The Invention of the Jewish Gaucho: Villa Clara and the Construction of Argentine Identity

By Judith Noemí Freidenberg | Go to book overview

Chapter three
COLONIA CLARA AND THE
EMERGENCE OF THE “JEWISH
GAUCHOS” (1892–1902)

I plowed the fields with my brother, led the harvester, and took care
of the cattle. The cowherd
[boyero], an old soldier of Urquiza, per-
fected my art of horseback riding and started me in the use of the
lasso and the
boleadoras.1Like all youngsters in the colonia, Í
had the look of a gaucho. I dressed in a wide
bombacha,2a wide-
winged
chambergo,3and boots with a jingling spur. The lasso with
a shining ring hung from my saddle, and the
boleadoras hung from
my waist next to the horse. (Gerchunoff 1973:25)

This is the phenomenon: the children of the Israelites … are almost
chauvinistic and even the oldest, those born in Odessa or Warsaw,
are profoundly patriotic, they are deeply and sincerely Argentine.
(Gerchunoff 1973:35)

Colonia Clara was very progressive because there was a lot of work
… There was work for everybody! … The Republic was made on
horseback … the gringos, the
criollos, there were no machines or
anything
, (criollo informant)

The Jewish immigrant settled in rural areas upon arrival in Argentina: 64 percent of the total Jewish population of Argentina lived in Entre Ríos in 1895 (Elkin 1978), and Jews continued to

-41-

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