From LA Weekly April 29 2005 by Ella Taylor
Isaac Artenstein's charming memoir of the community of Mexican Jews into which he was born drives home the point that ethnic groups who have been continually battled around the world tend to develop a nimble ability to blend into their host society while gestating the cultural frameworks they require to maintain a separate identity. Over the course of the 20th century, this lively border town attracted Yiddish speaking Ashkenazi Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, Ladino speaking Sephardis fleeing persecution in Turkey and Greece, and Arabic Jews from Syria and Lebanon. With astonishing rapidity, these diverse cultures fused into a flourishing, sometimes quarrelsome community of Spanish speakers who drew on the colorful economy of Tijuana's tourist district for sustenance, and helped also define it. Artenstein's sources for TIJUANA JEWS are home movies and interviews with friends and family, who seem a happy, tight-knit bunch whose lavish weddings and bar mitzvahs were invariably attended by the entire community. When, perhaps inevitably, they moved north to San Diego for the sake of their kids' education, they upped the stakes with their secular-bourgeois infrastructure intact.
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