Five years ago Uruguay was only a country through which Jewish immigrants passed; today Uruguay is an important Jewish immigration center. The story of this transformation is told in a report of the Uruguay Jewish Immigrant Aid Society at Montevideo covering the years 1927 to 1930. The Society is functioning under the direction and through the financial support of the Hebrew Sheltering & Immigrant Aid Society of America (Hias), in conjunction with the Ica and Emigdirect.
Jews began to come to Uruguay, according to the report, during the years 1917-1918. They were the refugees from pogroms. Upon their arrival they received a friendly and very cordial reception. The absence of restrictive laws, perfect freedom and the spirit of liberalism, coupled with the fact that difficulties were placed in the way of immigrants by other countries, were a great factor in making Uruguay desirable to Jewish immigrants. The largest number of Jewish immigrants came from Russia. Poland comes next, followed by Lithuania and Roumania.
The first immigrants were mostly single men, but as soon as it became known in their native countries that they had successfully established themselves, married men followed. Then followed a stream of relatives, parents, brothers, sisters. Girls came out to marry. The settlers established themselves on a sound basis, and at the same time created institutions for their social and cultural purposes.
The Jewish Immigrant Aid Society of Montevideo helps the immigrants in many ways. It conducts trade and language courses in the latter of which the government is particularly interested. The Uruguayan Minister of Education has placed at the disposal of the Society a government building for school purposes and also supplies the necessary text-books and school equipment.