Jewish Tours

Buenos Aires, Argentina


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.


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