemitism, 21, 60, 93, 123, 126, 127, 129, 131, 149, 155

belonging and assimilation, 20–22, 32–33, 34–36, 38, 41, 43, 54, 85, 95, 134–139, 141–142 belonging in a Jewish community, 102–105, 107–108, 138, 139, 142–143 business and professions, 76, 78–79, 121, 123ff., 132, 138 censuses, 25 discreet Jewishness, 13 during secularization in Peru, 28, 32–33, 41–44, 60, 61, 62, 68, 80, 88, 105, 134–137 emigration, 64, 71, 81–82, 109–112 family formation in the past seventy years, 88, 90ff. heterogeneity, 66 Jewish identity in relation to Peruvian–ness, 18, 41–46, 52, 66–67, 73–74, 77, 79, 80–81, 134–138, 141 in global networks, 67–68, 137, 138, 141, 143 interfaith marriages, 54, 61, 88, 91–102, 107, 139–140 immigration, 28–29, 32, 47, 51, 54, 60–61, 66, 76 lack of visibility, 12 language, 76 mixed marriage, 97 participation in public sphere, 116–133, 134–137, 142 social classes and ethnographic background, 12, 18–19, 20, 32–33, 95, 98, 101, 109–115 white privilege, 38–41, 135 women, status of, 67, 79, 88, 93, 104, 114, 139 Zionism and attitude toward Israel, 51, 63, 73, 77, 87, 110, 111–113, 116ff., 126–128, 129, 137, 154 judaisantes, 11 Los Judíos Street, 10, 11

Index

Karp, Eliane, 126 Kashrut, 57, 62, 67 Klaren, Peter, 120 Kraus, Yaacov, 62–63, 154 Kuczynski, Pedro Pablo, 130 Lemor, David, 132 León Pinelo school, 12, 70–85, 103, 104, 105, 139, 141, 144, 146, 151, 152 Lerner Ghittis, Salomón, 130, 132, 133 Lesser, Jeffrey, 22, 30, 32, 35–36 El libro de oro: álbum social de Lima, balnearios y el Callao, 29 Lima, 10 Jews in, 11, 18–20, 22–24, 30, 32, 37–38, 80–81, 134ff. Ashkenazi Jews, 23, 49, 50, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 60–61, 64, 117, 118 community formation, 48, 56–57, 135, 138, 143, 155, 158ff. data collection and interviews, 24–29, 158–166 diversity, 49–50 education, 71ff., 85–86 Jewish periodicals, 24, 29, 62 Jews by conversion, 23, 27, 30, 34, 53, 56, 57, 61, 67, 88, 90ff., 97–98, 99, 102– 109, 112–113, 114–115, 138, 139 Sephardic Jews, 23, 49, 50, 52, 56, 58–59 Yekke Jews, 23, 48–49, 50, 51, 54, 118 neighborhoods barriadas, 144 Breña, 12, 144, 147 Cercado de Lima, 19 Chacra Colorada, 19 Chorillos, 28 El Chirimoyo, 19 Historic Town Center, 16, 19

Jesus María, 19–20, 63, 146, 148 Jirón Huallaga (Judíos), 11 Lince, 28 Miraflores, 19, 28 Orrantia del Mar, 28, 146 San Borja, 28 San Isidro, 11–16, 19–20, 28, 63, 70, 146, 158 Santa Beatriz, 16, 19 Villa María del Triunfo, 148 landmarks Bikur Jolim, 148 Clínica Javier Prado, 149 Jewish cemetery, 19, 148 Jewish Museum, 142 Parroquia Cristo Rey, 16 Parroquia Medalla Milagrosa, 16 synagogues, 16, 19–20, 147, 148 Mandels, 147 Los Manzanos Street, 13 Masorti movement, 50, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57–58, 68, 96–97, 104 May 1968 protests, 79 Mekler, Isaac, 129–130, 132 Meyer, Marshall, Rabbi, 53–54, 153 Moshe ben Maimon, Rabbi, 12 Maimónides Street, 12–13 Mexico, Jews in, 17, 47 minorities in Peru, 17–18, 20, 22–23, 24, 29–30, 39, 47, 129, 138, 143, 155 Mishkin, Jacobo, 132 Morales–Bermúdez, Francisco, 151 Los Naranjos Street, 13 Odria, Manuel, 145, 146 OLEI, 113 Orthodox, 45, 49, 50, 52, 54, 56, 61, 62, 64, 67, 68–69, 74, 94, 96, 104, 137, 139 Panama, Jews in, 36 Paniagua, Valentín, 157 Partido Aprista Peruano, 132 Juan Pese Street, 13

175

176

Index

Pessah, Silvia, 132 PetroPerú, 124, 132 Avenida Juan Pezet, 13 Pinelo, León, 12–13, 72 Pinelo, Diego, 72 Los Pinos Street, 13 Pioneer Women Organization of Peru, 146 Pedro Portillo Street, 13 Portocarrero, Felipe, 29 Javier Prado Street, 13 Prado y Urgateche, Manuel, 144 Publishing Fund of the Congress of Peru, 128–129 Felipe S. Salaverry Street, 13 Los Sauces Street, 13 Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano, 153 Sendero Luminoso, 150, 152 Shalem, Abraham, Rabbi, 146 Shofar, 29, 124 Six Day War, 122 Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí, 50, 58–59, 64, 146, 150 Sociedad Nacional de Industrias (National Industry Society), 128

Southern Copper Corporation, 119 Spanish Empire, 11, 46–47 Radzinsky, Michel, 76 Rein, Raanan, 22, 30, 32, 35–36 Rodrich, Jacques, 128, 132 Schydlowsky, Daniel, 132 Trahtemberg, Leon, 25, 28, 126, 152 Demografía judía del Perú, 25 Toledo, Alejandro, 126–128, 133, 157 Ulloa, Alberto, 118 Unión Israelita del Perú, 16–17, 49, 50, 53, 60–64, 88, 124, 125, 147, 148, 149, 154 Universidad de San Marcos, 12, 72, 79, 118 Uruguay, Jews in, 22, 36, 91 Velasco, Juan, 122 Venezuela, Jews in, 17–18, 36 Yom Kippur, 17 Yoshiyama, Jaime, 125 Waisman, David, 128, 132, 133, 157 Weber, Max, 39, 43, 114 Wolfenson, Mosés, 132 World Jewish Congress, 155 Zionist Federation of Peru, 117, 120