The first recorded Jews in Guatemala were Conversos. Conversos were Jews or the decedents of Jews who converted under the pressure of the Spanish and Portuguese governments mostly in the 14th and 15th centuries. In 1848 A new arrival of Jewish immigrants came from Germany. There were some more Jews who arrived in Guatemala from Eastern Europe later on; however, Guatemala was not very accepting to Jewish refugees escaping Nazism. They passed laws to prevent these refuges from entering the country without mentioning Jews directly.
The laws were in place in 1939 yet there were still 800 Jews living then in Guatemala. In 1965 an Ashkenazi Jewish community center was founded. The Jewish community of Guatemala has accepted some Cuban Jewish refugees but overall it has been shrinking due to assimilation and intermarriage. Most Jews now live in Guatemala City. There are some Jews living in Quetzaltenango and in San Marcos.
I spent six weeks on one trip in Guatemala but unfortunately did not meet any of the Jewish community. Guatemala City had a dangerous feel to it and is considered one of the more dangerous cities in Central America. I contemplated spending a Shabbat there but it is not a very nice place in my opinion to spend the weekend when there are so many more beautiful places in the area.
Guatemala is a good place to study Spanish. I studied for a few weeks with a private tutor. You can get a private Spanish tutor for 20hr/week for as little as $50.
Traveling Rabbi blog posts to do with Guatemala
Comunida Judia Guatemala, has a kosher shop
This site has some good info and links for Jewish Guatemala
Ashkenazi Centro Hebro, 7a Avenida 13-51, Zona 9 Tel: (2)331 1975
Sephardi Maguen David 7a Avenida 3-80, Zona 2 Tel: (2)232 0932
Chabad of Guatemala 14 Calle 15-26, Zona 13 Tel: 502-2485-0770
Chabad of Guatemala
9 Calle 14-64, Zona 13 • Guatemala City, 01013 • Guatemala •
Guatemala – Kosher Food available
Guatemala – Kosher Bakery
Daily minyan -
בית חב"ד פדרו לה לגונה, גואטמלה. chabad house pedro la laguna , guatemala. facebook : chabad pedro web : www.chabadpedro.org tel: +502 58006395 cel: +502 59470870 Chabad house offers Kosher catering and runs a kosher restaurant.