History of the Jews in Chile
|18,500 (census)-25,000 (estimate)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Chilean Spanish, Hebrew, Yiddish|
|Related ethnic groups|
Jewish presence in Chile is as old as the history of that country. Over time, Chile has received several contingents of Jewish immigrants. Currently, the Jewish community in Chile comes mainly from the migrations occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly of Ashkenazi background.
Chile is home to the third-largest Jewish community in South America.
Spanish colonization and settlement
The first Jews arrived in Chile with the Spanish conquistadors. These were Jewish converts to Catholicism because, at the time of the Inquisition, had to hide their Jewish origin living. Most of this immigration occurred in the early years of the conquest, fleeing religious persecution in Spain, since in the Americas is not yet the court of the Inquisition installed. Diego García de Cáceres, faithful friend and executor of the founder of Santiago, Pedro de Valdivia, was one of them.
In colonial times, the most prominent Jewish character in Chile was the surgeon Francisco Maldonado da Silva, one of the first directors of the San Juan de Dios Hospital. Maldonado da Silva was an Argentine Jew born in San Miguel de Tucumán into a Sephardic family from Portugal. He was accused to the Tribunal of the Inquisition by her sisters, devout Christians, from attempting to convert them to Judaism. Maldonado declared openly Jew, earning him the conviction to be burned alive in 1639. During this period, entire crypto-people families, those who "converted" to Catholicism but privately remained Jews, arrived.
Jewish immigration in the 19th century
From 1840, decades after the abolition of the Inquisition in Chile, began the Jewish immigration to the country. The first Jews who arrived in Valparaíso were from Europe, especially from Germany and France. One of them, Manuel de Lima y Sola, was a man who became one of the founding members of the Fire Department of Valparaíso in 1851 and one of the founders of the Chilean freemasonry to create the first Masonic lodge, the "Unión Fraternal" two years later.