My two Argentine friends in Boston generated a collection of invitations in Buenos Aires that could keep me occupied here in this massive city for two weeks. One invitation was to attend services at a Reform-ish temple on Friday night. The service itself was highly unusual from an American Jewish perspective. Almost the entire time was taken up with lively singing by experts within the community and the congregation as a whole. Everyone seemed to know each other. Security was very tight. I almost didn’t make it into the temple because my escort was unknown to the guard. Fortunately she had her national ID card with a last name of “Cohen” to present. Why the paranoia?
At first glance you’d think that Argentina’s Jews would be happy and complacent. There has never been any violence directed at the Jewish community here from their mostly Italian- and Spanish-descended fellow citizens. They escaped Europe’s war against her Jewish citizens. You’d think that being on the other side of the globe from the Middle East would preserve Argentina’s Jews from the Muslim war against the Jews. The 1993 bombing of the Jewish community center here in Buenos Aires, however, left a deep scar. 85 people were killed and 230 wounded in a car bombing that was never completely resolved. Supposedly the money came from Iran and support from the local Iranian embassy but the actual killers were never identified.
It’s a tough situation when you’re already at the End of the Earth. There is literally nowhere to run.