The New Jewish Argentina: Facets of Jewish Experiences in the Southern Cone, edited by Adriana Brodsky and Raanan Rein, Leiden and Boston: Leiden 2014, iv + 399 pp.
This volume offers a revision of older studies of Jewish Argentina that concentrated on political history and Jewish institutions and emphasized the uniqueness of the Jewish experience. As stated in the introduction, The New Jewish Argentina focuses on social and cultural history, emphasizes similarities between Jews and other ethnic groups, and deals with subjects that were ignored by previous scholars, such as popular culture, Jewish leisure, unaffiliated Jews, and gender and Sephardim. In other words: While former studies dealt with the Jewishness of the Argentine Jews, this book points out their argentinidad.
The opening essay of Jose C. Moya places Jewish Argentina in context, comparing it with other Jewish diasporas as well as with other ethnic groups that had conflicting encounters with previous waves of migration. In the case of Argentina, the absence of a pre-mass migration community facilitated the creation of "one of the least diverse Jewish diasporic communities in one of the most diverse settings" (19).
Most of the articles in this volume stress the Argentine identity of the Jews, even during the immigrant generation. Mollie Lewis Nouwen examines the role of Jewish crime in the process of inclusion into Argentine society, presenting the "Jewish neighborhood" of Once as a space of interaction between Jews and other ethnic groups. Alejandro Dujovne analyzes the role of Jewish booksellers, libraries and publishers in the process of integration into Argentine society. He finds a correlation between the economic and symbolic capital of books' circulation and the major concentrations of Jews in Once and Villa Crespo. Mir Yarfitz analyzes the activities of Ezras Noschim, created to protect Jewish women against white slavers, in the context of attitudes toward motherhood and family. Adopting the moral conceptions then in vogue in Argentina, the organization considered criminal tendencies as inheritable, requiring "Morality Certificates" for Jewish weddings in order to avoid contamination by Jewish prostitutes. Ariel Svarch analyzes the positive portrayal of the Jewish immigrant in a series of cartoons published in the liberal newspaper Critica (1929-32) as a discursive weapon against the xenophobic right to define an inclusive national identity. Critica inverted the...