Community in Bolivia (Plurinational State of) - World Jewish Congress
Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Bolivia's small but active Jewish community includes around 500 members, the majority of whom reside in La Paz. There are other minor communities in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The Bolivian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress is in La Paz.

WJC Affiliate
Círculo Israelita De La Paz

(591-2) 278-5083/6512

President: Ricardo Udler

The Jewish presence in Bolivia dates back to the period of Spanish conquest and colonization that started in the early 16th century when it became one of the primary destinations for Spanish Jews who had formally converted to Christianity and became known as Marranos.

With the mining boom of the 16th century, several Marranos settled in Potosí, where they soon achieved economic success through mining and commerce. The Marranos were persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition, as well as by local authorities, in Potosi and La Paz, who accused them of converting the locals to Judaism. As a result, most Jewish families moved to Santa Cruz, which was at the time a remote and isolated settlement where the Inquisition was less active.

In 1905, a small number of Russian Jews settled in Bolivia, followed by a group of Argentinian Jews. In 1917, it was estimated that there were only between 20 and 25 practicing Jews living in the country, and in 1933, at the outset of Nazi rule in Germany, there were 30 Jewish families in Bolivia.

The European Jewish refugees that stayed in Bolivia settled in La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Santa Cruz, Sucre (Chuquisaca), Tarija, and Potosí. They were augmented by another postwar wave of Polish immigrants. By the late 1940s, around 5,000 Jews were living in Bolivia. The vast majority of them have since emigrated.

The Years of the Holocaust

While there was only a handful of practicing Jews in Bolivia in the 1930s, the rise of Nazism in Germany led to significant growth in the Bolivian Jewish community, which was bolstered by an influx of 12,000 German Jewish immigrants. Moritz (Mauricio) Hochschild, one of the principal Bolivian mining industrialists, is credited with enabling some 9,000 German Jews to find refuge in Bolivia. However, most of these newcomers did not stay in Bolivia, with many moving on to Argentina, Chile, the United States, and Uruguay. Bolivia primarily served as a transit route rather than a final destination.


Bolivia has one of the smallest Jewish communities in Latin America, and it continues to decline due to the high rate of emigration of Bolivian Jews. In the 1990s, the community was believed to have about 700 members, while Hebrew University demographer Sergio Della Pergola estimated the Jewish population of Bolivia, as of 1999, at 500, with the majority living in La Paz.

Community Life

Each community in La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz has a cemetery, headquarters, and synagogue.

Religious and Cultural Life

La Paz is an Orthodox community, while Cochabamba is Conservative, and Santa Cruz is Reformist.

Kosher Food
Jewish Education

There is no Jewish school in Bolivia, although communities in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz run “Sunday schools” for local children.

Jewish Media
Information for Visitors

In 2014, a Jewish museum, located one hour away from La Paz, was opened in Bolivia with the help of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Relations with Israel

In January 2009, the Morales government broke ties with Israel, declaring it a "terrorist and genocidal state” and canceled its visa exemption agreement with Jerusalem.

Honorary Consulate of Israel in La Paz, Bolivia
Chief of Mission: Roberto Nelkenbaum, Honorary Consul
Edificio Multicine, Mezzanine
Av. Arce 2631
La Paz, Bolivia
Telephone: (+591) 2 211 6761 / 2 212 4417
Fax: (+591) 2 211 6761

Honorary Consulate of Israel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Chief of Mission: Francisco Hubsh Neumann, Honorary Consul
Avenida Banzer 171
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Telephone: (+591) 3 342-4777 / 3 357-9725
Fax: (+591) 7-739-7050

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