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Uruguay Travel Advice



Uruguay The first record of Jewish settlement in Uruguay is in the late 18th century. Today, Uruguay boasts a Jewish population of approximately 17,300 - the fourth largest Jewish community in South America. Uruguay has a long and established Jewish community, and its development parallels the development of the country. Uruguay did not have a significant Inquisition and there are some traces of Conversos who lived in the 16th century. Few documents relating to Jewish history during the Colonial period are extant. In 1726, the governor of Montevideo called upon the first settlers to be "persons of worth, of good habits, repute and family, so that they be not inferior nor of Moorish or Jewish race." The first record of Jewish settlement is in the 1770s. With the end of the Inquisition in 1813, the political and social system of Uruguay evolved to a greater level of openness and tolerance. This openness provided the basis for continued Jewish residence beginning in the nineteenth-century. Documentation of today's Jewish community dates back only to 1880. In 1905, there were various records of the Jews' arrival. The first recorded minyan was not until 1912. In 1909, 150 Jews lived in Montevideo, the city with the largest Jewish population. Despite the history of settlement, the community did not open its first synagogue until 1917. Montevideo Kosher options in Montevideo are limited, but they do exist.

There are 2 kosher restaurants in Montevideo, as well as a kosher list of products of what you can pick up at a local supermarket. We ate at both restaurants as well as navigated the supermarkets – keeping in mind that everything is in Spanish – and we fared OK.

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Montevideo Kosher options in Montevideo are limited, but they do exist.

There are 2 kosher restaurants in Montevideo, as well as a kosher list of products of what you can pick up at a local supermarket. We ate at both restaurants as well as navigated the supermarkets – keeping in mind that everything is in Spanish – and we fared OK.

1)DellyK (or Deli Ka) is a small café style restaurant that we ate at twice. They have quirky hours, opening around 11am and closing by 4pm. They may extend this by the season, so it pays to call ahead. The first time we tried to eat there was around 6pm and they were closed. Luckily, there’s a supermarket next door so we made due.

2) Chabad’s restaurant, Kos Kafe, is more of a counter / take-out style place inside Montevideo’s Chabad house, however there is an abundance of seating in a quaint, nicely decorated interior location.

I do recommend being in touch with the Chabad, who also operates the city’s mikvah, for most Jewish services in the city beyond the advice given here. Unbeknownst to us, there’s a long Jewish history in the city that we did not have the time to explore, but is very detailed in this article from Forward.com.
Punta Del Este the Chabad rabbi of Uruguay’s son runs the relatively new kosher restaurant in town Jalaví Pizzeria (Jalavi = Chalavi = Dairy), which like much of the town, is only open for a few months a year. The restaurant is located at the Punta Shopping mall on the exterior (not inside the mall). Jalavi is Cholov Yisrael,

Read Full Article For Punta Del Este →
Punta Del Este the Chabad rabbi of Uruguay’s son runs the relatively new kosher restaurant in town Jalaví Pizzeria (Jalavi = Chalavi = Dairy), which like much of the town, is only open for a few months a year. The restaurant is located at the Punta Shopping mall on the exterior (not inside the mall). Jalavi is Cholov Yisrael, and the make their own cheese. The food was tasty and filling, probably the best food we had in Uruguay (perhaps by default because the other options weren’t too amazing). We ate there multiple times whilst in PDE, and would recommend it to anyone visiting for lunch or dinner. They’re also open pretty late, especially on Motzei Shabbat when Shabbat ends really late. It’s a late night culture, so this makes sense.

Also in PDE are 2 kosher markets. We visited a small one inside the Sinagoga Beit Yaacov, which is a beautiful Sephardic shul. It’s only open for very limited hours, so be careful when you go. They close early. The market is run by an old Sephardic couple and they make homemade hummus, lachmajin, borekas, and other Sephardic dishes. Other items like packaged pitas, grape juice, wines, and challah were also available.

The other kosher market is much further from the center of town on the peninsula (also in the local shul), and we did not end up stopping there. Here is the list of kosher options from the Chabad website (in Spanish).

The city has 3 shuls in 3 separate areas, so no matter which part of town you’re in, you’ll have access to one.

PDE also has just enough kosher options to make your relaxing stay enjoyable without having to make your own food for every meal.

The Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov (originally from Brooklyn), and his family was not only nice and welcoming, they provided us with tons of advice and hosted us for Friday night dinner.

The main pain point we had was the lack of an eruv. With a toddler in tow, the Friday night dinner at the rabbi’s house was great, but it was a long walk to any of the hotels for a 3 year old that late at night who had fallen asleep earlier at the rabbi’s house.
The Jewish community of Uruguay is made up of 10,000 families of Polish-Russian, Sephardi, German and Hungarian descent. Surprisingly, approximately 75% of Uruguay's Jews are Ashkenazi, while only 11% are of Sephardic descent, however, that was not always the case. In 1917-1918, 75% of the Jewish population were Sephardim. The Jewish community is predominately secular while observing basic elements of the Jewish tradition. Organizationally, the religious and secular functions have been separate since 1942. Jewish cultural life is the prominent expression of Jewish identity in Uruguay, and there is an organized community of secular humanists in Uruguay. In the mid-1990s, there were 14 Orthodox and 1 Masorti (Conservative) synagogue and two Orthodox and two Masorti (Conservative) rabbis. The growing Masorti community is partially due to the growing population of the Seminario Rabinico Latinamerico rabbinical school of the Conservative movement in Argentina (1 of 5 Conservative rabbinical schools in the world). Chabad-Lubavitch also runs a center and several schools in Montevideo and a center in Punta del Este. As of 2003, Uruguay has 20 synagogues, but only six hold weekly Shabbat services, and only the Yavne Community Center synagogue in Montevideo functions every day. Uruguay has Zionist and non-Zionist, Ashkenazi and Sephardi schools. Zionist youth groups such as the national-religious Bnai Akiva, the socialist HaShomer HaTzair, HaNoar HaTzioni, and the Revisionist Betar give informal youth education. Uruguay has eight strong Zionist youth organizations and Uruguay is the only South American country authorized to administer Israel's university entrance exam. Local youth organizations include the Maccabia sports group, and the youth section of the Nueva Congregacion Israelita (NCI). The NCI is the umbrella organization of the Uruguayan Jewish community.

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Sorry to our knowledge there is no Kosher Hotels in URUGUAY !!

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