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Report Latin American Jewry is at Threshold of a Renaissance

An Israeli educator who attended a five-day Congress on Jewish Education in Latin America held in Rio de Janeiro last week, said here that he found Latin American Jewry at the threshold of a Jewish renaissance based on Jewish education and the centrality of Israel to Jewish life.

Dr. Eli Tavin, head of the World Zionist Organization’s Department of Education in Jerusalem, said the Congress demonstrated “the determined efforts of Latin American Jewry to achieve a robust and creative Jewish life based upon Jewish knowledge and understanding, a positive Jewish identity and strong personal and communal ties to and identification with the State of Israel.”

He said, in his report released by the WZO-American Section, that the gathering had attracted a record 224 educators from 11 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. He said “the Jewish elan, vigor and determination” they displayed “expressed a dedicated commitment to Jewish education as the instrument to create a Jewish renaissance in Latin America.”

BASIS FOR JEWISH SURVIVAL

Tavin said the event “confirmed the fact that Jewish education and the centrality of Israel bound together in an unbreakable and mutually helpful diaspora-Israeli partnership are the basis for Jewish survival and a creative and positive life, both in the diaspora and in our beloved homeland.”

The five days of plenary sessions and workshops were devoted to pedagogical methods and means to ensure a positive Jewish identity among 45,000 pupils in 130 schools and kindergartens and to forge intimate personal ties to and identification with Israel.

The Congress, organized by the WZO, petitioned the WZO’s Department of Culture and Education to set up two central pedagogical centers in South America to expand the activities of the Jerusalem Center to Latin American Jewry.

It also called on the WZO to assist the Mexican Jewish community to establish a Jewish teachers college similar to the one in Buenos Aires and to establish a third in-service program for the Western nations of South America that would parallel the program it conducts in Argentina for southern Latin America and in Mexico for the countries in the northern part of the continent.

Tavin said the participants in the Congress recommended the organization of a second Congress on Latin American Jewish Education to be held in 1983.

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