Community in Peru - World Jewish Congress

Peruvian Jewry dates back to the Spanish colonial period when Iberian Jews, seeking refuge from the Inquisition, made their way to the new world. Today Peru is home to approximately 1,900 Jews, most of whom live in Lima, the capital. The Asociación Judía del Perú (Jewish Association of Peru) is the Peruvian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate
Asociación Judía del Perú

(511) 422-6066

with international organizations: Jack Falkon

President: Jimmy Atun

The presence of Jews in Peru dates back to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. The new world proved inhospitable to these Iberian Jews, however, many of whom were forced to convert by the Peruvian Inquisition, which was established in 1570. As a result of this persecution, there is little reliable data on the country’s Jewish population until the Inquisition’s end in the early 19th century, after which Peru enjoyed an influx of German and Russian Jews. In 1870, the "Hebrew Charitable Society,” the country’s first Jewish organization, was founded in Lima, and by the turn of the century, the preexisting community was bolstered by a further wave of Jewish immigration from Turkey. As time went by, Jewish immigration continued, with many of the newcomers moving to cities such as Arequipa, Trujillo, Cusco, Abancay, Huanuco, Piura, and Chiclayo in search of business opportunities.

During the 1920s and 1930s, several communal organizations were established to represent the growing community, including the "Sephardic Charitable Society,” the "Israelite Union of Peru,” the "Zionist Organization of Peru," and the "Israelite Society of Mutual Relief of the Jews.”

In the 1940s, all of Peru’s organized Jewish communities came under the roof of the "Asociación Juda del Perú," which serves as the representative body of all Peruvian Jewry and oversaw the establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, old age homes, schools, and other institutions. By the 1950s, most of the country’s Jews had migrated to Lima, and over the course of the next several decades, many of them moved to the United States, Israel, and Argentina.

The Years of the Holocaust

In 1938, the Peruvian government instructed its European embassies not to issue visas to Jewish refugees. Ignoring orders, Jose Maria Barreto, a diplomat serving in Geneva, Switzerland, began issuing Peruvian passports to Jews living under German occupation. Although his actions were discovered by his superiors and the passports voided, Barreto was still posthumously named as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem. Around 650 Jews fled to Peru during and after the Holocaust. The father of the current President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany.


The Jewish community has contracted significantly over the past century. Today, the community has about 2,500 members.

Community Life

The central communal organization of Peruvian Jewry is the Asociación Judía del Perú, which represents the Jewish community and coordinates the activities of its three synagogues. There is also an active Chabad house. The organization also maintains a B'nai B'rith country house, a Hebraica club, a Zionist youth movement, and many social welfare and charitable institutions. Most of the community’s children attend the Jewish León Pinelo School.

Religious and Cultural Life

Peruvian Jews belong to three denominational communities: German, Sephardic, and Romanian Ashkenazi. The German community (founded in 1870) follows a traditional Conservative rite, while the other two are Orthodox.

Jewish Education

In March 1945, a "Hebrew College Committee" was established, presided over by Israel Brodsky, which inaugurated the "León Pinelo" school the following year. In 1954, the school moved to its current location at 610 Maimónides Street, and since then, the school has become a critical component in the effort to maintain Jewish continuity in Peru.


The Jewish community of Peru maintains a firm commitment to Zionism and works with the World Zionist Organization to promote activities that connect its youth with the state of Israel.

Information for Visitors

The Museum of the Jewish Community of Peru was inaugurated in 2014 with a mission to present, preserve, and explore the history of the Jews in Peru. There is also a Holocaust and Humanities Educational Center, which provides teachers with the conceptual and pedagogical tools to facilitate the process of learning and teaching about the Holocaust within a framework of tolerance and inclusion.

Relations with Israel

Peru and Israel have maintained diplomatic relations since 1957. The two countries signed a free trade agreement in 1998. Israel provided aid to Peru in the wake of three separate earthquakes over the past two decades.

Embassy of Israel:

Centro Empresarial Platinum Plaza II, Piso 13,
Calle Cnel. Andrés Reyes 437,
San Isidro Lima 27, Perú
Telephone: 51 1 4180500
Fax: 51 1 4180555

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