IQUITOS, Peru â€” If Ronald ReÃ¡tegui Levy someday finds that he is the last Jew of Iquitos, it may well be of his own doing.
His dream, which he has vigorously pursued, is to persuade the descendants of Sephardic merchants who settled in this remote corner of the Amazon basin more than a century ago to reaffirm their ties to Judaism and emigrate to Israel.
â€œIt is getting very lonely here,â€ said Mr. ReÃ¡tegui Levy, 52, an inspector at Peruâ€™s national oil company, referring to the more than 400 descendants of Jewish pioneers who have formally converted to Judaism this decade, including about 160 members of his immediate and extended family. Nearly all of them now live in Israel.
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