Germany funds opening of Bolivia’s first Jewish museum

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — With financial assistance from Germany, the Jewish community of Bolivia inaugurated the country’s first Jewish museum.

The inauguration took place earlier this month in Cochabamba, 250 miles southeast of the capital La Paz, according to a report Thursday on the Jewish Argentinian website Radio Jai.

Much of the funding came from the German government, according to Ricardo Udler, the president of the Jewish Community of Bolivia, or Circulo Israelita Boliviano.

“The museum commemorates the history of European Jews who found refuge during the Nazi dictatorship in Bolivia and founded there a number of kibbutzim, including a kibbutz in Charobamba,” the German embassy in La Paz said in a statement published on its website.

The ambassador, Peter Linder, said that “meeting community members who could still tell stories from my grandmother’s time made the dedication a living history lesson.”

The museum features a historical display with pictures from the 1940s, when Bolivia had several kibbutzim and a Jewish population of 10,000, and a display of photos of the present-day community of several hundred individuals.

Separately, on Feb. 1, the city of Punta del Este in Uruguay is scheduled to hold a five-day Jewish film festival with 30 movies from 10 countries.

Organized by University ORT Uruguay, the festival aims to “fight against ignorance and anti-Semitism through Jewish culture,” Fernando Goldsman, the founder and director of the festival, told JTA.

The program includes ““Giza, la niña de la maleta,” (“Giza, the Girl in the Suitcase”), a world premiere by the Spanish filmmaker David Serrano Blanquier. The film is based on the experiences of Giza Alterwajn, who was born in the Warsaw ghetto and who was rescued by a Polish family.