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Colombian Jewish Community to Carry out Census, Leader Reports

As part of a well-organized community program, the central representative body of the Jewish community in Barranquilla, Colombia, has taken the initiative in carrying out a regular census of its Jewish population. Details of this activity and of Barranquilla Jewry’s tightly organized community structure were given to a meeting of the World Jewish Congress here by Carlos Kalusin, the community’s president.

Mr. Kalusin said that a census initiated last year had shown that the community numbered nearly 1,000, the bulk being members of the Ashkenazic community. The Barranquilla Jewish leader reported that no member of the Ashkenazic community had been involved in intermarriage in the past 25 years.

The community maintains the Centro Israelita Filantropico, the representative council of which Mr. Kalusin is president. Under the Centro are four major institutions; the Beth El Synagogue, the Colegio Hebreo “Union,” the Social Club and the Chevra Kadisha, Each of these four constituent groups has its own president and board who, with four community delegates at large, form the Board of Trustees of the Centro Israelita.

Mr. Kalusin said that the Colegio Hebreo provided a full secular and Jewish education for almost 300 children from nursery school through high school. Spanish, English and Hebrew are the languages of instruction and at present there are about 70 non-Jewish children enrolled in the school. “In fact,” Mr. Kalusin reported, “the prize for the best Hebrew scholar went to a non-Jewish girl, a couple of years ago.”

Barranquilla is one of the four centers of Jewish settlement in Colombia whose total Jewish population is about 10,000. Four years ago, the community completed a complex of new buildings which include the synagogue, the Social Club and the school. In addition to the four major institutions, the small Barranquilla community also has Zionist groups, WIZO, a Ladies Auxiliary and welfare groups, although the caseload for such agencies is small.

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