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Oral history interview with Rafael Bekenstein

Oral History | Accession Number: 2009.29.26 | RG Number: RG-50.590.0026

Rafael (Efroim) Bekenstein, born in 1907 in Berechin, Poland (now in Belarus), describes being eight years old when his parents died; living with his aunt; growing up in a poor family; beginning to work at the age of 10 or 12; immigrating to Argentina at the age of 20 after he was sent a ticket by his sister, who had lived in Argentina since 1905; going to Victoria in the province of Entre Rios; moving in 1930 to Uruguay; working as a tailor; the Jewish Cultural Center in Uruguay, which was an amalgam of two centers that existed earlier (the Zionist group Kadima and the non-Zionist group Renovacion); the activities of the Jewish Cultural Center; the big parties held at the end of the war and after the declaration of the State of Israel; not experiencing antisemitism in his personal life, in his professional life, nor as a member of the Tailors’ Union; the Jews in Uruguay, many of who came from Argentina’s Jewish colonies of San Antonio and Basavilbaso; the reasons for abandoning the colonies, including locusts, bad harvests, and education; the decline of observances; and his own limited religious practice.
Juana Primo de Bekenstein, born in Argentina, describes her Russian parents, who were both orphaned at a young age and were taken in by aunts and uncles; her father immigrating to Argentina while his family went to England; her father first settling in the colony of Dominguez, where his cousin Liberman lived, and later moving to Uruguay and working in the furniture industry; her parents meeting in Uruguay and getting married in 1912; her mother Rosha Wainsztub, who arrived in Argentina with her uncles, aunts, and cousins and settled in Basavilbaso; her parents’ life in Uruguay; the other Jewish families her parents knew, including the Barach, Mesman, Chibanier, and Shinder families; her mother beginning the Ladies Society in order to help the Jewish poor; not attending a Jewish school as a child; learning Yiddish from her parents; observing the Jewish holidays; the games they played with a tablet and hazelnuts; the Szwartzman family hosting the young people many times; and the decline of Jewish observances.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Rafael Bekenstein
Monica Salomon
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina-Communidad de Buenos Aires
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:40:37
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