Israel In Your Community

Supporting Jewish Life in South America

As a special delegation from Israel’s Knesset visits South America, we would like to highlight how The Jewish Agency is strengthening Jewish life in south America.

Last week, a special delegation from Israel’s Knesset is visiting South America. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the ways that The Jewish Agency strengthens Jewish life in south America. 

Some 325,00 Jews live in South America. The most important Jewish communities are in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Argentina is the largest Jewish community in the region, boasting a community of some 200,000 Jews. Another 105,000 live in Brazil, 17,000 in Uruguay and close to 1000 in Paraguay. 

The Jewish Agency for Israel supports Jewish life in South America in a variety of ways:


BAMA supports and improves education in Jewish communities throughout South America by training Jewish educators, developing curricula, providing professional support to teachers and school administrators, informal educators, and overseeing the participation of South American students in the International Bible Quiz hosted in Israel. 

Founded by The Jewish Agency in 2002 together with the community and other donors, BAMA is now a significant Jewish community institution in South America, serving 54 schools in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile, and trains more than 1000 educators annually. BAMA’s curricula reach more than 5,000 students each year. After 13 years of growth and accomplishments under the auspices of this Jewish Agency, BAMA is moving to the direct, independent direction of the local Jewish community, with ongoing support by The Jewish Agency.


Jewish Youth Movements are one of South America’s main providers of informal Zionist education. Jewish Agency Shlichim (emissaries) are an indispensable thread in the fabric of Argentina’s youth movements. The Jewish Agency not only recruits and trains these shlichim, we also waive two-thirds of the cost of keeping them posted in Argentina. Our young, enthusiastic emissaries are embedded within Hashomer Hatzair, Hanoar Hatzioni, Hachalutz Lamerchav, and Habonim Dror among others. 

Additionally, each year dozens of South American gap-year students in Israel spend 3 months at our Machon L’Madrichim in Jerusalem, where they receive extensive, intensive training for leadership in their respective Youth Movements upon their return to their home countries.


Masa brings Young Jews age 18-30 to Israel for 5 to 12 month programs in education, internships, and volunteering, including special programs intended for Spanish and Portuguese speakers. Masa participants choose from 200 different options for their experience in Israel. Programs include university preparation, professional training, internship and volunteering experience, Hebrew study, and more. 

Taglit-Birthright Israel Each year, groups of young Jews between the ages of 18 to 26 travel to Israel for the first time on a special 10 day trip that connects them with their roots and introduces them to the land, people and state of Israel. 


Close to 1000 Jews have immigrated to Israel (Aliyah) annually from various countries in South America, including 400 from Brazil, and 300 from Argentina.  Close to 70.000 Argentinians and 12.000 Uruguayans are living in Israel today. The Jewish Agency leads them every step of the way to make their move to Israel successful. 


The Jewish Agency is also involved in a wide variety of activities that secure the Jewish future in South America:

• Cha’il Israel Education provides professional development for Jewish studies teachers, financial support to Jewish schools, and educational trips to Israel for students.

• The Global School Twinning Network has paired numerous Jewish schools in South America with “twin” schools in Israel. The children share projects and learn each other’s cultures.

• Onward Israel is a 7-8 week program for Jewish young adults looking to build their resumes and their futures through internships in Israel. 

• Student Programs: The Jewish Agency collaborates closely with three program frameworks for Jewish university students in Argentina: Bet Hillel, Bet Scopus, and Ma Kashur.

• Security: The Jewish Agency helps schools, synagogues, and community centers in South America install physical protection measures against anti-Semitic attacks. 

16 Aug 2016 / 12 Av 5776 0
  •   Print