This study aims to explore tzedakah, charitable work intended to create a just society, as a multivocal symbol in the post-diaspora Jewish community in Buenos Aires during the 20th century. Symbols display multivocality if they have more than a single purpose and achieve a variety of goals within a society. I apply a theoretical framework consisting of ideas presented by Victor Turner and Clifford Geertz to analyze information gathered from primary sources and historical studies. I review materials pertaining to Jewish philanthropy, Argentine Jewish culture, and the work of La Sociedad de Damas Israelitas de Beneficencia, a charitable organization founded by Argentine Jewish women. My analysis of La Sociedad’s work reveal that the organization performed tzedakah in hopes of achieving the following goals: ensuring better lives for abandoned Jewish girls; raising a generation of Argentine Jews that were involved in their religious culture but also accepted by their non-Jewish Argentine neighbors; and improving the dominate society’s perceptions of the Argentine Jewish community. This study explains the motivations of a charitable organization created by members of an ethnic minority.


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology


Jewish Studies | Latin American History | Women's History

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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