Orthodox Party Wins Control Of AMIA Jewish Center In Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina – An Orthodox party has won an outright majority in elections for the leadership of the AMIA Jewish community center here, representing a power shift in local Jewish politics.

The results of Sunday’s election released Monday showed the Religious United Front with 77 percent of the 6,507 votes. It marked the first time in the 123-year history of AMIA that a religious party obtained more than 50 percent of the vote, meaning it can form a leadership coalition without the support of other parties.

AMIA serves as an umbrella organization for Jewish social service, cultural and education agencies.

The Religious United Front disagrees with other leadership slates on core issues such as conversion, interfaith marriage and the types of Jewish education that AMIA must support. AMIA’s leadership determines policies for the Jewish cemetery it runs and directs subsidies to needy Jewish students.

Finishing in second with 13 percent of the vote was a coalition representing Avoda and Likud, two Zionist slates. The Conservative movement’s Masorti was third with 9 percent.

An assembly of representatives of all the parties will determine the next AMIA president. The Orthodox will have 70 representatives in the assembly, the Avoda-Likud coalition 12 and Masorti 8.

In April 2011, tensions between the emerging Orthodox party and the non-Orthodox factions that ran AMIA for more than a century drew a record turnout for elections, with 10,757 members voting. The Religious United Front fell short of a majority and a non-Orthodox coalition retained leadership.

AMIA has always chosen its leaders by democratic vote, even when Argentina was not a democracy and was ruled by military dictatorships. The center was the target of a terrorist attack in July 1994 that killed 85 people as well as the bomber.

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