The Jewish population in Argentina has declined somewhat since its peak in the mid 20th century but the community has an intrinsic influence on the culture of Buenos Aires. Synagogues and Jewish communities can be found in a number of provincial capitals throughout the rest of the country.
Most traditional Jewish food and kosher restaurants in Buenos Aires are focused around the neighborhoods of Once, Abasto and Villa Crespo. Thankfully there are many options aside from the popular Kosher McDonalds in Abasto Shopping Mall, which is famous for being the only Kosher McDonalds in Latin America.
No visitor to Argentina can miss out on Argentina’s favorite snack food, savory empanadas. The Empanadaría Kosher at Tucumán 2790 offers reasonably-priced empanadas and pizzas and is well worth a stop while sightseeing. The kosher empanadas are so popular with porteños (as residents of Buenos Aires are called) that they now have three more locations, including one on the second floor of the Abasto mall and another in Once at Paso 719.
On the same block at Paso 745, Tov Lev features Kosher Shawarma, pastrami, apple latkes and more Italian-inspired Argentine specialties prepared under the supervision of Rabbi Daniel Oppenheimer.
One of the city’s most popular options for a Kosher ‘asado’ (barbecue meat) experience is the recently revamped Parilla Al Galope one block from the Empanadaría Kosher, at Tucumán 2633.
For a more interactive and personalized Argentine food experience in the Palermo neighborhood, sign up for an afternoon or evening with the Jewish-owned Argentine Food Experience to learn how to make empanadas, eat steak like an Argentine (with plenty of Malbec of course) and prepare and drink the traditional tea, yerba mate.
The same owner, Alex Pels recently opened a second business, Asado Experience at Fogón, focusing on intruding visitors to traditional Argentine asado, or grilled meats.
Ajim Deli, right across the street from Empanadaría Kosher, at Tucumán 2620, offers shawarma, felafal, shnitzel, hot pastrami sandwiches, hummus, lajmashin and typical Argentine cuisine such as milanesas, steak and even ‘ñinos envueltos‘. It is open all day Sunday until Thursday and opens for a typical Buenos Aires’ late dinner at 9 p.m. on Saturdays.
For kibbeh, and other traditional Israeli and Sephardic food in simple surroundings, try Yafo Kosher at Paso 747 in Once.
By far the hippest spot for kibbeh in Buenos Aires is the trendy fine dining restaurant, Mishiguene (Mishiguene means ‘crazy’ in Yiddish). Although not strictly Kosher, chef Tomás Kalika offers a modern twist on traditional Ashkenazi and Sephardic recipes including kugel, kreplach, borscht, gefilte fish and pastrami cooked the Argentine way — on a grill.
Kalika, whose ancestors are from Russia and Poland learned to cook at Israeli ‘MasterChef’ host, Eyal Shani’s restaurant Oceanus in Jerusalem. Mishiguene is located in Palermo at Lafinur 3368 and is unmistakably Jewish with yiddishkeit decor and live Klezmzer music on Friday nights. While getting recognition as the best Jewish food in South America, Mishiguene might be ‘crazily priced’ for visitors from Jewish food capitals such as New York or London.
For a less expensive meal in the Belgrano neighborhood, at O’Higgins 2358, there is El Paisano Kosher House, another cozy steakhouse which is run by the local Chabad.
To experience a traditional gathering place for Jewish intellectuals in Villa Crespo, head to Cafe San Bernardo, Av. Corrientes 5436. Founded in 1912 it is more commonly known as ‘El Sanber’ and is a traditional gathering place for Ashkanazi Jews to talk politics and play games such as dominoes.
The hottest spot for Pastami Reuben sandwich is probably the Jewish deli, La Crespo, at Thames 613 in the neighborhood of the same name. They also serve up otherwise elusive lox and cream cheese bagels, varenyky, latkes, knishes and strudel and cheesecake.
Argentine Kosher Wine
At the turn of the 21st century the demand for Argentine Kosher wine exploded along with the general Argentine wine market. Due to prohibitive costs to export it, larger wineries such as Finca La Celia have since cut their production of Kosher wines. These days most Kosher wine such as those made by San Juan’s Finca 613 and their Tariag line of Kosher varietals including Torrontes, Malbec, and sparkling wines and champagnes, are aimed toward the internal market.
Sports & Media Representation
Argentina is unique in the number of Jewish athletes who grew out of the city’s sport and social clubs. As outlined in the book, ‘Fútbol, Jews and the Making of Argentina,’ Villa Crespo’s soccer team Atlanta, founded over a hundred years ago is the traditional soccer team supported by most Porteño Jews, highlighting the unique identity of Argentine Jews. The team has a few Jewish players and management.
The Memoir, ‘With Love The Argentine Family: Memories of Tango and Kugel; Mate with Knishes‘ provides insight into Argentine Jewish cultural through the eyes of an Argentine-born girl who grows up in the U.S.
As for mass media, the very famous Argentine telenovela ‘Los Graduados’ (The Graduates) starred a stereotypical Jewish Argentine family, the Godzers who eat knishes and gelfite fish, smatter their conversations with Yiddish and whose father is, predictably, a fan of Atlanta soccer team.
Among well-known Jewish politicians in Argentine are former US Ambassador and ex Minister of Foreign Affairs, Héctor Marcos Timerman, who was descended from Lithuanian Jews. As young man he supported Argentina’s military dictatorship until his father was kidnapped in 1977 and he became a supporter of human rights and was exiled during Argentina’s Dirty War. As a journalist during his exile he had bylines for the Nation, and the New York Times but was arrested in 2017 for his alleged role in the AMIA bombing cover-up. He died while still facing charges.
Journalist and former Buenos Aires mayor, Jorge Telerman is the grandchild Jewish merchants who fled to Argentina to escape the pogroms of central Europe at the turn of the 20th century. He is the owner of the popular San Telmo club, La Trastienda.
Former Minister of the Economy, Axel Kicillof captured the world stage when he was charged with coming up against U.S. ‘vulture funds’ who wanted to collect on Argentine bonds they had purchased in Argentina’s 2005 debt restructuring. Under his leadership the country had a strong parallel currency market that meant that almost no one used banks. In 2016 Kicillof was indicted and charged in federal criminal court along with ex-President Cristina Kirchner for a scheme to sell dollars on the futures market at a low price so that buyers would get large winfalls on their investments.
→ Read about our private Jewish Buenos Aires Tour with a local guide
Buenos Aires Jewish Tours
This boutique walking tour led by a local starts at 10:30 a.m. in the Once neighborhood.
The three-hour walking tour is centered around the traditionally Jewish neighborhood of Once. As part of the tour, the group reads short texts by important Argentine Jewish writers such as Alberto Gerchunoff and César Tiempo while enjoying a beverage in a typical neighborhood cafe.
Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA)
Tel : 4959-8800
Also known as the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society AMIA is central to Jewish life in Buenos Aires. They founded the first Jewish cemetery in the city and offer educational and cultural activities for all ages. After the devastating terror attack here in 1994 in which 85 people were killed tours of ground floor exhibition should be arranged through local friends who are members or certified tour agencies.
Fundación Pardes (spiritually-focused Jewish Organization)
Currently broken link: pardes.org.ar
Plaza Embajada de Israel (Memorial Plaza) — A memorial for the victims of the 1992 terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy
Arroyo and Suipacha Streets
Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano Marshall T. Meyer
— Academic , cultural and religious center of the Conservative Religious Movement in Argentina with an important Jewish Sciences Library
Jose Hernandez 1750
Buenos Aires has a thriving theater scene, and once had a large Yiddish theater scene. Even today there are humourous productions around the Once and Abasto neighborhood with titles such as, ‘Los cuentos del Rebe,’ (The Stories of Rebe), ‘Tangos con Varenikes‘ (Tangos with Varenikis — which includes tangos sung in Yiddish and Hebrew) and, ‘Oy, oy, hoy.’
The IFT Theater (Boulogne Sur Mer 549) is a small independent theater troupe born out of the Yiddish theater tradition in 1932 under the name ‘Idramst,’ Yiddish for ‘theater.’ It’s a member of the ICUF Federación de Entidades Culturales Judías de Argentina (Federation of Jewish Cultural Entities of Argentina).
In 1952 the troupe was able to purchase their own building. At its peak, IFT had a chorus, a drama school, a children’s ballet and an art gallery. The theater also hosted big Jewish names in Argentine theater such as Yordana Fain, Cipe Lincovsky, Anita Lang, and Elita Aizenberg. Today Teatro IFT hosts live independent theater productions in Spanish an average of five days a week.
La Sociedad Hebraica Argentina (Argentine Hebrew Society) — A large 14-floor social and sport club. They also have a suburban center in Pilar, Province of Buenos Aires.
Club Náutico Hacoaj is another sports and social club in the northern suburb of Tigre, originally founded in 1935 as the Club Náutico Israelita.
Entre Ríos: Jewish Attractions
Jewish Museum of Entre Ríos
Entre Ríos 476
Tel: (345) 421-4088
Hours: Mon-Fri & Sundays, 8:30 to 12:30 pm.
Historic Communal Museum of the Jewish Colonization of Moisés Ville
25 de Mayo 188
Tel: (03409) 420-665
Synagogues in Argentina
Keep in mind that because of terrorist attacks of the 1990s, most synagogues will ask for identification before allowing anyone to enter, so don’t forget your I.D. Most synagogues across the country have a larger Shabbat service on Friday night rather than Saturday morning.
Gran Templo Paso — Considered one of South America’s most beautiful temples, this 2,000 capacity temple was built in 1929 by the Ashkanazi community.
Once, Buenos Aires
Sinagoga de la Congregacion Israelita de la Republica Argentina founded in 1897 is one of the city’s oldest synagogues. The Roman-Byzantine style synagogue has room for 1,000 worshipers. Next door is the Dr. Salvador Kibrick Jewish Museum.
Once, Buenos Aires
Templo Camargo — A Sephardic orthodox synagogue with Buenos Aires’ largest kehillah in the Villa Crespo neighbohood.
Yesod Hadat —Large temple established by Sephardic Community
La Valle 2249
Beit Jabad Concordia (Orthodox Synagogue)
Beit Jabad Rosario (Orthodox)
Mendoza 1557 1-A
Rosario, Santa Fe
Tel: (41) 260-208
Jabad Lubavitch Cordoba
Tel: (3514) 710-223
Socieda Israelita de Beneficencia
Beit Jabad Tucumán — Orthodox
Tel: (381) 4248-892