In 1910, as Argentina celebrated its first centennial, Alberto Gerchunoff published Los gauchos judíos (The Jewish Gauchos of the Pampas), undoubtedly the best known work about the Jewish agricultural settlements at the end of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth century in Argentina’s interior provinces.
This new gaucho epic, which has been highly romanticized, as noted by many specialists, and most recently, by Javier Sinay in his book Los crímenes de Moisesville, inspired me to create the figure of Don Rosenblún.
This new character I have created is also the result of my desire to bring together different interests which, for a while, I thought were not related, namely: graphic art, and cartoons in general, Yiddish culture, my own life-story as a Jew (as well as the story of the Jewish people), journalism, literature, and Argentine popular culture. In Don Rosenblúm’s world one finds a mixture of the traditional poncho worn by the gauchos with his tallit (prayer shawl), the mate (infusion drank in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil), and the immense extension of the Pampas; a willow tree that has been uprooted many times but is now taking Yiddish lessons so he can strengthen its roots.
Don Rosenblún was born very recently and his story, like my own, is a work in progress.
– Sebastián Scherman
–Zeide (Grandfather), what happened during the Shoah?
–Many terrible things: the Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews, through a carefully calculated plan to systematically annihilate a millenary culture.
–…They burned books written by Jews and dissidents
–They persecuted, condemned to exile, and murdered Jewish intellectuals
–Before the Holocaust, there were eleven million people who spoke Yiddish around the world. Today, there are less than 600,000 Yiddish-speakers left… (Even UNESCO has added Yiddish as an “endangered language”).
–The world ran out of words.
He has published his work in numerous magazines and newspapers in both Argentina and Uruguay, and has made illustrations for public as well as private sector campaigns. In addition, his work has been presented at several collective exhibitions in Spain and Argentina and has also exhibited individually at the Alliance Française of Buenos Aires (2009, “En Alianza con el humor”); In AMIA (Argentina’s Largest Jewish Community Center) (2010, “Desde el Once con Humor”); and in Raanana, Israel (2016, “Shalom, Chabón). Don Rosenblún is part of a new series about a Jewish gaucho in reference to the thousands of Jewish immigrants that went to Argentina to “make it in the Americas” in the agricultural colonies acquired by Baron Maurice Hirsch at the end of the nineteenth century and first decades of the twentieth century. This cartoon can be followed (in Spanish) at
www.facebook.com/donrosenblun. Sebastián Scherman may be contacted at: email@example.com
This cartoon and commentary was translated by University of San Diego Associate Professor of Spanish Alejandro Meter. Meter is the guest editor of TBI’s Freedom of Expression Blog for the week of 4/24/17-4/28/17. His first post can be read here.