Listen to our podcast with author Javier Sinay
Award-winning journalist Javier Sinay investigates a series of murders from the nineteenth century, unearthing the complex history and legacy of Moisés Ville, the “Jerusalem of South America,” and his personal connection to a defining period of Jewish history in Argentina.
When Argentine journalist Javier Sinay discovers an article from 1947 by his great-grandfather detailing twenty-two murders that had occurred in Moisés Ville at the end of the nineteenth century, he launches into his own investigation that soon turns into something deeper: an exploration of the history of Moisés Ville, one of the first Jewish agricultural communities in Argentina, and Sinay’s own connection to this historically thriving Jewish epicenter.
Seeking refuge from the pogroms of Czarist Russia, a group of Jewish immigrants founded Moisés Ville in the late 1880s. Like their town’s prophetic namesake, these immigrants fled one form of persecution only to encounter a different set of hardships: exploitative land prices, starvation, illness, language barriers, and a series of murders perpetrated by roving gauchos who preyed upon their vulnerability. Sinay, though a descendant of these immigrants, is unfamiliar with this turbulent history, and his research into the spate of violence plunges him into his family’s past and their link to Moisés Ville. He combs through libraries and archives in search of documents about the murders and hires a book detective to track down issues of Der Viderkol, the first Yiddish newspaper in Argentina started by his great-grandfather. He even enrolls in Yiddish classes so he can read the newspaper and other contemporaneous records for himself. Through interviews with his family members, current residents of Moisés Ville, historians, and archivists, Sinay compiles moving portraits of the victims of these heinous murders and reveals the fascinating and complex history of the town once known as the “Jerusalem of South America.”
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