Shalom Life | May 26, 2014

Shalom, Santiago: A Jewish Culture Guide

The Jewish community of Santiago is large and thriving. Jews are well integrated into the framework of the city, and likewise, have played an integral component to the growth of Chile as a whole.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: September 24th, 2013 in Culture » Society » News

Shalom, Santiago: A Jewish Culture Guide
And we’re off, to anywhere and everywhere, as we say ‘Shalom’ every week to different global travel destination. World cities, provincial towns, and even the most unassuming of suburbs are infused with Jewish history and culture, some of which is waiting to be discovered.

For the pious follower, the curious traveler, or the intrepid adventurer, we’ll unearth the best of what to do and where to go. Be it an emerging subculture, a historical landmark, or simply a triumph of art in any form, Jewish experiences are found around the world; and likely as well in your backyard.

It may be in the destination, the journey, or the company, but there is much to uncover and celebrate near and far, so hurry up and get going.

Shalom, Santiago


The Jewish presence in Chile’s capital, Santiago, can be traced to 1535, when explorer Diego de Almagro claimed the country for the Spanish Crown. As the tale is told, amongst Almagro’s entourage included a Converso (Jews who converted to Christianity under the Inquisition) named Rodrigo de Ordoñez. Despite the long arm of the Inquisition being felt in the Spanish colonies (Santiago included) throughout the late 16th and 17th centuries, the Jewish settlement continued to grow, albeit, discretely.

It wasn’t until after Chile gained its independence in 1818, that the Jewish community in Santiago began to gradually establish itself. Once the 20th century rolled around, Jews began to increase exponentially in Santiago. Communal prayers were held for the first time n 1906, and likewise, the first Jewish organization in Chile, Circulo Israelita de Santiago was founded in 1909. It remains an integral component to Jewish life both in the city and country, at large. During the 1930’s, Santiago became a central hub for Jews in Chile, and the community began growing further.

Circulo Israelita de Santiago

The 1960’s were a peak period for Santiago’s Jewish community, followed by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 until 1990. Despite the hardships faced by all Chileans under Pinochet’s regime, Jews occupied prominent positions in government.

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