An account of the life of the Ashkenazi Jews in Mexico in this century highlights the intersection of cultural and political international problems, shedding light on the contemporary condition of minorities the world over.
In a century full of social dreams and abhorrent calamities, the survival of a small cultural ethnic group is no small story. Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews arrived in Mexico in the early years of this century. The vast majority of these 40,000 Jews live in Mexico City and have done so for most of the eighty years of this communal experiment. Arriving with few resources, the Ashkenazi created a network of organizations to sustain their cultural survival in a country that had its own complex cultural context. This community chose its own survival path; while successful in confronting some issues, it faced problems of identity and social cohesion that mirror contemporary dilemmas everywhere. The author examines the particular exchanges that took place between minority and majority, and reflects on the challenges for multicultural living shaped by pluralism, democracy, and socio-political tolerance.
Adina Cimet is affiliated with the YIVO Institute at Columbia University.