BRAZIL, South American federal republic; general population (est.) 183 million (2005); Jewish population 97,000.
Jewish history in Brazil is divided into four distinct periods with a specific interval: (a) The presence of *New Christians and the action of the *Inquisition during the Portuguese colonial period (1500–1822); (b) An interval under Dutch colonialism, with the settlement of a Jewish community in *Recife, Pernambuco, Northeastern Brazil, in the 17th century, when the Dutch promoted religious freedom for the Jews; (c) The modern period, when Brazil became an independent country (1822), up to the proclamation of the Republic (1889), when non-Catholic religions were accepted. The beginning of scattered immigration to some cities was followed by the establishment of the first Jewish community in the city of Belém in the state of Pará, in the north of Brazil; (d) The period of the Republic (in 1889 Brazil adopted a constitution that guaranteed religious freedom), from the first decade of the 20th century, when communities settled in agricultural colonies of the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) in Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of Brazil, to the years of World War I, when organized Jewish communities settled in some of the main cities of Brazil, particularly in *Rio de Janeiro, *São Paulo, and *Porto Alegre.
Estimates of the number of Jews in Brazil in 2005 range between 97,000 and 130,000 (the latter adopted by the Jewish institutions in the country). It is the fourth largest Jewish community in America, after the United States, Canada, and Argentina. The main Jewish communities are located in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, and Salvador. Although it makes up less than 0.01% of the total population of the country, the Jewish communities of these state capitals have a solid institutional network and the Jews play an important role in many different fields and activities in the country including the economy, culture, the professions, and the arts, thus forming a minority whose participation and visibility in Brazilian life very much surpasses its minute percentage. There are Jewish federations in 13 states of the country, but in some of those, such as Santa Catarina and Amazonas, there are only a few dozen families. In dozens of other cities, there are small organized communities.
The presence of Portuguese New Christians began with the discovery, conquest, and colonization of the land that would become Brazil, then inhabited by many groups of indigenous peoples. In the colonial period (1500–1822), thousands of New
Christian Portuguese came to Brazil, but they never formed an organized Jewish community that expressed publicly what could be characterized as Judaism.
Until the proclamation of independence in Brazil, in 1822, Catholicism was the official religion and there was no freedom regarding the practice of other religions. The New Christians contributed to the establishment of the first villages, to the mercantilist state and church struggle against the Indians, to the finance of and participation in the expeditions to the interior, and to cultivation of the land and of sugar cane, particularly in the mills of Bahia, Paraíba, Pernambuco, and other states. New Christians were also slave merchants, farmers, and craftsmen, among other occupations. They ascended socially and economically, but they were faced with the restrictions on belonging to religious orders or holding political positions, such as the Irmandades de Misericórdia and Câmaras Municipais (city councils), plus marriage restrictions with Old Christians. Other groups such as Indians and black slaves also suffered from these restrictions.
Some sources maintain that one New-Christian, Gaspar da Gama, was part of Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet, in 1500. A significant number of Jews were involved in the sciences and the art of navigation in Portugal during the period of overseas expansion in the early 15th century. During most of the colonial period, the Tribunal do Santo Ofício da Inquisição (the Inquisition) was active in Brazil. Established in Portugal in 1536, it operated in the Metropolis up to 1821. The conversion of non-Christians in the Americas (such as members of the indigenous and pre-Columbian cultures) was a central colonial activity in the process of the expansion of the Portuguese and Spanish empires. After the first auto-da-fé, in 1540 in Portugal, the emigration of New Christians to the Brazilian colony
The Inquisition did not settle permanently in colonial Brazil. From 1591, the Tribunal do Santo Ofício carried out several visitations to Brazil, powers were delegated to some bishops, as for instance the bishop of Bahia, and clergymen used to indict people for Jewish practices and send them for trial in Lisbon. The action of the Inquisition became more intense after the union between Portugal and Spain in 1580.
The best-known action of the Inquisition against *Crypto-Jews in Brazil were the Visitations of 1591–93 in Bahia; 1593–95 in Pernambuco; 1618 in Bahia; around 1627 in the Southeast; and in 1763 and 1769 in Grão-Pará, in the north of the country. In the 18th century, the Inquisition was also active in Paraíba, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais. The Inquisition also condemned people accused of sexual deviations, witchcraft and slandering the Holy Church.
In 1773, during the liberal government of Marques de Pombal, governor general of Brazil, the differentiation between New Christians and Old Christians was abolished and the Inquisitional procedures came to an end. Consequently the New Christians were then integrated into society at large. The Inquisition in Brazil was less systematic and more infrequent than its Portuguese counterpart, probably owing to the difficulty of controlling the colony, the fact that a permanent tribunal was never established in Brazil, and the greater permeability of the social and religious relations established in the Portuguese New World, which also allowed the New Christians to find alternative forms of social and economic advancement and often alternative ways to get around restrictions, creating identity strategies to survive socially, including, in some cases, disguising New Christian traces. During the 17th century, in Rio de Janeiro, episodes were recorded of Old Christians testifying in court in favor of New Christians belonging to the same social strata, proving that there were also forms of social intercourse coexisting with the system of Inquisitorial persecution.
According to Arnold Wiznitzer, in the two and a half centuries of the Inquisition in Brazil, around 25,000 people were brought to trial by the Portuguese Inquisition, out of which 1,500 were condemned to capital punishment. In Brazil, approximately 400 judaizers were prosecuted, most of them being condemned to imprisonment, and 18 New Christians were condemned to death in Lisbon. Three New Christian writers stood out in the colonial period with works that reveal elements of Jewish expression: Bento Teixeira, author of Prosopopéia – one of the most important colonial poems; Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão, author of Diálogos das Grandezas do Brasil (both in the 16th century); and one of the best-known Portuguese playwrights, Antonio Jose da Silva, "the Jew," who lived part of his life in Portugal and part in Brazil, and was condemned to death by the Inquisition in 1739.
The presence of New Christians in colonial Brazil has always been a controversial issue in both Brazilian and Portuguese historiography. Some historians believe that the interventions of the Inquisition Tribunal in Brazil, supported by the nobility and the Catholic clergy, were aimed at expropriating the New Christians' possessions and impeding the social ascension of a group with bourgeois aspirations. Therefore, the Inquisition created a myth regarding the origin and purity of blood, which discriminated against those with "infected blood," according to the Statutes on Blood Purity. Other historians see strictly religious and political reasons related to the history of the Portuguese Catholic Church and Portuguese Empire.
Meanwhile, some historians maintain that Judaism or Crypto-Judaism was "fabricated" during the Inquisitional processes (that is, by means of intimidating, indicting, menacing, and torturing, the Inquisition "created" Judaism or Crypto-Judaism in order to justify its own existence and legitimacy). Others maintain that New Christians deliberately and furtively professed Judaic or Crypto-Judaic traditions inherited from their ancestors, even though in the 18th century the Inquisition condemned New Christians as such, that is, as descendants of Jews rather than Judaizers, which would show a more definite anti-Judaism on the part of the persecutors. The debate includes the manner in which to read documents of the Inquisition, the main source for these studies, and in what measure they can constitute a trustworthy source from the point of view of the Jewish way of life of each person prosecuted. This debate assumes different forms when it relates to the 16th or the 18th centuries, since in the 1700s the New Christians were evidently much more distant from their Jewish origins. There was also a regional variation in Brazil that needs to be taken into account. According to Anita Novinsky, the New Christian was a "split human being," socially and existentially, with a differentiated identity in the colonial Portuguese-Brazilian world.
The anti-Jewish attitude found in the Inquisition's procedures did not lead to disseminating hatred against Jews among the population in Brazil, although the imaginary extension of the Inquisition and the terror it implied can hardly be assessed and there are traces in the country of a Catholic popular imagery, which – although it has never triggered any form of persecution in modern history – does have a relatively medieval vision of the Jews and Judaism.
There is no actual link between the history of New Christians and contemporary 20th century Jewish history. Nevertheless, the remote (and secret) Jewish origin of many traditional Catholic Portuguese has been recently acknowledged by the traditional families of the country through genealogical research, and the presence of the Jews, or "Semites," has been brought to light in the historical studies of the country. Equally, the theme and memory of the New Christians have been exaggerated by the Jewish communities in Brazil, which tend to consider erroneously all the New Christians as secret Jews, exaggerating the Jewish colonial heritage of the country. This memory often transcends the boundary which separates the New Christians' lives in the colonial period and the establishment of modern Jewish communities in Brazil, as if
The first organized Jewish community in Brazil was established in Recife, Pernambuco, in the northeast, during a brief period of Dutch colonial occupation in the 17th century, which permitted religious freedom, and legally defended Jews and New Christians from the restrictions imposed by Portugal. The estimates of the Jewish population at Recife vary considerably. According to Wiznizter, it reached 1,450 members in 1645. Egon and Frieda Wolff 's research found around 350 Jews.
From the end of the 16th century, Amsterdam became an important Jewish religious, cultural, and economic center, formed mainly by New Christians of Portuguese origin who returned to Judaism. When the West India Company, aided by the Dutch government, equipped an expedition to Brazil, some Dutch Jews joined the expedition. In May 1624 two important forts in Bahia were captured by the Dutch; but a large Portuguese and Spanish expeditionary force arrived shortly afterwards, and two months later, the Dutch had to surrender (May 1625). The West India Company soon prepared another expedition, this time to Pernambuco. The States General at The Hague proclaimed that the liberty of Spaniards, Portuguese, and natives, whether Roman Catholics or Jews, would be respected. Jewish soldiers, traders, and adventurers joined the expedition that successfully landed at the ports of Olinda and Recife in the middle of May 1630.
Johan Maurits van Nassau, who was appointed governor-general of Brazil in 1637, gave the non-Christian inhabitants of Dutch Brazil a sense of security. In 1636 the Jews founded the first Brazilian synagogue in Recife, the first on American soil: Kahal Kadosh Zur Israel. Later they founded the synagogue Kahal Kadosh Magen Abraham in Maurícia. There are records of a prayer house in Paraíba. The Jewish community was very well organized along the same lines as the mother community in Amsterdam. All Jewish residents were members of the community and were subject to its regulations, taxes, and assessments. The Jewish cemetery was located in the hinterland, separated from Recife and Maurícia by the Capibaribe River. Jews from Recife addressed an inquiry regarding the proper season to recite the prayers for rain to Rabbi Ḥayyim Shabbetai in Salonika, the earliest American contribution to the rabbinic *responsa literature.
By 1639 Dutch Brazil had a flourishing sugar industry with 166 sugar cane mills, six of which were owned by Jews. Jews also had an important role in tax farming, were engaged in the slave trade, and were also very active in commerce, and all these opportunities attracted many Jews to Dutch Brazil. In 1638 a group of 200 Jews, led by Manoel Mendes de Castro, arrived on two ships. Soon after, the Jews of Recife needed rabbis, Hebrew teachers, and ḥazzanim and thus invited the famous Rabbi Isaac Aboab da *Fonseca, one of the four rabbis of the Talmud Torah congregation in Amsterdam, and the scholar Moses Raphael *d'Aguilar to come to Brazil as their spiritual leaders. A young Jew by the name of Isaac de *Castro, who had come to Bahia – then under Portuguese rule – from Amsterdam via Dutch Brazil, was arrested for teaching Jewish rites and customs to the New Christians. He was extradited to Lisbon and was one of the victims of the auto-dafé on Dec. 15, 1647.
Jews were enrolled into the militia; one of the four companies was composed entirely of Jews and was exempt from guard duty on Saturdays. As early as 1642 the Portuguese began preparations for the liberation of northeastern Brazil. In 1645 they began a war that lasted nine years. Jews joined the Dutch ranks, and some were killed in action. Scores of people died of malnutrition. Famine had set in and conditions were desperate when, on June 26, 1649, two ships arrived from Holland with food. On that occasion, R. Isaac Aboab wrote the first Hebrew poem in the Americas, "Zekher Asiti le-Nifle'ot El" ("I Have Set a Memorial to God's Miracles"). Soon afterwards other ships arrived with 2,000 soldiers and more supplies. The war continued, and some Jews taken prisoner by the enemy were sentenced and hanged as traitors; others were sent to Lisbon for trial. The war ended with the defeat and capitulation of the Dutch in January 1654. Even though during the war many Jews died and many returned to Holland, in 1650 there were still about 650 Jews in Recife and Maurícia. It was stipulated in the capitulation protocol of January 26, 1654, that all Jews, like the Dutch, were to leave Brazil within three months and had the right to liquidate their assets and to take all their movable property with them. The majority left for Amsterdam, but some sailed to the Caribbean Islands (*Curaçao, *Barbados, etc.). Wiznitzer maintains that a group of 23 Brazilian Jews arrived in New Amsterdam (old name of New York), then under Dutch rule, on the Saint Catherine at the beginning of September 1654 and they were the founding fathers of the first Jewish community in New York. Egon and Frieda Wolff reject this historical connection and argue that there is no documentary basis to assume that the Jews who arrived in New York were the same who had left Recife during the expulsion of the Dutch.
Two years after Brazil declared its independence from Portugal (1822) it adopted its first constitution. Roman Catholicism remained the state religion, but the constitution proclaimed some tolerance of other religions. After the proclamation of independence from Portugal and during the period of monarchy in Brazilian history (1822–89), Brazil had two emperors, Dom Pedro I and Dom Pedro II. The latter was interested in Judaism, was a Hebraist, and maintained correspondence with illustrious Jews of his time and had visited the Holy Land during one of his international voyages.
The second organized Jewish community in Brazilian history, in modern times, was founded in Belém, capital of the State of Pará, in the north, in 1840, made up of Jews who had come from Morocco. The immigrants were attracted by
Early Modern Period
Contemporary Jewish Brazilian history started in the last quarter of the 19th century, when a few hundred Jewish immigrants arrived from both Eastern and Central Europe, mainly from the Alsace-Loraine region, settling in some of the main cities in the country, principally Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It was not an organized and systematic immigration flow, but one which occurred rather on an individual basis. These first immigrants did not organize a Jewish community in Brazil. The new constitution adopted by Brazil in 1891, after the country became a republic in 1889, abolished all traces of religious discrimination, ensured the civil rights of all citizens, and provided for the introduction of civil marriage and the establishment of nonsectarian municipal cemeteries. The principles of freedom of conscience and religion and equality before the law have been retained in all the constitutions subsequently adopted by Brazil – in 1934, 1937, 1946, and 1967.
The earliest discussion of a plan for the agricultural settlement of Jews took place in 1891, when the Deutsches Central Committee fuer die Russischen Juden, established after the expulsion of Jews from Moscow, sent Oswald Boxer – a Viennese journalist and close friend of Theodor Herzl – to Brazil to investigate the possibilities of founding agricultural settlements for Russian refugees. Boxer was warmly received by government representatives and after an inspection tour he reported to the committee that Jewish settlement could indeed prosper in Brazil and that the first settlers could be dispatched as early as March 1892. The revolution of November 3, 1891, and the counterrevolution of November 23, which ended the rule of General Deodoro da Fonseca, invalidated Boxer's forecast, and the project was finally abandoned in 1892, when Boxer died of yellow fever. In 1901, on the initiative of the vice president of the *Jewish Colonization Association (ICA), who had contacts with the Belgian railway company in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil again became the objective of Jewish agricultural settlement. The continuing stagnation in the agricultural colonies of Argentina prompted ICA to seek new land where the expenses of agricultural settlement would be lower than in Argentina.
The first organized immigration and the first Jewish communities in contemporary Brazil settled in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil, which borders on Argentina and Uruguay. Through the Jewish Colonization Association and by means of agreements with the state government, hundreds of immigrants from Eastern Europe settled in agricultural colonies, following the example of similar colonies established in Argentina from 1893.
The first colony in Brazil, with an area of 4,472 hectares, was Philippson, in the region of Santa Maria, in 1904, consisting of 37 families (267 persons) from Bessarabia. The first Jewish school in Brazil was founded in Philippson in 1906, where the official curriculum was taught. In 1908, the colony had 299 inhabitants. The meager chances of economic success in the settlement, contrasted with the prospect of more comfortable livelihoods as peddlers or artisans in Santa Maria soon led to the settlement's disintegration. In August 1926 the director of ICA in Buenos Aires reported that of the 122 families who settled in Philippson at various periods, only 17 remained.
In 1912 Quatro Irmãos was established, with over 350 families divided into four nuclei: Quatro Irmãos, Baroneza Clara, Barão Hirsch, and Rio Padre. The first colonists came from Argentina and Bessarabia. In each of the nuclei a school functioned, teaching both the official and the Jewish curricula. In 1915 the population in Quatro Irmãos reached 1,600 people.
The colonists also cleared fertile areas of forest and groves (mato), which were enriched by the wood ash created by burning the vegetation. The salvaged wood was sold to ICA's sawmills in the area, and, in order to facilitate transportation and marketing, ICA began building an 18-kilometer railroad that joined Quatro Irmãos and the town of Erebango early in 1918. Flour mills and a consumer cooperative organization were also established, and in 1912 a school was built and cultural life began to develop.
In 1924 Rabbi Isaiah Raffalovich arrived in Brazil as a representative of ICA. He played a decisive role in the development of the Jewish presence in the country and tried, unsuccessfully, to organize in Brazil a unified community, inspired by kehillah principles.
In the 1920s the majority of the colonists moved to Porto Alegre and other cities in the hinterland of Rio Grande do Sul, such as Erebango, Pelotas, Cruz Alta, Passo Fundo, Santa Maria, and Erechim, establishing communities in each one of these cities.
Some of the factors that made the immigrants abandon the colonies were the precarious quality of the land; lack of credit; isolation of the immigrants; lack of agricultural experience; commercial and industrial interests associated with ICA (such as the railroads) which exploited the Jewish colonists; lack of government support, plus a military uprising that occurred
From the 1920s, ICA began to concentrate its immigration efforts on the cities. In 1935, with ICA's support another small agricultural colony was established in Rezende, in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The colony was planned to be also a haven for some German Jewish refugee families who had previous agricultural experience, but they were unable to obtain entry visas because of the restrictions on Jewish immigration during the Vargas regime after 1937. Another attempt at negotiations by ICA, to bring some Polish families in 1939, similarly failed. The last families of the colony of Rezende left for urban regions in 1939.
URBAN IMMIGRATION AND THE NATIONAL BASIS OF JEWISH LIFE
From World War I and through the 1920s and 1930s Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle East formed well-structured communities in the main cities of the country, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, and Salvador (as well as Belém, where a community settled in the 19th century). This process occurred during the so-called "Old Republic" or "First Republic" (1889–1930) in the history of Brazil. Jewish immigration to Brazil counted on the direct organization and support of international Jewish assistance organizations, mainly ICA, Joint, Emigdirect, and HIAS. In many cases these organizations put pressure on local Jewish groups so as to welcome more immigrants trying to flee from Eastern Europe. Small settlements were also established in dozens of cities in the interior of Brazil, following the main economic possibilities of the country. In the State of São Paulo, some small communities settled alongside the railroad that transported coffee, the main product of the country up to 1929. They settled in places such as Santos, Campinas, Santo André, Ribeirão Preto, Piracicaba, Taubaté, São Carlos, Sorocaba, Mogi das Cruzes, and São José dos Campos.
By World War I, Brazil had a Jewish population of between 5,000 and 7,000 persons. After World War I there was a marked increase in Jewish immigration, and in the 1920s, 28,820 Jews entered the country, mostly from Eastern Europe. In the 1930s, the number of Jewish immigrants increased to approximately 56,000. According to official statistics, the Jewish population per state was as follows:
|Rio de Janeiro||25||22,393||33,270|
|Rio Grande Do Sul||54||6,619||8,048|
In Pernambuco, in 1920 there were around 150 families.
Several factors contributed to a successful process of settlement and social, cultural, and economic integration of Jews into contemporary Brazilian society from 1910. Since the end of the 19th century, and particularly after the abolition of slavery in 1888, Brazil has become a "country of immigrants," with religious tolerance and intense social and cultural permeability, which was not hindered by the manifestations of prejudice and racism. From the 1880s to the 1940s, Brazil welcomed about 4 million immigrants (65,000 of them – up to 1942 – were Jews). Mostly, immigration came from Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Japan, but also from Germany, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, and other countries. These immigrants, with their dynamic cultural, social, and economic drive, played a decisive role in the development of the country and left their mark on the urban culture wherever they settled, such as in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre.
As well as allowing religious freedom, Brazilian legislation was tolerant towards European immigrants and they could always find loopholes that allowed more immigrants to enter the country, despite legal bureaucracy and the need for "cartas de chamada" (call letters). It was not any different for Jewish immigrants; this was the open social environment full of economic opportunities that successive migratory waves met, at least until the 1930s. From the 1920s on, Brazil became a desirable and viable destination due to the restrictions and quotas imposed by the United States, Canada, and Argentina. In the 1920s, over 10% of all Jews who emigrated from Europe had chosen Brazil as their destination, and between 1920 and 1930 about half of the immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived in Brazil were Jewish. Only very traditional state circles such as diplomats and the military were not always receptive to the presence of the Jews, but this did not hinder the development of Jewish life in the country by any means. Between 1920 and 1940, immigrants took advantage of the high rates of economic growth and urbanization in Brazil, as well as the commercial and industrial opportunities available. The combination of religious and political freedom, solid community ties, and the individual dream of "making it in America," produced a social and economic dynamism that allowed for individual and collective social integration and the progress of immigrant communities.
Many of the early Jewish settlers became itinerant peddlers (klientelchik), except for a small group of immigrants who worked as artisans. In the course of time, however, this situation underwent a change. The Jewish tradesmen who settled in the country after World War I soon became manufacturers and industrial pioneers in their fields – especially in textiles, readymade clothes, furniture, and at a later period, construction. An outstanding example of industrial pioneers is the *Klabin family, leaders in paper manufacturing and related industries.
COMMUNITY LIFE AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
The organization of the community was a decisive factor for successful integration. Wherever large groups of immigrants settled, as for instance in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Salvador,
The first charitable society, Achiezer, was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1912. The Sociedade Beneficente Israelita, Relief, was founded in 1920. Three years later the Froien Farain and the Lar da Criança Israelita (children's home) were founded. The Policlínica Israelita was established in 1937, later becoming the Hospital Israelita. In Rio de Janeiro, the Sociedade das Damas would later found the Lar da Velhice (old age home), in 1963. Also, a credit cooperative was founded in that city, which was Brazil's capital until 1960 (when it was transferred to Brasilia).
In São Paulo, between the years 1920 and 1940 there were 10 charitable entities in the community which offered all the necessary support to the newly arrived immigrants, from welcome at the port, assistance to pregnant women, and loans to set up a small business. Some of these organizations were run by individuals and families who had arrived some time before and had already prospered and did not want to see their brethren having to beg in the streets or looking like poor immigrants. The Sociedade Beneficente Amigos dos Pobres Ezra was established in 1915, in São Paulo, followed by the Sociedade Beneficente das Damas Israelitas a year later. The Policlínica Linath Hatzedek was established in 1929, and later the Gota de Leite of B'nai B'rith, the Lar das Crianças da CIP, the Lar das Crianças das Damas Israelitas, the Organização Feminina de Assistência Social (Ofidas, 1940), and the Asilo dos Velhos (1941). Between 1936 and 1966 the Sanatório Ezra for tuberculosis patients operated in São Jose dos Campos (50 miles from São Paulo). It had 120 beds, taking care of Jewish people from about 30 cities from all over Brazil. In 1928 the Cooperativa de Crédito Popular of the Bom Retiro neighborhood was established.
Even though the Bom Retiro neighborhood of São Paulo concentrated the main nucleus of immigrants coming from Eastern Europe, there were also small communities scattered throughout the city, and the groups from Western Europe, the Germans, and the Sephardim basically kept themselves apart, maintaining contact only from time to time. Each group had its own burial society, but the cemetery was common to all. In Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro there were common institutions from the beginning of the immigration.
Community life also developed in and around the synagogue, social, sporting and cultural clubs, political movements, and the active press. In Rio de Janeiro, União Israelita do Brasil was founded in 1873 and the first synagogue, Centro Israelita, opened in 1910. The first Jewish institution to be opened in São Paulo was the Kahal Israel synagogue (1912). In São Paulo, the Sephardim from Lebanon and Syria founded two synagogues in the Mooca neighborhood in the 1920s. The German Jews (as well as Italian and Austrian Jews) established the Congregação Israelita Paulista in São Paulo (1936) and the Associação Religiosa Israelita (1942) in Rio de Janeiro. Both were liberal congregations.
In Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, the local União Israelita was founded in 1909 by Ashkenazi and Sephardi immigrants together. Sephardim founded the Centro Hebraico Rio-Grandense in 1922. Sibra (Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência) was created in 1936. In the interior of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, small comunities were formed in Santa Maria (1915), Pelotas (União Israelita Pelotense, 1920), and Rio Grande (Sociedade Israelita Brasileira, 1920, with many immigrants from the agricultural colony of Philipson), Passo Fundo (União Israelita Passo-Fun-dense, 1922), and Erechim (1934, Sociedade Cultural e Beneficente Israelita, with many immigrants from Quatro Irmãos).
In Salvador, capital of Bahia, a synagogue opened in a private household in 1924. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe began to arrive in Recife, capital of Pernambuco, in the 1910s and in the same year a shill in a private house was created. In 1918 Centro Israelita de Pernambuco and an Ídiche Schul were founded, followed by the cemetery (1927), the Synagoga Israelita da Boa Vista (1927), and a cooperative (1931). In the 1930s Sephardim built their synagogue in Recife. The community at Recife had a very active Jewish life, with five schools, a library, a theater group, youth movements, and Zionist women's organizations (WIZO and Naamat).
In Curitiba, capital of Paraná, União Israelita do Paraná was founded in 1913 and later became Centro Israelita do Paraná (1920). The cemetery was built in 1925 and the local community reached around 3.500 Jews.
In São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife the Jews concentrated in specific neighborhoods: in Bom Retiro, Bonfim, and Praça Onze, respectively, in the first three cities and in Boa Viagem and Boa Vista in Recife. Eliezer Levin is the main chronicler of Jewish life in Bom Retiro and the writer Moacyr *Scliar wrote several novels set in the little shtetl of Rio Grande do Sul. In Rio de Janeiro, the main writer of memoirs from Praça Onze (also the heart of the Rio de Janeiro carnival) is Samuel Malamud. In these four large Brazilian cities, a defined Jewish urban space existed, with its stories, both real and imaginary, its meeting places, bars, restaurants, and lively folklore.
Women prostitutes were exploited by the international Tzvi Migdal traffic network based in Buenos Aires from the end of the 19th century and segregated by the community. They founded the Associação Beneficente Funerária e Religiosa Israelita (1906 to 1968) in Rio de Janeiro, and the Sociedade Religiosa e Beneficente Israelita in São Paulo (1924 to 1968), with their own mutual-aid organizations. They maintained separate cemeteries in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Cubatão (a neighboring city of Santos) and a synagogue in Rio. Within the Jewish communities themselves, the traffickers sponsored the Yiddish theater. The existence of Tzvi Migdal was an issue that made newspaper headlines in the 1930s and served as a pretext for those who wanted to ban Jewish immigration. But the history of the Jewish prostitutes or polacas (Poles), as they
EDUCATION AND CULTURE
Jewish communities all around Brazil maintained schools in the most important cities where they settled. In 1929, there were 25 schools in the country, with about 1,600 students. In São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador there was an ideological plurality of schools dividing Zionists, who taught Hebrew, and Yiddishists, who taught Yiddish. In São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife there was a Jewish theater.
The Dr. Weizmann school was established in Belém, Pará State, in 1919. The Maguen David School was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1920, later renamed the Colégio Hebreu-Brasileiro. In São Paulo, a small talmud torah, a "ḥeder," opened in 1916. The first school in São Paulo was the Ginásio Hebraico-Brasileiro Renascença (1924). Renascença and talmud torah (1932) schools started to incorporate Jewish teaching with the Brazilian official curriculum, resulting in an important form of social integration for the children and young people. In São Paulo, a small school linked to the Bund existed in the 1930s and leftist sectors founded the Yiddishist Scholem Aleichem school in the 1940s. Other schools were C.N. Bialik and I.L. Peretz and the religious Beit Chinuch.
The Escola Israelita Jacob Dinezon of leftist and Yiddishist orientation was founded in Salvador in 1924. During the 1930s, a second school was founded – Ber Borochov, of Zionist orientation. Jewish schools were founded in Belo Horizonte (1928) and in Curitiba (1935). There were also schools in Nilópolis, in the interior of Rio de Janeiro State, and in Santos, interior of São Paulo.
The Jewish press in Yiddish was very active until the 1960s and there was an active Jewish press in Portuguese until the 1990s, when the remaining newspapers and magazines were confined to a limited Jewish public.
The first Jewish newspaper in Yiddish in Brazil was Di Menscheit, published in 1915 in Porto Alegre. The press reflected the ideological diversity, embracing left-wing and Zionist newspapers. Later came Kol Yisrael (1919) and Dos Idishe Vochenblat (1923), later to be called Brazilianer Yiddishe Presse (1927). Other Yiddish newspapers were Di Yidishe Folkstsaytung, Yidishe Tsaytung and Der Nayer Moment.
The first Jewish newspaper published in Portuguese was A Columna, in 1916. In 1933–39 São Paulo also had a Portuguese-language newspaper, A Civilização. Newspaper and magazines edited in Portuguese were Crônica Israelita, Semana Judaica (both linked to CIP in São Paulo), Aonde Vamos?, Shalom, O Reflexo, Revista Brasil-Israel, Encontro, and Boletim da Associação Sholem Aleichem in Rio de Janeiro. Many institutions had their own publication or newsletter.
ZIONISM AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
The large immigration of the 1920s consisted of Jews of different political positions and the whole spectrum of ideological orientation. All the Zionist parties were represented among Brazilian Jewry, and they left their mark upon the community. As a result, communal social Jewish life was greatly enriched. The first Congresso Sionista in Brazil took place in 1922, bringing together four movements – Ahavat Sion (São Paulo), Tiferet Sion (Rio de Janeiro, established in 1919), Shalom Sion (Curitiba), and Ahavat Sion (Pará) – founding the Federação Sionista do Brazil. One year before, in 1921, a Brazilian representative took part in the 12th Zionist Congress in Carlsbad. In the 1929 election to choose the Brazilian representative to the 16th Zionist Congress a total of 1,260 votes were cast, and for the Congress of 1934 the total number of votes was 2,647. The Zionist movement was very active within the Jewish communities, from Belém (Pará) to Rio de Janeiro, and in 1929, in Rio de Janeiro, Zionists assembled and marched through the streets in a public demonstration in which 1,500 people participated.
From the year 1930 Zionist youth movements were active mainly in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre: Hashomer Hatzair, Ichud Habonim, Dror, Gordonia and also the Scout movement Avanhandava. In the 1960s, Chazit Hanoar and Netzach were also active.
The leftist movements were also quite significant. The movement of left-wing Jews in Rio de Janeiro was connected with the Sholem Aleichem Library, Brazkcor, the Sociedade Brasileira Pró-Colonização Judaica in the Soviet Union, and the Centro Operário Morris Vinchevsky (the last two were established in 1928, ran a Jewish worker's school, and edited the periodical Der Unhoib). In São Paulo there were the groups Cultura and Progresso, as well as a small nucleus of Bund and later, in 1954, the Instituto Cultural Israelita Brasileiro (ICIB), the pro-Communist Casa do Povo (People's House), together with Teatro de Arte Israelita Brasileiro (TAIB) and the Escola Sholem Aleichem. Yiddish language and culture were key factors within these movements. The Jews were leaders in the Partido Comunista Brasileiro. In other communities, such as Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, and Salvador, there were also left-wing nuclei, comprising left-wing Zionists and Communists.
THE JEWS UNDER GETÚLIO VARGAS
In the 1920s and 1930s, having settled in a few cities and because of their economic, social, and cultural activities, the Jews became one of the "most visible" groups of immigrants in the words of the historian Jeffrey H. Lesser. Thus, they came to be the object of local, national, and international gambling interests, of stereotypes, and of political intrigue, "pawns of the powerful," especially during the Vargas regime (1930–45), when "the Jewish question" was raised in the country, involving political interests.
In 1930 the "First Republic" came to an end and a revolution brought Getúlio Vargas to power with a nationalist government
Nevertheless, Jewish immigration, mainly from Nazi-dominated Europe, continued individually by a variety of means, mainly case by case negotiations, but never organized through charitable organizations. From time to time, special provisions were made for the immigration of people skilled in certain fields or relatives of Brazilian citizens. The law also made it possible for the authorities to accord to tourists the status of permanent residents. Some 17,500 Jews entered Brazil between 1933 and 1939 (until 1945 an additional 6,000 entered), but many refugees from occupied Europe had their visa applications denied. During this time, some diplomats tried to act sympathetically towards the Jews; among them were Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas and Aracy Carvalho de Guimarães Rosa.
During the years of the Estado-Novo (1937–1945) and World War II, a general climate of xenophobia was present in government circles and in sectors of the political elite and among intellectuals. At least two militant Jewish Communist women were deported by Vargas' political police to Germany and handed over to the Gestapo: Jenny Gleizer and Olga Benário, wife of Luis Carlos Prestes, the most important Brazilian Communist leader, having led a Communist revolt in the country in 1935. The teaching of foreign languages and publication of newspapers in foreign languages were prohibited and immigrant organizations had to "nationalize" their names and to elect boards of directors with native-born Brazilians. As a rule, these restrictions were imposed on all immigrant groups and not exclusively on Jewish immigrants, affecting the Italians and hitting the Japanese hard (who were deported from São Paulo and Santos to the interior of the state).
Despite the dictatorship and the climate of nationalistic xenophobia, the Jewish organizations adjusted to the legislation and learned how to deal with the restrictions so as to continue operating. The schools continued to teach Hebrew and Jewish culture, the synagogues kept up their services, radio programs played Jewish music, and innumerable organizations were established during this period (including the Associação Religiosa Israelita – ARI, founded by German Jewish refugees in 1942 in Rio de Janeiro, with around 1,000 members) resulting in a very fertile period for the organizations of the Jewish community. The German Jews were the ones who became most alarmed, especially after Brazil broke off relations with Germany and Italy in 1942, but their organizations operated as usual during the war years.
During the Estado-Novo and especially in the war years, there are no records of any forcible closure of Jewish organizations in São Paulo, then the biggest Jewish community. The antisemitism which was present in governmental and intellectual circles, among diplomats and the elite, did not result in criminal actions against the Jews living in Brazil and those who managed to evade the immigration barriers. Daily Jewish life followed its normal course, in spite of the restrictions in immigration and the antisemitic rhetoric in official circles.
In São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro the communities took part in campaigns in support of the war effort by Brazil, which broke off relations with the Axis powers in August of 1942 and followed a policy of alignment with the United States and the Allies. The Jewish community of Brazil donated five airplanes to the newly created Brazilian Air Force, in 1942, and formed several committees to help refugees of the war in Europe, some of which were linked to the Red Cross. In July 1944 Brazil sent the Força Expedicionária Brasileira (FEB) to Italy, consisting of over 30,000 men, who fought together with the U.S. Army in Northern Italy, participating in the victorious battle of Monte Castello. Jews were part of the FEB. Among them were the artist Carlos Scliar, who later published an Álbum de Guerra (Album of War), and Boris Schnaiderman, who published Guerra em Surdina, an eyewitness novel about the FEB.
Also during the war, several campaigns were undertaken to help the refugees in Europe. With the restriction on imports and the naval blockade, there was significant industrial and technical development in the great urban centers, in order to supply goods that had previously been imported. This created jobs for the inhabitants of the cities, among them the Jewish immigrants who had technical, commercial, and industrial skills.
Between 1933 and 1938 the Ação Brasileira Integralista (AIB) Fascist movement was active in Brazil, led by Plínio Salgado, Gustavo Barroso, and Miguel Reale. Inspired by European and South American Fascism, Integralismo had an antisemitic platform. Gustavo Barroso, the head of the militia, was the main antisemitic spokesman. He translated into Portuguese The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and published adaptations of the book for the Brazilian public, such as A Sinagoga Paulista; Brasil, colônia de banqueiros; História secreta do Brasil, and others. Gustavo Barroso ran the column "International Judaism" in the main Integralist newspaper. He was also the author of about 80 books, a member and
After the end of World War II and with the participation of Brazil in the military campaign against the Axis, the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas fell and Brazil enjoyed a period of democratic regimes up to 1964, including the democratic election of Vargas himself as president in 1950.
It was through the creation of the Federação Israelita do Estado de São Paulo in 1946, under the inspiration of Zionism, that the community in São Paulo started to evolve a general community ideal in order to organize postwar immigration. The campaigns undertaken during the war and Zionist activism generated greater unity. The Zionist movement, which had remained inactive during the war years, resumed its public activity. The Jewish left became quite active again, also in the ranks of the Communist Party. The Federação Israelita do Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1947.
The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was a source of great encouragement to the Jewish minority in Brazil. In the period 1946–47, federations of Jewish organizations and institutions were formed in the larger communities, and 1951 witnessed the establishment of the Confederação das Entidades Representativas da Coletividade Israelita do Brasil (Confederation of Jewish Institutions in Brazil) – now known as Confederação Israelita do Brasil (CONIB) – to act as the authoritative and representative body of the country's entire Jewish community.
Jewish immigration to Brazil was resumed in the 1950s. In the period 1956–57 about 2,500 Jews from Egypt and 1,000 from North Africa (mainly from Morocco) and in 1956, some 1,000 from Hungary entered Brazil. According to the official census, the Jewish population of Brazil was 55,663 (1940), 69,955 (1950), 96,199 (1960), and 86,417 (1991). In 1991, 70,960 Jews lived in the Sudeste, mainly São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; 10,614 in the South, basically in Rio Grande do Sul; 1,693 in the Nordeste; 2,308 in the North; and 841 in Centro-Oeste. According to statistical studies, estimates of the Jewish population in 2005 were 96,700 people, but Jewish institutions in the country expanded this figure to 130,000.
Israel's War of Independence (1948) and Sinai Campaign (1956) brought new waves of Sephardi immigration from Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria, especially to São Paulo, where four new synagogues were founded from the 1960s, three of them in the neighborhood of Higienópolis. From that period Sephardi Jews became politically active in the community and leaders of some of the more important Jewish institutions in the city and also in the country, holding positions such as the presidency of Confederação Israelita do Brasil. Generally, the integration between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in Brazil was successful.
Brazilian Jews experienced considerable economic mobility. The peddlers of the prewar period eventually became wholesalers and retailers, and some also became industrialists. Besides getting involved in trade and industry, from the 1960s a significant number of Brazilian Jews began taking up various professions, becoming physicians, administrators, engineers, university professors, journalists, publishers, psychologists, etc.
Important organizations were also founded in the postwar period. The Hebraica club, founded in São Paulo in 1953, is the largest Jewish organization in the country in terms of numbers of members (25,000). In the field of charity, the Centro Israelita de Assistência ao Menor (Ciam) was created in 1959 in São Paulo, and in 1993 it also developed into the Aldeia da Esperança (Village of Hope), inspired by the model of Kefar Tikvah in Israel. Unibes, the most important Jewish charitable organization in the country, was founded in 1976. Some time later, Ten Yad was established. The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, inaugurated in São Paulo in 1971, became one of the most important hospitals in the country and maintained an active Department of Volunteers carrying out important medical and social work in a neighboring shantytown.
In 1964, through a coup de état, a military dictatorship took control in Brazil, interrupting 19 years of democracy since the end of World War II. Under the military regime, there was neither a specific Jewish policy nor any spread of antisemitism. The policies of the military government benefited the middle classes and the country underwent a development boom with high economic growth rates during the 1970s, the so-called "Brazilian miracle." In São Paulo, from 1960, many Jews improved themselves economically and moved up the social ladder, leaving the Bom Retiro neighborhood for well-to-do districts such as Higienópolis, and later Jardins and Morumbi. Thus, the centers of Jewish life in the city partly moved to other neighborhoods as well.
Before Parliament was dissolved in 1968, six Jews representing various parties were elected to the federal legislature in the 1966 parliamentary elections. There were also Jewish politicians in the state legislatures and city councils. Horacio *Lafer was a leading Jewish political figure and served as finance minister and foreign minister of Brazil. A former federal deputy, Aarão *Steinbruch, was elected senator, the first Jew to be elected to that prestigious post.
In November 1975, the Brazilian vote in favor of the UN resolution condemning Zionism as "racism" aroused considerable criticism. It was considered an expression of Brazil's
In 1978 there were antisemitic outbursts in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. In the same year, Gustav Franz Wagner, an officer who served in the Sobibor concentration camp, was arrested after participating in a meeting of the so-called "Movement for the Liberation of the German Reich." He was held by the Brazilian authorities, while extradition was requested by Austria, Poland, West Germany, and Israel. However, the requests were rejected by the Supreme Court of Brazil. Brazil was a shelter for probably a few dozen Nazis, some of whom had arrived via Argentina. Among the Nazis who took refuge in Brazil was Joseph Mengele, who probably died in the country.
The slow return of the country to democracy started in 1979, first with the Amnesty Policy and in 1984 with the direct election for president of the republic. The return to democracy in 1984 brought new hope, but also some serious economic and social crises. Under the government of Fernando Collor de Melo (1990–92, when the president was politically impeached), Celso Lafer was minister of foreign affairs. In the two terms of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994 to 1998 and 1998 to 2002) numerous members of the Jewish community took an active part in the government.
Antisemitism is not a determining factor in the contemporary history of Jews in Brazil. Apart from the activism of Gustavo Barroso and Integralismo in the 1930s, antisemitism in Brazil has never been an organized movement. Even during those years Jews living in Brazil suffered neither discrimination nor violent persecution, except for a political campaign by a specific party and official antisemitism that was oriented toward restriction of immigration. In contemporary Brazilian history, antiemitism has always been ephemeral and isolated and the majority of incidents have been limited to occasional slogans on the walls of Jewish institutions and public statements or antisemitic articles in the press or more recently on the internet, which has been used the world over as a means of racist and antisemitic propaganda.
In the 1990s a new Nazi publishing house, Revisão, published antisemitic books, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The International Jew (Henry Ford), Brasil, colônia de banqueiros written by Gustavo Barroso in the 1930s, and Holocaust denial books, such as Holocausto judeu ou alemão? Nos bastidores da mentira do século, writted by S.E. Castan. The books were well publicized and had considerable repercussions. In 1989, an alliance of Jews, Afro-Brazilians, and other sectors organized a movement (Movimento Popular Anti-Racismo – MOPAR) in Porto Alegre, to fight the antisemitic editor and his books. The Revisão publishing house took part in events and book fairs in several state capitals, which provoked much debate between those who defended absolute freedom and those who attacked the distorted, racist content of these books. In 2004, the editor S.E. Castan was convicted of racism and antisemitism by the Supreme Federal Court, the highest court in the country, establishing an important precedent in this type of case.
Anti-Zionism is an important ideological component in left-wing parties and movements in the country, mainly since the 1970s, but not always has such anti-Zionism been distinctly associated with antisemitism.
Despite the fact that antisemitism was sporadic and isolated for almost four centuries, Brazil was a Portuguese colony in which the Catholic Church and the activities of the Inquisition in the country had a decisive influence until the end of the 18th century. This left a mark on the culture, mentality and popular imagination of Brazilians, diffusing elements of a medieval anti-Judaism that associate the Jews with the crime of deicide, usury, and greed. There are many pejorative examples in the popular language, such as "judiar," meaning "to mis-treat," as well "Judeu," meaning miserly and tightfisted. Such imagery does not induce concrete action, also because over 90% of the Jews reside in large urban centers, where this imagery has even less of an impact.
Brazil is a country with a Catholic majority and a more recent high percentage of Protestants, mainly Evangelists. The growth of Protestantism helped produce a kind of philosemitism and greater support for Israel. The inter-religious dialogue, especially with the Catholic Church, is solid and permanent. Following the orientations of the Vatican II Council, the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil published a Guide for Inter-Religious Dialogue. The archbishop of São Paulo, Cardinal Dom Cláudio Humes, repeatedly positioned himself in favor of inter-religious dialogue as an important element in a country with a Catholic and Protestant majority. The liberal rabbi Henry I. Sobel, from CIP, São Paulo, led this movement in the country and played a leading role in ecumenical and political events, where the presence of a Jewish representative
In the 21st Century
As stated, the number of Jews in Brazil in 2005 was estimated at between 96,700 and 130,000. In spite of the vitality of Jewish institutional life in Brazil, there were hundreds of Jews who did not belong to any Jewish body. There were organized Jewish federations in the States of Amazônia, Bahia, Brasilia (Federal District), Ceará, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and São Paulo. The main Jewish communities were located in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre, concentrating more than 80% of the Jews in the country, followed by Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, and Salvador. In Manaus, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Natal, and Florianópolis, the Jewish communities numbered a few dozen families. Out of the 5,560 Brazilian municipalities there were very small Jewish groups in a few dozen of them.
Although constituting less than 0.01% of the total population of the country, Jewish communities were very active and the Jews made a notable impact in such areas as the economy, culture, professional life, and the arts. The Jewish population generally belonged to the middle and upper classes, which constituted a minority within society at large. In cities such as São Paulo (which boasted over 11% of the national income), the Jews constituted 0.6% of the total population, but this percentage was certainly much higher in the strata with high social, political, economic, and cultural visibility in a country where large sections of the population live in the margins of consumer society as second-class citizens.
The state policy of noninterference in religious freedom, social mobility, cultural tolerance, and the economic and urban development of the country resulted in the development of their communities and very successful integration in the middle and upper reaches of society for the majority of Jews. The economic and social crisis which began in the 1980s resulted in poverty for many of the Jews, but they were succored by a solid network of Jewish community aid and social assistance. Jewish social assistance institutions, hospitals, and sports clubs were very active. The Albert Einstein Hospital, in São Paulo, was one of the best in the country and the Hebraica club was one of the most important on the continent. Three social institutions in São Paulo, Unibes, Lar das Crianças da CIP, and Ciam were models of social assistance both inside and outside the community, maintaining important partnerships with local governments.
Although Jews individually played an important part in several areas of Brazilian culture, the depth and intensity of Jewish cultural production can be said to have been in decline since the 1970s, despite the great number of events produced by Jewish organizations.
The Arquivo Histórico Judaico Brasileiro, in São Paulo, maintained the most important historical archive and Jewish library, including a Yiddish section. The Instituto Cultural Israelita Marc Chagall, in Porto Alegre (1986), the Instituto Histórico Israelita Mineiro, in Belo Horizonte, the Arquivo Judaico de Pernambuco, in Recife (1992), and the small Museu Judaico, in Rio de Janeiro (1998), housed historical documentation and promoted cultural activities. No central cultural organization existed in the country. The Jewish communities operated with almost complete independence, with little interaction or mutual connection. The communities functioned more as a conglomerate of institutions, despite the foundation of state federations and a National Confederation, CONIB, whose activities, since its origin, have been limited to several important issues.
Cultural life was associated with social life and developed in the clubs and organizations. In São Paulo, a highly developed cultural network had its main centers in Hebraica, B'nai B'rith, CIP, and the Casa de Cultura de Israel; in Rio de Janeiro, in ARI and ASA. There were also other clubs in São Paulo (Macabi), Rio de Janeiro and Salvador.
The most important Brazilian Jewish writer was Moacyr Scliar, a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and one of the outstanding contemporary Brazilian authors. Many critics see important Jewish traces in the work of Clarice *Lispector, one of the most important modern Brazilian writers, born in the Ukraine, particularly in her book A Hora da Estrela, a classic work of Brazilian literature. Among the writers and chroniclers who wrote about the Jewish experience in Brazil, one can cite Samuel *Rawett, Jacó Guinsburg, Alberto Dines, Cíntia Moscovich, and also Samuel Malamud, Eliezer Levin, and Samuel Reibcheid. Brazil had a small, but significant movement of writers who wrote in Yiddish, among them Meir Kucinsky and Rosa Palatnik. There was also a small but significant number of memoirs of immigration, with several books on the agricultural colonies in Rio Grande do Sul, and equally memoirs of the Holocaust published by survivors who had immigrated to Brazil. The writer Stefan *Zweig, a refugee of Nazism in Brazil, wrote Brasil, País do Futuro, praising Brazil. Perspectiva was the main Jewish publishing house in Brazil, directed by Jacó Guinsburg; other publishing houses were Sefer (which ran a Jewish bookstore in São Paulo), Mayanot, and small religious publishing companies.
There were Jewish television programs in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, one of them, Mosaico na TV, was the longest running program on Brazilian television. The Jewish written press lost much of its circulation and turned inward to the community. Most of the main organizations had their own newsletters.
Among artists distinctly reflecting Jewish culture in their works, Lasar Segall was one of most important representatives of Modernism and Expressionism in Brazil and the world. In São Paulo, the Museum Lasar Segall housed his works and a
The Jewish community in Brazil did not have a central rabbinate. Each of the two major cities had several rabbis who seldom met. The larger cities had both Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogues. The Conservative/Liberal denomination of Judaism had the largest number of members: in Rio de Janeiro, Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI), with around 800 families and a woman as second rabbi, and the Congregação Judaica do Brasil headed by Rabbi Nilton Bonder; in São Paulo, Congregação Israelita Paulista and the Comunidade Shalom with 350 families and a female rabbi in 2005. The Orthodox movement, with many synagogues in the country and most of the synagogues in São Paulo, had a growing interest in Brazil, exemplified by Beit Chabad in São Paulo, and in the main Jewish communities around the country. The Beit Chabad organizational structure assists small communities, sending rabbis to visit them weekly and supplying whatever is needed for worship. In Petrópolis, State of Rio de Janeiro, the Orthodox Mahane Yisrael Yeshivah was in operation.
Jewish youth movements were still active, but with less adherence than in the 1930–80 period, when they maintained an active Zionist and ḥalutz ideology. The active Zionist movements were transformed in "identity ties" with Israel. Jewish youth also met in clubs and synagogues. Assimilation was a major issue, but difficult to measure, particularly because of the increasing number of mixed marriages and conversions, where the couples remain close to the Jewish community. The social and religious permeability of Brazilian culture makes it easy for the families to maintain more than one religion.
The terrorist attacks against the Israel embassy in 1992 and the Jewish Community – AMIA, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1994, made the Jewish communities in Brazil more cautious. They committed themselves to improving the security systems protecting Jewish institutions in a country where daily violence is on the upswing and affects the Brazilian population as a whole.
In 2001 the federal government, through the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN), declared the site occupied by the synagogue of Recife (capital of Pernambuco State) during the Dutch domination in the 17th century a "federal historic site." A museum was erected in the place where the first Jewish community settled in Brazil. The "Rua dos Judeus" (Street of the Jews) and the location of the ancient synagogue became the historic tourist attractions of the city.
In 2000 a demonstration in São Paulo led by Hebraica attracted about 10,000 people supporting Israel against terrorism and also supporting the peace process. It was the largest public demonstration of the Jewish community since the festivities celebrating the foundation of Israel in 1948.
In 2002, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers' Party), was elected president. For the first time in Brazilian history a left-wing party won the national elections with a social program whose main objective was eradicating hunger in the country. The PT already governed cities like São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte. The government's political support of the Palestinians and the Arab cause did not turn into official hostility toward Israel. President Lula visited Israel before being elected and proclaimed repeatedly his admiration for the country.
Some Jews joined the higher ranks of the federal government elected in 2002, including the spokesman of the presidency, André Singer, and special advisers to the president Clara Ant and Oded Grajew, among others. The Workers' Party (PT) maintained an officially constituted "Jewish committee" for a number of years. In 2003, President Lula, the governor of the State of São Paulo, and the mayor of the city of São Paulo were present at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Hebraica club, the largest Jewish institution in Brazil – a clear sign of the importance of the Jewish community in São Paulo and Brazil.
In 2005 the official delegation accompanying President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Rome for the burial of Pope John Paul II consisted of only 16 people, among whom was Rabbi Henry I. Sobel of the liberal CIP. This fact shows the importance and the official and public visibility of the Jewish population in Brazil.
In 2005 the main concerns of Jews in Brazil related neither to social integration nor to prejudice in a country where they could develop and progress freely, consolidating prosperous and well-integrated communities. Their main concern was the preservation of their Jewish identity in a country whose tolerance, both official and public, presents new challenges for a community searching for ways to preserve its uniqueness in the absence of external pressure.
Relations with Israel
The Brazilian statesman Oswaldo Aranha – who, as a minister in the 1930s and 1940s, was instrumental in restricting the immigration of Jewish refugees from Europe when serving as foreign minister in the war years – presided over the 1947 General UN Assembly, which voted for the partition of Palestine and the creation of the Jewish state. Apart from casting his delegation's vote in favor of the Partition Resolution, Aranha played a key role in the adoption of the resolution, preventing delaying tactics and guiding the Assembly to the conclusive vote. In appreciation of his historical role, a street in Tel Aviv and the cultural center in kibbutz Beror Ḥayil (settled by Brazilian Jews) were named after him. Brazil recognized Israel in February 1949 and from 1952 maintained an embassy in Tel Aviv; Israel had an embassy in Rio de Janeiro which later was moved to Brasilia, and a consulate general in São Paulo, which was closed in 2004.
Brazil followed the line of the Western powers on the question of Jerusalem, voting in favor of the internationalization of the city (December 1949) and against its reunification by Israel after the Six-Day War (June 1967). In the wake of the Sinai Campaign (1956), Brazil supported the creation of the UN Emergency Force and contributed a contingent of soldiers. In 1967, as a member of the Security Council, Brazil was active in the negotiations and debates that followed the Six-Day War and sponsored the Latin American resolution which blocked the acceptance of anti-Israel proposals.
In 2003 commerce between the two countries was very limited relative to their total trade. Of Israel's $31.8 billion in exports $571 million went to South America and $364 million to Brazil, representing a little more than 1% of Israeli exports and around 0.7% of Brazilian imports. Israeli imports of Brazilian products amounted to $128 million in 2003 (out of $381 million from South America), representing less than 0.75% of Israel's total imports of $34.2 billion and 0.18% of Brazilian exports.
Technical cooperation existed but could have been much more intensive, especially because of Brazil's large semi-desert areas and the necessity to improve agriculture and provide water resources. The economic and commercial interests of Brazil in Arab countries, and the adoption by different governments of Third World policies, in general hostile to Israel, have been a permanent drawback to closer relations between Brazil and Israel. Despite the inroads of the Palestinian cause in Brazil, Brazilians maintain a positive image of Israel, an example of a country which has overcome difficulties and developed both economically and culturally, particularly in the field of agriculture, which remains a permanent challenge in the semi-arid northeastern region of Brazil, an area subject to extensive droughts. This region concentrates some of the poorest communities in the country.
In 2005 the Brazilian government organized in Brasilia a meeting with Arab and South American countries to improve commercial relations between the two regions. Despite Brazil's diplomatic efforts, the final document included anti-Israel rhetoric. In 2005, after the meeting in Brasilia, the Brazilian foreign minister visited Israel to tighten political and commercial relations between the two countries.
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, a total of 9,914 Jews born in Brazil immigrated to Israel between 1948 and 2003. In 2003, 207 Jewish immigrants arrived from Brazil.
COLONIAL PERIOD: A. Novinsky, Cristãos-Novos na Bahia (1972); A. Wiznitzer, Os judeus no Brasil colonial (1960); C.E. Calaça and M.C. Maio, Cristãos Novos e Judeus: Um Balanço da Bibliografia sobre o Anti-Semitismo no Brasil (2000); E. and F. Wolff, A odisséia dos judeus no Recife. São Paulo (1979); E. Lipiner, Os judaizantes nas capitanias de cima. São Paulo – estudos sobre os Cristãos-Novos do Brasil nos séculos XVI e XVII (1969). MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY PERIOD: Collection of documents and journals at the Arquivo Histórico Judaico Brasileiro; A. Milgram, Os judeus do Vaticano. A tentativa de salvação de católicos – não-arianos – da Alemanha ao Brasil através do Vaticano (1939–1942); idem, Precursors of Zionism in Brazil before the Turn of the 20th Century (1995); B. Kushnir, Baile de Máscaras: Mulheres Judias e Prostituição. As Polacas e suas Associações de Ajuda Mútua (1996); H. Rattner, Tradição e Ruptura (A comunidade judaica em São Paulo) (1977); J.H. Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question (1995); idem, Pawns of the Powerful: Jewish Immigration to Brazil 1904–1945 (1989); M.C. Maio, Nem Rotschild nem Trotsky: o pensamento anti-semita de Gustavo (1992); M.L. Tucci Carneiro, O anti-semitismo na Era Vargas: fantasmas de uma geração (1988). L. Milman (ed.), Ensaios Sobre o Anti-Semitismo Contemporâneo. Dos mitos e da crítica aos tribunais (2004); N. Falbel, Estudos sobre a comunidade judaica no Brasil (1984); R. Igel, Imigrantes Judeus Escritores Brasileiros (1997); R. Mizrahi, Imigrantes Judeus do Oriente Médio (2003); R. Decol, Imigrações urbanas para o Brasil: o caso dos judeus (1999); R. Cytrynowicz, Unibes 85 anos. Umahistória do trabalho assistencial na comunidade judaica em São Paulo (2000); idem, Integralismo e anti-semitismo nos textos de Gustavo Barroso na década de 30 (1992); S. Malamud, Documentário. Contribuição judaica à memória da comunidade judaica brasileira (1992).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.