The Fire Within: Jews in the Amazonian Rainforest
A moving documentary that is a reflection of the survival of spirit, belief, and heritage. This is the story of the unique Jewish community of Iquitos, Peru. In the late 19th century, among the adventurers who came to the Amazonian rainforest following the great rubber boom, were Jewish men from Morocco. Some of these men settled in the isolated town of Iquitos. There, they married indigenous women, raised families, and maintained names such as Cohen, Pinto, and Khan. Their original Jewish traditions became mixed with indigenous Amazonian life creating an authentic and practically unknown Jewish tradition. Following the "discovery" of the Iquitos Jewish community, interested and well-meaning rabbis and scholars have become part of their "return" to a more normative Jewish tradition. While in the distant capital of Lima, the Jewish community is reluctant to recognize the Iquitos Jews as their own, a group of Iquitos Jews has undergone a process of conversion, and many have immigrated to Israel. Others have remained in Iquitos in hopes of helping the community flourish and grow.