*Behold Your God is our plan to reach every city outside of Israel where there are 25,000 or more Jewish people. (We also have an outreach in Israel.)
This month we have a Behold Your God campaign in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The people of Buenos Aires are known as porteños (people of the port), reflecting the importance of the port to this nation. The population of Buenos Aires consists primarily of Argentines of Spanish, mixed Spanish-aboriginal (mestizo) and Italian descent. They highly value their European heritage—more people have Italian and German names than Spanish, and the lifestyle and architecture are said to be more European than in any other city in South America. The city’s population is roughly 2,776,000 people, but the suburban area known as Greater Buenos Aires, has more than 12 million people.
The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, though there are also sizable Jewish and Muslim communities. The Jewish population of Buenos Aires numbers approximately 220,000. A number of Jewish institutions were erected in Once, including the AMIA (Mutual Association Israelite Argentina) community center that was bombed on July 18, 1994 in the bloodiest terror attack ever to take place on Argentine soil. For most of the 20th century, Once had a lively Yiddish theater scene. One such theater still stands on Boulogne Sur- Mer Street, where colorful murals celebrate its rich history.
Jewish contributions to the arts, politics, journalism and sports in Buenos Aires are notable. However, ever since the bombing of the AMIA, anti-Semitism has increased in Argentina. The country’s economic collapse in the late 1990s was blamed on the Jewish people. The failed economy has also led to increased petty crime in the larger cities, especially in the Greater Buenos Aires area. Visitors to Buenos Aires and particularly the popular tourist destinations must beware of pickpockets and purse snatchers on the streets and on buses and trains. So-called express kidnapping” has become more frequent in metropolitan Buenos Aires. Assailants have removed victims from the street or from other public places and later demanded a ransom. Once the ransom is paid, the victim is usually quickly released.
Despite these problems, Buenos Aires is a beautiful city filled with people who need to hear the gospel.