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Segal, Ariel 1965-

SEGAL, Ariel 1965-

(Ariel Segal Freilich)

PERSONAL:

Born 1965, in Venezuela. Education: University of Miami, Ph.D., 1998. Religion: Jewish.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—c/o Jewish Publication Society, 2100 Arch Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and scholar. Has been associated with the Buber Center of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel, and the Ben Gurion Institute, Sde Boker, the Negev, Israel; has also taught at the university level in Lima, Peru. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), correspondent in Israel.

WRITINGS:

Jews of the Amazon: Self-Exile in Earthly Paradise, Jewish Publication Society (Philadelphia, PA), 1999.

UNDER NAME ARIEL SEGAL FREILICH

David de los tiempos, Centro de Estudios Sefardíes de Caracas (Caracas, Venezuela), 1989.

Llegar cerca, Monte Avila Editores Latinoamericana (Caracas, Venezuela), 1996.

SIDELIGHTS:

Scholar Ariel Segal's first book in English, Jews of the Amazon: Self-Exile in Earthly Paradise, tells the story of an unusual Jewish community in the isolated Amazonian town of Iquitos, Peru. This community is composed of descendants of Moroccan Jews who came to South America to participate in the booming rubber trade in the late nineteenth century. Those Jews intermarried with the local Amazonians and developed a unique syncretic culture—part Jewish, part Catholic, and part indigenous.

Segal lived in Iquitos for two years while working on his doctoral dissertation, which later became Jews of the Amazon. Although Segal set out to write a traditional, dispassionate, scholarly study, he became an advocate for the Jewish community in Iquitos, teaching them about Judaism and helping to arrange their permission to immigrate to Israel. "He candidly documents his clouded role as a 'sentimental scholar,'" a reviewer noted in Publishers Weekly, who added that the book was an "unusual, refreshing and vividly researched cultural study." Library Journal contributor Paul M. Kaplan noted in particular Segal's "engrossing writing (at times, his account reads like a novel)" and "meticulous research," which help to make Jews of the Amazon "a fascinating scholarly book."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Choice, June, 2000, J. L. Elkin, review of Jews of the Amazon: Self-Exile in Earthly Paradise, pp. 1871-1872.

Hispanic American Historical Review, August-November, 2001, Judith Laikin Elkin, review of Jews of the Amazon, pp. 807-808.

Publishers Weekly, October 11, 1999, review of Jews of the Amazon, p. 69.

Shofar, spring, 2002, Jeffrey Lesser, review of Jews of the Amazon, pp. 159-160.

ONLINE

Jewish Agency for Israel,http://www.jafi.org.il/ (September 11, 2003), Michael Freund, "Exodus from the Amazon."*

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