Shalom Life | March 09, 2014

Shalom, Ecuador: A Jewish Culture Guide

There are currently an estimated 1000 Jews living in the South American country of Ecuador

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: March 4th, 2014 in Culture » Society » News

Shalom, Ecuador: 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, Ecuador


Like most of Latin America, the first Jews in Ecuador were Conversos (converts to Catholicism) fleeing persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Throughout the subsequent centuries, there was little Jewish immigration into the country. It wasn’t until the 20th century, that Ecuador a substantial increase in the Jewish population.

The Immigration Act of 1924 in the U.S. set a quota for the number of immigrants permitted into the country. Ergo, many immigrants were forced to find alternative locales to lay roots – Ecuador being one of those places.

During the 1930’s as Nazism swept across Europe, many Jews sought refuge in Ecuador. Betwixt 1933 and 1943, an estimated 2,700 had settled in the country. By 1950, approximately 4,000 Jews called Ecuador home.

Today, there are an estimated 1,000 Jews residing in Ecuador, mainly in the capital, Quito. However, there are also communities in Guayaquil (the largest and most populated city in the country) and Ambato. The majority of Jews throughout Ecuador are of German decent.

The Asociacion de Beneficencia Israelita is an umbrella organization that controls both religious and cultural affairs in the country. Chabad-Lubavitch is located in Guayaquil since 2004. Kosher food is supplied, in addition to everything from a Chabad House, to a synagogue, to a library.

Comunidad Judia Del Ecuador

Other organizations represented in Ecuador include B'nai B'rith, Maccabi, Wizo, and the Zionist Federation. Established in 1973, the Colegio Experimental Alberto Einstein is the Jewish school located in Quito, providing classes from kindergarten to grade 12, open to both Jews and non-Jews alike.

The community publishes Informaciones, a Spanish-German newspaper. The main synagogue in Ecuador is the Conservative Comunidad Judia Del Ecuador. Although the massive building only has roughly 600 members, they (like all Ecuadorian Jews) are proud of their religious and cultural heritage. In addition to the synagogue, the Quito community also has a community center and an old-age home.

“This has been one community since the ’30s, and this community expends a great deal of effort to stay as one community,” explained congregation president Rolf Stern, to The Jerusalem Post in 2011.

The Jews of Ecuador may be small in numbers, but they are a strong, fervently proud community. Ecuador is definitely worth the visit.

Links:

http://www.jabadguayaquil.org/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/COMUNIDAD-JUDIA-DEL-ECUADOR/181211735279412

http://www.einstein.k12.ec/home-e.html

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