Brandeis Initiative on the Jews of the Americas
Dedicated to broadening an appreciation for the cultural, communal and religious traditions of Latin American Jewry and their distinctive contributions to the global Jewish diaspora, the Brandeis Initiative on the Jews of the Americas focuses on Jews who live in Latin America and those who immigrated to the United States.
Despite its size and importance, Latin American Jewry has been relatively under-examined. Estimated to number over 750,000 individuals, the Latin American Jewish community is diverse and includes Ashkenazi, Mizrachi, and Sephardi Jews--nearly half of whom live in the United States.
Latin American Jews also constitute an important segment of modern Israeli society, and the exploration of the relationship between Jewish communities in the Americas and Israel is an important and necessary contribution to the study of Israel-Diaspora relations.
A broad set of projects will be undertaken as part of the Initiative, including:
- Studies of expressions of Jewish identity among Latin American Jewry
- Comparative analyses of Latin American Jewish communities in the United States and Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean
- Geographical, political, historical, and economic analyses of relationships between Jewish communities in Latin America, the United States, and Israel
- Studies of the relationship of Latin American Jewry with Israel and their implications for Israel-Diaspora relations
- Socio-demographic studies of the size and characteristics of Latin American Jews in the Americas
Designed as a hub for creativity and collaboration, the Brandeis Initiative on the Jews of the Americas includes academic research and cultural programs. Our approach incorporates perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and the arts and engages international academic and community institutions.
Meet the Director
Dalia Wassner, PhD, is the director of Jews of the Americas, an initiative of Brandeis University at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. Dr. Wassner is a historian whose research and teaching is dedicated to providing more inclusive and interdisciplinary approaches to the Jewish Diaspora and broadening the academic fields of Jewish Studies, Latin American Studies and Diaspora Studies.
Dr. Wassner is the author of Harbinger of Modernity: Marcos Aguinis and the Democratization of Argentina (Boston: Brill, 2014), which illuminates the intersecting roles of Jews and public intellectuals in bringing democracy to post-dictatorship Argentina. She is guest-editor of the launching issue of the journal Latin American Jewish Studies (Spring 2022), and her scholarship has been published in numerous academic journals, including Latin American Research Review, Iberian and Latin American Studies, Contemporary Jewry, and Journal of Modern Jewish Studies. Dr. Wassner serves on the Latin American Jewish Studies Association Board of Directors, the Jewish Women's Archive Encyclopedia Editorial Board in the field of Latin America, and the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry Board of Directors.