In Chile, the first Jewish settlers were Conversos, with Rodrigo de Organos being the first European to set foot there in 1535.At that time, there was an Inquisition that reduced the community’s development.
In 1810, Chile received independence, opening the door to the initial, although small, Jewish immigration. There were about 500 Jews in the country in 1914 and the number grew with the immigration of refugee Jews escaping Nazism towards the end of the 1930s. The Comite Representativowas developed to counter anti-Semitism that had increased.
There is a large Zionist group and a Jewish association present in Chile. Santiago has a number of synagogues and kosher shops; although many of the people are not religious there are those who keep kosher. There are a number of Jewish publications and a couple of schools. AishHaTorah and Chabad are also present in Santiago, doing outreach to get the largely non-observant population more connected to their Jewish roots.
The first person I met in Santiago was Jewish. I was walking through the streets carrying a load of climbing gear, which I needed for my trip to Aconcagua. A religious Jew in the streets helped me find a guest house. He came back later to show me around to where I could find some kosher food.
My time in Chile was mainly spent on Easter Island. It is a fascinating place. There are no Jews there, actually not much of anybody there. I did have a very profound spiritual awakening on Easter Island which I write about here (http://travelingrabbi.com/2007/06/06/east-it/).
Dr Herzl, Casilla 501
Comunidad Israelita Playa Ligade 3263, Playa Brava
Santiago is the home of many Chilean Jews and has a couple of prominent features that connect it to the Jewish community living there. The Circulo Israelita Synagogue has an interesting stained glass design in its interior, and the ‘Bomba Israel’ is a fire service manned by volunteers who include a few Rabbis. 1’10 of their fire engines carry the Chilean and Israeli flags.
Kosher Deli: Avenida Las Condes 8400
Telephone: (2) 251 3145; 848 6921, Fax: (2) 251 3149
Embassy of Israel
San Sebastian 2812, Casilla 1224
Telephone: (2) 246 1570
Mi Refugio: 14345 Camino Farellones Street
Telephone: (2) 475 0948, Fax: (2) 325 4180
Supervision: Rabbi Shoshan Ghoori
Delivery 24 hours a day
Communidad Israelita de Santiago
Sociedad Culturallsraelita B’nei Jisroel
Mar Jonico No 8860
Telephone: (2) 663 3300, Fax: (2) 663 3309
Pedro Bannen 0166
Telephone: (2) 274 2536
Avenida Matte 624
Jabad (Chabad) Lubavitch
Los Catus 1575, La Dehesa
Telephone: (2) 228 2240
Avenida R. Lyon 812
General Cruz 355, P.O. Box: 38 47 90907
Telephone: (45) 210582