A Jewish Heritage Tour of South America

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Posted on 02/21/2018

What’s better than an Argentina vacation? Adding Uruguay to go with it.

Talk of the Town’s ‘A Jewish Heritage Tour of South America’, which departs June 4-14, 2018, hits all the classic stops, like Montevideo, Colonia, Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Moiseville. But what really sets this itinerary apart from other South America itineraries is its focus on the destinations’ Jewish roots, adding an educational and spiritual element to one spectacular dual-country adventure.

“So often we hear from customers who say that their favourite part about travel is learning something new about themselves and about the world. With this tour, we wanted to showcase these two countries in a way that most visitors have never seen, and hopefully by the end of it, they’ll return home with a newfound appreciation of the legacy left behind by the Jewish people,” said Henry Wiseberg, owner of Talk of the Town.

Departing Toronto with Air Canada, you’ll arrive in Montevideo for visits to Plaza Independencia, the meticulously renovated Teatro Solís, the picturesque Plaza Zabala (named after the city’s founder), and Uruguay’s main Jewish institution, ‘La Kehila’. You’ll also stop at the Holocaust Memorial, situated on the shores of the Rio de la Plata, and meet the students of Instituto Yavne, one of the city’s two Jewish schools.

In Buenos Aires, local scholar Salito Gutt will take you on a tour that highlights the city’s Jewish past, which dates back more than six centuries. ‘Secret’ Jews, known as ‘conversos’, first settled in Argentina after being expelled from Spain in 1492. Since then, they built synagogues like the Gran Templo Paso and Templo Libertad, both of which you will visit. You’ll also pay your respects to the 87 people killed in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Headquarters, which has since been rebuilt as the AMIA building memorial.

But it’s not all about discovering history while in Argentina, there’s plenty of fun to be had to! Enjoy an optional tango show with dinner included at La Ventana, and browse through antiques in the bustling San Telmo neighbourhood.

From there the tour winds down in Santa Fe via short flight, located approximately 330 miles from Buenos Aires. Here, you’ll meet with students from the Haim Nahman Byalik Jewish School and visit the local synagogue before travelling on to Moisesville, considered the cradle of Jewish life in Argentina. Founded in 1889 by Russian Jews, Moisesville is where ‘Gauchos Judios’, or Jewish Cowboys, first settled, and eventually became the home of Cementerio Israelita and the Brener Synagogue, both of which are declared national landmarks. You’ll also explore the Kadima (Jewish Culture Center), founded in 1989 and home of various artifacts from the early days of Moisesville.

“The best classroom in life is the world at large, and there’s so much fascinating history to learn while on this tour,” added Wiseberg. “If you’re looking to combine history, culture, food and entertainment, ‘A Jewish History Tour of South America’ is the one to book!”
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