A conversation with Rabbi Max and Rabbanit Efrat Godet, the Chief Rabbi and Rebbetzin of Montevideo
Tell us five things that characterize the Jewish Community of Montevideo
Uruguay itself is extremely secular, a fact that has greatly influenced the development of the community, which is characterized as very Zionist and traditional, not so religious.
Thanks to a large number of families that make aliyah every year, the community has shrunk a lot. Today about twelve thousand Jews live throughout Uruguay. There are more Uruguayan Jews in Israel than in Uruguay.
Despite our differences, the community is quite united. Different levels of observance and tradition and the different political perspectives are not factors that generate conflict or separation.
Share a community program or activity that you consider beneficial for other communities
During the year, we carry out several inter-community activities, which strengthen the sense of belonging to the community as a whole. On Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) we do a single memorial program in which young people from all youth movements and all institutions participate. On Yom Ha’atzmaut we all celebrate together with a single mega event. For the last two years, we have also had a great inter-community Purim party. On those days we set aside our differences. There is no Orthodox, secular or conservative. We are simply Jews.
Tell us about the Jewish community of Montevideo
The community has all the services that Uruguayan Jews may need, in addition to a number of various active institutions. In Montevideo, there are seven active synagogues, six orthodox and one conservative. There are two Jewish schools, one more religious, the other more traditional, and a majority of the Uruguayan Jewish children and youth study there. Both schools have Kosher food.
Virtually all the tnuot (youth movements) have branches in Uruguay, as well as the large international Jewish institutions, such as KKL, Keren Hayesod, Wizo, Bnei Brith and many others.
Ours is a fairly well-organized community. A Central Committee represents and unites all the different community institutions, and a Zionist Youth Federation centralizes and interacts with all the Tnuot. Finally, the Chief Rabbinate is responsible for basic religious services and structure.