Jews in Bolivia Enjoy Equal Rights, Fear No Assimilation Leader Reports

Although there are only 4, 000 Jews in Bolivia, they do not fear assimilation because there is a strong Jewish cultural life in the country and almost no intermarriage, Rabbi G. Friedlander, chief rabbi of Boliva, who is now on a visit to the United States, declared here today.

Rabbi Friedlander said that before World War II there were only 30 Jewish families in Bolivia, Most of the 4, 000 Jews now residing there were admitted as refugees from Nazi Europe, about two-thirds of them are Jews from Poland and one-third came from Germany.

About 3, 000 of the Jews live in La Paz, the rabbi reported. They are chiefly engaged in trade and in industry. The economic situation leaves no room for complaints. Nor can the Jews of Bolivia complain about the rights which they enjoy. There is no anti-Semitism in Bolivia.

Jewish cultural life in Bolivia, Rabbi Friedlander said, is developing normally. There is a Jewish theatre in La Paz, a Jewish center “Circulo Israelita eight synagogues and a Jewish all-day school which is attended by 400 children. The school enjoys government support and its graduates are accepted into the La Paz College.

Rabbi Friedlander, who is also the director of the Jewish school, revealed that about 30 percent of the pupils in the school are children from non-Jewish families. Some of them come from the homes of high government officials and leading Bolivian personalities. These children study Hebrew, Jewish history and other Jewish subjects and master them as well as do the Jewish children. The school has a staff of 36 teachers, of whom six are Jews. The Jewish teachers are assigned to teaching Jewish subjects.

“All in all we can say that 80 percent of all the Jewish children in Bolivia receive a systematic Jewish education,” Rabbi Friedlander stated. “The remainder are also not estranged from Jewish education, but receive it through private teachers. We are certain that our children will grow up to be good Bolivians and good Jews at the same time.”

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