NEW YORK (Feb. 24)
About 3,000 European Jewish refugees who at the end of last year were authorized by the Colombian Government to enter the country are expected to arrive shortly, Arnold Borgenicht, Colombian Jewish philanthropist and leader of the Jewish community of Cali, who is now on a visit here, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today.
Following representations by the Jewish community, the government agreed to the entrance of the 3,000, but the difficulty of obtaining new identity dociments for DP’s who lost them during the war years and the shipping tie-up between Europe and South America have delayed the Jewish immigrants, Borgenicht declared. He stressed that this is not the first time that Colombia has extended a helping hand to the Jews. During the early years of Hitler’s regime, it accepted 4,000 German Jews, which nearly doubled the country’s Jewish population.
Of the 9,000 Jews in the country, Borgenicht said, 4,500 reside in the capital, Bogota, and the second largest community is in Cali, the most important city in the western part of the country, where 2,000 Jews live. The remainder of the Jews are congregated in Barrancia and Madellin.
He pointed out that the Jews are engaged in manufacturing, commerce and agriculture. In the four cities the Jewish communities own and maintain synagogues, libraries, recreational centers and other community services, Borgenicht stated. Two Jewish newspapers are published in the Spanish language: La Revista Sionista, a weekly in Bogota, and Libertad, a bi-weekly in Cali. For the past three years, he said, Jewish schools in the four cities have enjoyed the official recognition of the Ministry of Education.
“The Jewish community of Colombia, though small, fulfills its share in the relief and reconstruction activities in Europe and Palestine.” Last year Colombian Jews contributed more than $250,000 to Jewish relief overseas, Borgenicht emphasized. He also reported that the Jews and non-Jews of Colombia live together without any tension and that the government has always given the Jews full recognition of their citizenship and civil and property rights.