Jewish Tours

Buenos Aires, Argentina


by Alden Oreck


Almost 30,000 Western European Jews came to Brazil in the 1920s and, by 1929, there were 27 Jewish schools. Despite a strict immigration policy in the 1930s, more than 17,500 Jews entered Brazil. While immigration enriched Brazilian Jewish culture, the wide array of Jewish customs and beliefs, made it nearly impossible to unify them, despite attempts by Rabbi Isaiah Raffalovitch of JCA.

Brazil began an assimilation effort in 1938 and closed the Yiddish newspapers and the Jewish organizations, both secular and religious. A wave of anti-Semitism followed, including several editions of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Only after Brazil adopted a new, more democratic constitution in 1945, did organized Jewish activities resume.

In 1947, Brazil voted for the partition of Palestine and for the creation of a Jewish state at the United Nations General Assembly. A Brazilian statesman, Oswaldo Aranha, played a vital role in the adoption of the resolution. Brazil recognized Israel in February 1949 and opened an embassy there three years later. In 1959, Brazil and Israel signed the first of several agreements to cooperate in a variety of areas, including culture, commerce, agriculture, science and industry.

In the late 1950s, another wave of Jewish immigration brought more than 3,500 North African Jews to Brazil. By the 1960s, Brazilian Jewry was thriving. In the 1966 parliamentary elections six Jews, representing various parties, were elected to the federal legislature. In addition, Jews served in state legislatures and municipal councils. In 1967, 33 Jewish schools were attended by more than 10,000 students. By 1969, approximately 140,000 Jews lived in Brazil, mostly in the large cities: Rio de Janeiro (50,000), Sao Paulo (55,000), Porto Alegre (12,000), Belo Horizonte (3,000), Recife (1,600) and Belem (1,200).

Jewish communal life was uneventful throughout the 1970s, save some minor anti-Semitic activity by the right-wing Catholic organization Tradicao, Familia e Propriedade (Tradition, Family and Property).


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