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Around the Jewish World Jewish Magazine in Argentina Serves Youth, but is Struggling

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One recent rainy morning, Matias Mondschein visited kosher shops, trying to sell ad space for the fourth issue of his magazine. The deadline was rapidly approaching. “I feel quite lonely but I cannot allow myself to give up,” Mondschein, 28, told JTA. He is the fourth son of a traditional Jewish couple, born in the Argentine province of Santiago del Estero.

His bimonthly magazine, aimed at young Jews, is called Generacion J. “J” refers to the words Jewish and young, both of which begin with J in Spanish. The magazine is struggling to print its fourth edition before Passover.

Editor and director of the publication, Mondschein insists he has the support of the butcher shops, but still is far short of the $2,000 he needs to print the issue.

The biggest Jewish institutions do not support the magazine, he said.

“I want it to be independent,” and to allow “free, enriching communication among local young Jews, to spread Jewish values in the Argentine context, with debate and content,” he said, not just provide publicity for Jewish institutions that give money.

Mondschein does most of the writing and editing on the 22-page publication, and he covers costs for graphics work and printing. Past issues have included stories about an Israeli hospital, spiritual growth of young Jewish women and a community center project, with space for letters from young Jews in remote rural areas.

Sold for 50 cents in the shops that Mondschein solicits for ads, the magazine has a circulation of about 4,000. It’s also available through www.delacole.com, a Jewish community site for Argentina.

Daniel Berliner, spokesman for the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, or AMIA, said Generacion J is the only publication for young local Jews, and deserves the community’s support.

But the project doesn’t get enough support. The local office of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Argentine Zionist Organization and Chabad in northern Buenos Aires made small donations to previous editions.

Interested in the community but lacking contacts, Mondschein’s Jewish activism began in 1999, when a friend invited him to participate in a workshop at the annual meeting of the National Net of Young Jews.

“The meeting just changed my life completely,” Mondschein said.

When he returned, he opened his first e-mail account and started to make contact with other Jews, maintaining links with those he met at the workshop and joining Jewish chatrooms.

“In my prior daily routine in Santiago, where the Jewish population is quite small, my main contacts were with other soccer players, none of them Jewish,” said Mondschein, who played in Argentina’s First Division.

As he got more involved Jewishly, he obtained support to travel to Israel in 2000 and 2003. On the second trip Mondschein attended a seminar on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and hasbarah, both organized by Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the World Zionist Organization.

A member of the Herut political party’s Argentine office and an employee at Etz Hachaim Chabad Lubavitch synagogue, Mondschein is not giving up. His wife, Cinthia, gave him her savings, and Mondschein resigned himself to earning no money from the magazine: He just wants to continue the project.

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