Sun and Shuls Make Uruguay Beach Town Jewish Hot Spot

Punta Del Este Lures Latin Jewry in Southern Summer

Sun and Shuls: Punta del Este has long been a magnet for South America’s glitterati. Now it’s attracting Jews from all over the region as well.
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Sun and Shuls: Punta del Este has long been a magnet for South America’s glitterati. Now it’s attracting Jews from all over the region as well.

By JTA

Published February 04, 2013.
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In the 1960s, Jewish developers and architects began to build here. Weiss-Sztryk-Weiss, a Jewish construction firm, started in the 1970s. The Atijas family, also Jewish, split from Weiss and started its own firm. Both companies had a huge influence on the city’s development. In the 1980s and ’90s, middle-class Argentinians began vacationing here.

“The city is a profitable investment and many people from the Jewish community throughout the region who have great abilities to analyze different investment scenarios have opted for this city,” said Nestor Sztryk, the director of Weiss-Sztryk-Weiss, which is developing eight residential buildings in the city. “It is also a place that offers quality of life, quietness and freedom with which those in Argentina or Brazil who live with insecurity can enjoy here, without fear for their children and belongings.”

Punta del Este, which has a year-round population of just over 9,000, has four synagogues. Estimates of the Jewish influx during the summer range from 25,000 to 50,000 in a country with a population of 3.3 million, including approximately 17,000 Jews.

As the summer season began in early January, so did the cultural offerings targeting Jewish visitors. Despite the allure of a beautiful, sunny day, more than 650 chose to attend a discussion at the Conrad Hotel about challenges facing Israel. And a book launch for Sergio Bergman, the first rabbi to be elected to public office in Argentina, attracted 900 participants interested in his writings about kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performed on Jan. 18, and Israeli universities and philanthropies routinely organize events here. In February, the 10th annual Jewish Film Festival will open with support from Jewish groups from Argentina, Brazil and Chile, as well as the Uruguayan government.


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