Monday, July 4, 2011

Last of the Jewish cowboys

A few years ago, my Jewish grandma discovered that we have Jewish relatives in Argentina--several distant cousins who headed from Europe to Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century.  That means we may be related to Jewish cowboys.
Photo (c) Washington Post - all rights to them.

A recent article in the Washington post described this fading tradition:

On Argentina’s endless plains, only a few Jewish cowboys still ride. Synagogues once filled with pious congregants now stand forlorn on the edge of soybean fields.
Yet the collective memory of Jewish leaders here — of the stories their grandparents told of arriving in this remote land to build a vibrant Jewish enclave — remains fresh. And the ones who feel the links to the past deep in their bones, as Jaime Jruz, 65, passionately puts it, say they owe a debt to their ancestors to keep the old traditions alive.
“This is a story we have to treasure, that we have to keep alive for our grandchildren,” Jruz, one of the last of the Jewish gauchos, or cowboys, said on the same farm his grandfather first settled. “I cannot abandon this knowing the sacrifices they made.”
Today, the story of their arrival in Argentina’s outback is all but a footnote in the history of the Jewish diaspora. But in the 1890s, as whole towns of Eastern European and Russian Jews began packing, the offers of a new life in the New World seemed like providence.

Read the article here, and make sure to check out the fantastic photo gallery.

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