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There were no Jews in El Salvador until the first half of the 19th century, when Sephardic families arrived from Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia helping to establish the country's first synagogue.[1] Jews from Alsace moved to the capital, San Salvador, in the later 1800's[2] when a number of German Jews, mainly from the province of Posen, arrived in El Salvador, Guatemala and Peru.[3]

By 1936 members of the Jewish community in El Salvador attempted to assist their relatives and friends escape Nazi persecution in Europe. However, at the beginning of the war, Maximiliano Martinez Hernandez, the president of El Salvador, admired Hitler and Mussolini, and slowly became known as fascist sympathizer throughout the world. On July 30, 1939, President Martinez refused the entry of fifty Jewish refugees bound for El Salvador. Other accounts detail stories of El Salvador closing its borders to Jews in 1939.[4]

The Comunidad Israelita de El Salvador was established in 1944 and a Jewish center was opened the following year. In 1948, El Salvador recognized the State of Israel (Israel has maintained embassy in San Salvador for many years and El Salvador was one of only two countries - Costa Rica being the other - to maintain an embassy in Jerusalem. It was later moved to Tel Aviv).[5]

In 1950 the Jews of San Salvador built their own synagogue. Before this time they met for services in a private home.[6] By 1976 there were some 370 Jews in El Salvador. Unfortunately, during the civil war many left the country.[7] Peace treaties were signed in 1991 leading to the return of some Jewish families. As of 2006, the Jewish population in El Salvador includes approximately 60 families.[8]

Jewish Education in San Salvador, El Salvador

Currently, there is one synagogue that houses a wing of classrooms and a playground area. There is a youth movement of about 30 children age 8-18, who meet weekly. The kindergarten for young children also meets weekly. A full-time Rabbi from Argentina is currently in-residence and he and his wife teach the community's children, prepare Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and instruct adults in Hebrew and Judaism. Sabbath services are held on Friday evenings, Shabbat morning, and on holy days. For Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim and Yom Haatzmaut the women's committee organizes meals for the community to come together and celebrate.[9]

Yaldeinu maintains close contact with the leadership of San Salvador's Jewish community and has pledged to include its children in the organization's camping program.


  1. ^ http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/communities/comm_reg_latam.html
  2. ^ http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/communities/comm_reg_latam.html
  3. ^ Beller, Jacob, Jews In Latin America, Jonathan David Publishers, 1969 New York Pg. 42-43
  4. ^ www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/ElSalvador.html
  5. ^ www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/ElSalvador.html
  6. ^ Beller, Jacob, Jews In Latin America, Jonathan David Publishers, 1969 New York
  7. ^ http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/communities/comm_reg_latam.html
  8. ^ www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/ElSalvador.html
  9. ^ www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/ElSalvador.html



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