Ecuador

According to the estimates of Hebrew University demographer Sergio DellaPergola’s “World Jewish Population, 2016,” Ecuador is home to between 600 and 1,000 Jews. Largely homogenous, the majority of Ecuadorian Jews are of German ancestry, though in recent years Jews from other Latin American countries have bolstered the community. The Jewish community in Ecuador is represented by the Asociación Israelita de Quito – the Ecuadorian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate

Comunidad Judía del Ecuador

Roberto Andrade OE3-580 y Jaime Roldós

Telephone: (593-2) 248-3800
Email: cje@cje.ec

President: Abraham Vigoda



History

The history of Jews in Ecuador dates back to the colonial period, with the first Sephardic Jews probably arriving in what is now Southern Ecuador escaping the inquisition in the Viceroyalty of Lima between the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This presence of Sephardic Jews remained hidden for years in Ecuador and Judaism was only practiced secretly at home.

In the centuries that followed, Jewish immigration was virtually non-existent in Ecuador. Some Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants did arrive in Ecuador in the late 1920s, but it was not until the rise of the Nazis that substantial numbers of permanent Jewish settlers arrived in the country. Among them were professionals, intellectuals and artists, some of whom were professors and writers. The majority settled in Quito.

Many of the Jewish immigrants who arrived before and during World War II were admitted entry into Ecuador on the understanding that they would work in agricultural endeavors, but by the end of the war, many had branched out to other professions. Ecuadorian Jews brought technology, science and arts to Ecuador and were generally quite successful economically. Although a law was passed in the late 30´s that required foreigners to show that they were engaged in the stipulated occupation approved in their entry visas, no Jewish immigrants were actually ever expelled from Ecuador for not complying with this law.

After the Second World War many Ecuadorian Jews emigrated to the United States, Europe and Israel causing a decline of the larger collective of Jews in Ecuador. There was a wave of immigration from Argentina and Chile in the 1970s, but emigration still continued over the years. Today, the Ecuadorian Jewish community is quite small, but relatively homogenous and well-organized as a community.

The years of the Holocaust

As countries around the world began to adopt strict immigration policies in the 1930s, especially with regard to Jewish refugees, Ecuador still admitted a certain amount of immigrants. This included taking in German Jews aboard the ship “Koenigstein”, after the ship had been refused entry by several South American countries.

Overall, around 3,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Ecuador between 1933 and 1943.

Demography

Hebrew University demographer Sergio DellaPergola estimated that the Ecuadorian Jewish population numbered between 600 and 1,000 people as of 2011. The majority of Ecuadorian Jews live in Quito, the capital, followed by the city of Guayaquil. There were also some small Jewish communities in Riobamba, Ambato and Cuenca. 

Community Life

Jewish life in Ecuador is organized around the Comunidad Judía del Ecuador, which is the central body for Jewish religious and cultural affairs in Quito. There are also several organizations such as B’nai Brith, a Jewish Women´s Society which does important social work inside and outside of the community, HIAS, Hanoar Hatzioni which runs an active Youth movement, and representatives of KKL and Keren Hayesod.

In the year 2000 in Quito and in 2012 in Guayaquil, new headquarters of the Jewish communities were inaugurated. They have different spaces for recreation and activities for its members, with green areas, a synagogue, areas for children and youth activities and a Mikveh for men and women, in addition to large social areas, gardens and swimming pool, for the development of events and community activities.

Religious and Cultural life

Jewish religious life in Ecuador is somewhat diverse, considering the small size of the community. The communities in Quito and Guayaquil are basically Ashkenazi, with some Sephardic members which are active in the community. The Jewish community of Quito was Conservative for many years and has now come back to a more Orthodox practice, as has also been the case in Guayaquil. Chabad Lubavitch is also present in the country.

Jewish Education

In May 1973, a group of members of the Israelite Association of Quito, now Jewish Community of Ecuador, decided to found a school with an education based on the constant pursuit of academic excellence, to open its doors to children and youth without distinction of nationality, race or religious creed and that, within the framework of a secular educational concept, will develop studies of Hebrew and History of Israel destined to a better understanding of the millennial Jewish culture.

The Alberto Einstein Experimental Educational Unit is a secular, Spanish-English bilingual educational institution with Hebrew and French teaching and is recognized as one of the best schools in Ecuador for the excellent academic credentials and experience of its professionals.

The members of the Board of Directors are all members of the Jewish Community.

Youth

Despite the small size of the community, there are some Jewish youth groups in Ecuador, mostly under the auspices of the community. The Tnua Noar Hatzioni operates on the premises of the Jewish Community of Quito.

Jewish Media

The Jewish community publishes a bilingual Spanish-German bulletin, Informaciones.

Israel

Israel and Ecuador maintain full diplomatic ties. Bilateral relations have been developed in all areas: political, commercial, cooperation, cultural and defense.

Embassy of Israel
Av. La Coruña E25-58 y San Ignacio
Edificio Altana Plaza
Quito
Ecuador

Telephone: +593-2 397-1500
Fax: 33971 555

Updated

August 2018

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