Page 117 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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ELKIN /RECENT SCHOLARSHIP ON LATIN AMERICAN JEWS
109
1889-1914. T h e sou th e r ly s tream was relatively small, com p r is ­
ing only some 9% o f all Jew ish imm ig ran ts . A lthough Latin
Am erica rece ived a la rg e r p ro p o r t io n o f S eph a rd im th an d id
the U n ited States, th e m a jo rity o f imm ig ran ts to the Sou th , as
to the N o r th , were A shkenazim .
T h e d if fe ren ces be tw een Jew ish comm un ities N o r th and
Sou th a re ro o ted in th e ir adop tive societies, an d they a re ex ­
plicable no t in te rm s o f the k ind o f peop le the imm ig ran ts were
b u t in te rm s o f th e k inds o f societies they e n te re d . Latin and
Anglo societies were a t very d i f fe re n t stages o f d eve lopm en t,
w h e th e r con s id e red in political, econom ic, o r ethical term s. In
the N o r th , Jew s cam e in to a society th a t had spun o f f from
E u rop e in th e Age o f E n ligh tenm en t. In the Sou th , Jew s came
in to societies th a t h ad been fo u n d ed , an d still were g ro u n d e d
in the p re -E n l ig h tenm en t past. Jew s were em anc ipa ted by the
fact o f arriva l in the U n ited States; Jew s o f the Latin Am erican
repub lics have no t been fully em an c ip a ted yet. In A ng lophone
America, Jew s took th e ir places in indus tria lized econom ies;
while th e na tiona l econom ies o f Span ish /Po r tugue se America
were largely p re - indu s tr ia l . In ethical o r relig ious term s , N o r th
America, fo u n d ed by relig ious d issiden ts, fo s te red a p luralistic
cu ltu re ; Sou th America, which h ad been fo u n d ed by civil serv ­
an ts an d t ru e believers, re jec ted cu ltu ra l p lu ra lism in favo r o f
an u n re fo rm e d Catholicism . T h is be lie f system was to become
ensconced a t th e very co re o f what it m eans to be A rgen tine ,
Mexican, o r Bolivian. From these d iffe ren ces flow the sub s tan ­
tially d i f fe re n t tra jec to ries o f Jew ish history on the two con ti­
nents.
LACK OF RESEARCH
It is passing s trang e th a t th e Latin Am erican d ia spo ra has
a ttrac ted so few resea rchers : all the m o re so when con tra s ted
with the d e p th an d scope o f re sea rch in to U n ited States Jew ish
life or, a t the o th e r en d o f the spec trum , the rich scho larsh ip
on the Jew s o f Spain . How can we accoun t fo r this neglect?
T h e small size o f Latin Am erican Jew ish popu la tions , in te n ­
sified by th e ir d ispe rs ion th ro u g h o u t 22 d i f fe re n t coun tries ,
may be one reason — a l th o u g h small num b e rs have no t inh ib ­
ited resea rch on th e Jew s o f Am s te rdam in th e six teen th cen ­
tury , o r the Jew s o f Deto it in the tw en tie th . Still, small num be rs
raise m a jo r substan tive obstacles in the shape o f poorly endow ed