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Ashkenazi Jews in Mexico

Ideologies in the Structuring of a Community

Adina Cimet

Publication Year: 1997

An account of the life of the Ashkenazi Jews in Mexico in this century highlights the intersection of cultural and political international problems, shedding light on the contemporary condition of minorities the world over. In a century full of social dreams and abhorrent calamities, the survival of a small cultural ethnic group is no small story. Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews arrived in Mexico in the early years of this century. The vast majority of these 40,000 Jews live in Mexico City and have done so for most of the eighty years of this communal experiment. Arriving with few resources, the Ashkenazi created a network of organizations to sustain their cultural survival in a country that had its own complex cultural context. This community chose its own survival path; while successful in confronting some issues, it faced problems of identity and social cohesion that mirror contemporary dilemmas everywhere. The author examines the particular exchanges that took place between minority and majority, and reflects on the challenges for multicultural living shaped by pluralism, democracy, and socio-political tolerance.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page

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pp. iii-

Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iv-v

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xi

The development of the community of Ashkenazi Jews in Mexico over the last eighty years sheds light on many social, political, and philosophical aspects of our contemporary life. Looked at internally and externally, this community is an experiment in social construction, an experiment in pluralist living arrangements, and a test of the political and philosophical...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-

The research for this work was based on my doctoral thesis. As an outgrowth of that I am indebted to the people that guided me at the time. I would especially like to thank Prof. Sigmund Diamond, mentor, teacher, and friend. I also wish to thank Professors Herbert Gans, Arthur Goren, and Viviana Zelizer, who provided me with pertinent suggestions for the...

PART 1

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CHAPTER 1: The Reestablishing of an Acquaintanceship

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pp. 3-26

The encounter between Mexicans and Jews involved many things, including a confrontation with long-standing myths and the clashes of a new reality. The views they had about each other and the context in which they renewed their acquaintance played an important role. Though most of the accounts of immigrant Jews to Mexico highlight the perplexity...

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CHAPTER 2: The Development of the Communal Structure

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pp. 27-69

To study this community we need to reconstruct the structural development of the community, yet we do not want to ask only the conventional questions (i.e. the demographic growth of the group, its economic changes, etc.). While these questions are basic, they are not the only ones. In addition, the available data allows only a general reconstruction of...

PART 2

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CHAPTER 3: Profiles of Thought: The People Behind the Ideologies

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pp. 73-126

A close examination of the actors involved in the structuring process must be seen within a context that imposed specific constraints and limitations. The ideologies of these actors were "imported" ideologies that were developed in another time and place. They were then modified and colored by the actors' experiences in the new context in which they found...

PART 3

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CHAPTER 4: Confrontations That Produced Structural Changes: Five Case Studies

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pp. 129-185

Ashkenazim in Mexico were undoubtedly fortunate in having been welcomed by Syrian Jews who helped them to settle and find their way in the new society. The help from the B'nai-B'rith1 and from HIAS (Hebrew Immigration Association) was also important. However, what marks the development of the Ashkenazi communal structure is precisely their break with these sources...

NOTES

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pp. 187-214

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 215-225

INDEX [Includes Back Cover]

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pp. 227-231


E-ISBN-13: 9780791499146
E-ISBN-10: 0791499146
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791431795
Print-ISBN-10: 0791431797

Page Count: 231
Publication Year: 1997

Series Title: SUNY series in Anthropology and Judaic Studies (discontinued)
Series Editor Byline: Walter P. Zenner