Thursday, February 11, 2016

Brazil's attitude Towards Jews and Israel

Nadene Goldfoot                                           
The beaches of Fernando de Noronha are promoted for tourism and recreational diving in Brazil.  The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha in 2005 had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of R$22,802,000 and a per capita income of R$10,001. Based on the written record, Fernando de Noronha island was discovered on August 10, 1503, by a Portuguese expedition, organized and financed by a private commercial consortium headed by the Lisbon merchant Fernão de Loronha.   Marranos had moved to Lisbon, Portugal from Spain.  

The Spanish Inquisition had a great affect on South America's populating the land by Europeans. It was created by the Catholic Church and its function was to punish Jews for heresy.  The Catholic Church held forced conversions, and if the Jews were caught practicing their Judaism, were considered heratics and killed.  As our generation has created fantastic modes of travel, the Inquisition generation had created the most cruel of apparati to punish people to the death.  Thomas de Torquemada was the inquisitor-general in 1483.  His role in this was spelled out from the Papal Bull of 1478.  Portugal was where the Inquisition started their cruelty practices.  Spain was not forgotten. They managed to stamp out the native Judaizers almost entirely by the end of the 16th century.

 As for Brazil, one of the first Brazilian pioneers in 1503 was Fernando de Loronha/ Noronha, thought to be a hidden Jew called a Marrano in those days.  "The history of Brazil starts with indigenous people in Brazil.   Europeans arrived in Brazil at the opening of the 16th century.
The first European to colonize Brazil was Pedro Álvares Cabral on April 22, 1500 under the sponsorship of Kingdom of Portugal. From the 16th to the early 19th century, Brazil was a colony and a part of the Portuguese Empire.

We don't use this word, Marranos" today, but instead they are called Anusim.  Marranos is Spanish for "swine," pigs which are not eaten by Jews.  The term was used in Spain and Portugal for the descendants of baptized Jews suspected of secretly following their Judaism.  Jews there felt they had to hide their religion after the 1391 massacres and the Dominican campaign led by Vicente Ferrer at the beginning of the 15th century.  The Inquisition was introduced into Spain in 1480 and began a horrid campaign of repression, which continued unremittingly after the expulsion of Jews from their country of Catholicism in 1492-yes, the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  Today we see most Anusim reuniting with their Jewish heritage and turning out to be avid Jews relishing the freedom of being able to practice their faith openly.

Forced conversions in Portugal began in 1497, which converted almost the whole population of Jews living there as most had moved to Portugal from Spain after living through their horrors.  What the Inquisition did was create Jews into titular but insincere Christians.  The Inquisition came to Portugal's Jews in 1540.  Portuguese immigrants were the objects of persecution in Spain down to the close of the 18th century.

Fugative Marranos escaped overseas to Italy, North Africa and many emmigrated to Turkey where they joined up with other Jews who had moved their earlier.   They even hunted Marranos down in Mexico.

Later on, there were Marrano immigrants from Portugal that came to Brazil.  Those that were deported by the Inquitisition started up the sugar and tobacco industries and developed rice and cotton plantations.

The Inquistition heads in Spain got wind of where these hidden Jews had moved to, like Brazil, and made inquisitional "visitations" which means  head-hunting those who had escaped punishment in 1591 to 1595 which in 1618, finally led many Marranos to leave for other safer countries.

Though Jews have been living in Brazil, the country hasn't really changed their attitude. In 1933, German Jews had escaped persecution and moved there.  Many moved there after WWII.  By 1990 the Jewish population was 150,000 of which 20% were Sephardim.  Their occupations were that of merchants, manufacturers, factory and property owners as well as professional workers.  55,000 lived in Rio de Janeiro, 75,000 in Sao Paolo, 15,000 in Porto Alegre, and others were scattered into smaller communities.

Update 2/12/16: "Brazil's Reaction to the racial laws of the Nazis-

Jews did not have the needed Baptismal certificates in order to get into South American countries from Germany in 1939.  

In 1939, the newly elected Pope Pius XII appointed several prominent Jewish scholars to posts at the Vatican after they had been dismissed from Italian universities under Fascist leader Benito Mussolini's racial laws.  Pius later engineered an agreement —formally approved on June 23, 1939 —with Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas to issue 3,000 visas to "non-Aryan Catholics."
However, over the next eighteen months Brazil's Conselho de Imigração e Colonização (CIC) continued to tighten the restrictions on their issuance—including requiring a baptismal certificate dated before 1933, a substantial monetary transfer to the Banco do Brasil, and approval by the Brazilian Propaganda Office in Berlin—culminating in the cancellation of the program fourteen months later, after fewer than 1,000 visas had been issued, amid suspicions of "improper conduct" (i.e. continuing to practice Judaism) among those who had received visas."
Egon Albrecht was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II.[ Albrecht was born in Curitiba, Brazil.[
After the Holocaust, Brazil granted asylum to thousands of Nazi war criminals.  1,500 to 2,000 Nazis had escaped to Brazil, only one of other South American countries that took Nazis in after WWII.  

Last December, Brazil refused to accept Dani Dayan, Israel’s candidate for ambassador to Brazil, because he lives in, and works on behalf of, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.   And just last week, Brazil opened an embassy for the PA, with a structure that resembles the Dome of the Rock. The not-so-veiled message is that Brazil supports the Palestinian goal of separating the Temple Mount from its Jewish and Biblical origins.

"Until recently Catholicism was overwhelmingly dominant. Rapid change in the 21st century has led to a growth in secularism (no religious affiliation). Just as dramatic is the sudden rise of evangelical Protestantism to over 22% of the population. The 2010 census indicates that fewer than 65% of Brazilians consider themselves Catholic, down from 90% in 1970. The decline is associated with falling birth rates to one of Latin America’s lowest at 1.83 children per woman, which is below replacement levels. It has led Cardinal Cláudio Hummes to comment, "We wonder with anxiety: how long will Brazil remain a Catholic country?"
                                                                     Aedes aegypti mosquito, one of the transmitters of the Zika virus. (Wikimedia Commons)
Now people are afraid to go to Brazil for fear of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, one of the transmitters of the Zika virus, for Brazil is the first country to be invaded by this mosquito.  Already, states in the USA have found it.  The virus causes "mental retardation and other intellectual deficits in the newborn." "Since it was first discovered in Uganda in 1947, Zika virus was known mostly as a short-lived and mild illness. In 2015, that all changed. An outbreak in Brazil is suspected of causing cases of a serious birth defect, microcephaly, and a potentially crippling disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome." 200 million people are at risk on the globe for they live in the environment condusive to mosquitos' presence.  

'The 2016 Olympics are scheduled for Aug. 5-21 in Brazil, where the Zika virus is spreading rapidly. Speaking at a news conference in advance of the U.S. team's tournament opener against Costa Rica, coach Jill Ellis said there have been "constant conversations behind the scenes" about the virus. Hope Solo, who is on the USA soccer team, is thinking of cancelling out because of this virus."                            
                                                                             Rio Carnival 2016
Another way Brazil will be hurt is during Carnival time in Rio de Janeiro.  Although Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is celebrated in towns and villages throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival capital of the world. The Rio Carnaval is not only the biggest Carnival, it is also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared and one of the most interesting artistic events on the globe. Almost everyone has heard of Rio Carnaval. Foreign visitors to it alone number around 500,000 every year.  

Rio Carnival is a wild 5-day celebration, 40 days before Easter. 
It officially starts on Friday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday after which one is supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures.  Good Friday is on the 25th of March this year and Easter is on the 27th, a Sunday.  Fat Tueday, it's beginning is on the 22nd of March and the next day-Lent-is also Purim, the Jewish holiday of celebration and parades and costumes commemorating the freeing of Jews from the clutches of Haman who had the extermination  day of all Jews in the Persian kingdom already in the plans.   This historical episode was written about before 330 BCE.  

Carnival Time is almost here.  Are many going to attend?  As of February 10th, the USA has had 52 reported Zika virus-caused flu cases due to traveling.  Brazil has amended their report and now say "that just 270 were confirmed as microcephaly (baby born with smaller odd shaped head-mentally impaired) that appears to be linked to Zika or other infectious diseases, according to the latest ministry bulletin."


The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia


  1. A very good write up and a great history lesson.

  2. Thank you, Bill Williams. I appreciate your comment.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Record Number of Brazilian Jews Moving to Israel (JTA)
    In 2015, 463 Brazilian Jews immigrated to Israel, a record number, amid the country's worst economic crisis in a century.