Goodbye to All That
For generations, the Jews of Caracas had idyllic weather, prosperity, and vibrant communal organizations. Things changed under Hugo Chávez.
The Jewish community in Caracas has long been lively, prosperous, tight-knit, and devoted to the country that accepted so many of them as refugees during and after World War II. At its height, it numbered as many as 40,000 people. But in the years since President Hugo Chávez came into office, their sense of well-being has eroded significantly. Like other wealthy Venezuelans, they have seen their economic opportunities diminished. Unlike other wealthy Venezuelans, they’ve been singled out in a rhetoric of class warfare that is sometimes implicitly, other times explicitly, anti-Semitic. In a few cases, that rhetoric has led to violence, as in 2009, when vandals broke into the Mariperez Synagogue, defacing it with anti-Semitic graffiti and destroying property. With their future uncertain, younger Jews are leaving Venezuela in droves, in many cases with their parents and grandparents following in their footsteps. Tablet’s Matthew Fishbane traveled to Caracas to report on how the community is faring, and he speaks with Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry about whom he met, what he saw, and what would be lost if just a handful of Caracas’ Jews remain. [Running time: 18:00]
Half of Venezuela’s Jewish community fled under Hugo Chávez, who died this week. Will the other half follow?