Jewish Tours

Buenos Aires, Argentina


Independent Brazil

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 the wealth derived from the rubber economy. They established the first modern synagogue in the country, Eshel Abraham, in 1823, and around 1826 the second one, Shaar Hashamaim. The first synagogue followed the rites of Tanger and Tetuán (which later became part of Spanish Morocco), and Shaar Hashamaim followed the rites of Arab Morocco (later under French colonial rule, Algeria, and other parts of North Africa. In 1842 a Jewish cemetery was founded in the same city. Revival of the rubber industry between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th attracted more immigrants. Immigrants from Morocco formed small communities in other places in northern Brazil. There were also small Moroccan nuclei in the Amazonas, another northern state, attracted by the wealth of the rubber industry, in places such as Itacoatiara, Cametá, Paratintins, Óbidos, Santarém, Humaitá, and others. Most of these Jews mixed with the local population, giving origin to many local legends mixing Judaism and Catholicism. By World War I, Belém's Sephardi community, of Moroccan origin, had about 800 people.


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