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Shalom, Peru: A Jewish Culture Guide

Although Peru only has a Jewish population of approx. 3,000 at present, they are very proud of their heritage and culture.

By: Sarah Bauder
Published: December 3rd, 2013 in Culture » Society » News

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, Peru


The first Jews to settle in Peru, as with all of Latin America, were Conversos fleeing persecution from the Spanish Inquisition. During the period of Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire that commenced in 1532, many Conversos were drawn to the economic prospects the New World offered that were denied to them on the Iberian Peninsula. However, the long arm of the Inquisition was ubiquitous, eventually even in the colonies, which included present-day Peru. Many converts practiced Judaism in secret, which the Inquisition was cognizant of, and were therefore under constant threat of being discovered. By the late 16th and early 17th century, the local Inquisition routinely began persecuting, and even executing Conversos suspected of practicing Judaism in secret. Those who survived this period are believed to have assimilated into the local populations.

The modern Jewish community in Peru can be traced back to the mid-19th century, when there was an influx of Ashkenazi Jews from Central and Western Europe. The majority settled in the capital, Lima, working primarily as merchants or at firms. By the 1880’s, a third wave of Jewish immigrants from North Africa came to Peru, this time drawn to the economic possibilities of a flourishing rubber industry. Many settled in and around the Amazon Basin. The immigration continued into the 20th century, with many Syrian and Turkish Jews fleeing their war-torn homelands, to settle throughout Peru.

By the 1930’s, there was another influx of Ashkenazi Jews who immigrated to the country. By World War II, most Peruvian Jews had settled in Lima. With the emergence of the Juan Velasco Alvarado regime in the late ‘60’s, many Peruvian Jewish business owners emigrated, deterred by Alvarado’s implementation of socialism. Likewise, further emigration ensued during the 1980’s and early 1990’s due to both political and economic instability in Peru. In the last two decades, the country has once again stabilized, which curbed said emigration.

Related articles: Shalom, Peru, South America, Jewish, Judaism, Kosher, Israel, Travel, Tourism, Machupichu, Trip, Vacation, Lima
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