This is a Spanish version of Corinne Krause’s 1970 (University of Pittsburgh) Ph. D. dissertation. Well researched and engagingly written, its faults are those of unrevised dissertations. It repeats the same data under different rubrics, restates historical commonplaces, and relies excessively on its sources. It is, nevertheless, essential reading for Jewish history. Krause has thoroughly exploited her sources; has combed naturalizations for Jewish names, and calculated from the outcome Mexico’s Jewish population in 1906 (p. 105); and has found a most knowledgeable informant in Smyrna-born Rubén Mazal. Her subject, she believes, tests social openness and illuminates ideological trends. Jews constituted a symbol in the tug of war between Liberals and Conservatives, between positivists and their opponents. But (to trust Alicia Backal) as victims of prejudice, they have followed Mexico’s Chinese.
The Alsatians pioneered Jewish group presence in Mexico. They played prominent roles, but identified with Paris rather than with Zion. Krause has not documented the presumed Jewishness of the Jenks brothers and of Limantour’s parents (pp. 16-17, 53), nor that of publicist-educator-statistician Isidoro Epstein, a German who never said he was Jewish, nor of the Preparatoria's Campechano humanist, Francisco Rivas Puigcerver, who did say he was but was not. In 1905, Rivas presided over the ephemeral Sociedad Emanuel, which included Jews of every origin except the Alsatians. They were by then outnumbered by German-American Jews, who were in turn swamped by Ladino or Arab-speaking “Turcos.” These supported the organizing efforts of El Paso’s Rabbi Martin Zielonka in 1908 and 1912.
At this point Krause’s story meshes with Harriet Lesser’s catalogue-like New York University dissertation of 1972 and with the reminiscences of Leon Sourasky (1965) and Isaac Dabbah (1982). None is definitive, and Krause’s balanced but all-too-brief account breaks off before 1930. By then there were some 9, 000 Yiddish speakers from Russia and Poland in addition to the Turcos’ 12, 000. Most clustered around the clubs, schools, and synagogues of the Federal District, and had already moved up from being installment peddlers to shopkeepers and small manufacturers. Krause’s concluding chapter reviews Jewish colonization schemes for Mexico, a hypothetical tale. Eleven unidentified photographs illustrate the book.