GERCHUNOFF, ALBERTO (1884–1950), Argentine author, essayist, and journalist born in Proskurov, Russia. Gerchunoff arrived in Argentina as a child when his father became a pioneer settler of Moisés Ville, one of the JCA agricultural colonies financed by Baron Maurice de *Hirsch. Young Gerchunoff settled in Buenos Aires, where he became a journalist. In 1908 he joined the staff of La Nación, a leading daily, with which he was associated for over 40 years, part of the time as chief editor. Gerchunoff's first, and most famous, book was Los Gauchos Judíos (1910; The Jewish Gauchos of the Pampas, 1955), a collection of stories describing the life of Jewish colonists in Entre Ríos conceived by him as "a new Zion." This first Spanish account of immigration to the New World remains as the founding work of Jewish Latin American writing, though his intent to show that the return to agriculture was creating a new harmonious Jew who would enjoy full acceptance in Argentina has been strongly criticized by later generations. Gerchunoff also published books of stories such as Cuentos de ayer ("Stories of Yesterday," 1919) and Historias y proezas de amor ("Stories and Feats of Love," 1926); the autobiographical Entre Ríos, mi país ("Entre Ríos, My Country," 1950); and collections of essays such as El pino y la palmera ("The Pine and the Palm," 1952) and La jofaina maravillosa ("The Wondrous Washbasin," 1923). Gerchunoff was the founder and first president of the Argentine Writers' Association and was an active politician. He was detached from Jewish life for many years. Following the rise of Hitler, however, he became involved in activities against world and local antisemitism and a convinced Zionist. From 1945 onward he canvassed the support of Latin-American statesmen and politicians for the establishment of a Jewish state and was instrumental in securing their aid at the United Nations in 1947–48.
S. Jaroslasky de Lowy, Alberto Gerchunoff: Vida y Obra, Bibliografía-Antología (1957), offprint from Revista Hispánica Moderna, 23:3–4 (1957); M. Kantor, Sobre la obra y el anecdotario de Alberto Gerchunoff (1960), lists all his published and unpublished work (3,000 articles and essays), offprint from El hombre importante (1934); Davar, 31–33 (Buenos Aires, 1951), special issue. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Aizenberg, Parricide on the Pampa? A New Study and Translation of Alberto Gerchunoff's Los gauchos judíos (2000); E. Aizenberg, Books and Bombs in Buenos Aires. Borges, Gerchunoff and Argentine-Jewish Writing (2002); M. Kantor, Sobre la obra y el anecdotario de Alberto Gerchunoff (1960); N. Lindstrom, Jewish Issues in Argentine Literature (1989); D.B. Lockhart, Jewish Writers of Latin America. A Dictionary (1997); L. Senkman, La identidad judía en la literatura argentina (1983).
[Florinda F. Goldbeg (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.