Buenos Aires, Argentina
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.
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