Memorial 1998

In 1492, an edict in Spain gave their Jews the choice to convert to Catholicism or to leave the country. Some of them converted; a good number of them preferred to leave for Portugal. But four years later, in 1496, when the King of Portugal planned  to marry the daughter of the King of Spain, the same choice was given them again, with the difference that their children were taken and baptised immediately. Nevertheless, the Jews tried to leave the country, but there were no ships available; they could not avoid baptism and, this way, become “New Christians” who were not allowed to leave the country during the first thirty years. This fact makes it practically impossible to insist that new Christians were among  the crew of Pedro Alvares Cabral to discover Brazil in 1500.  

With the Dutch invasion of Northern Brazil, especially of Recife, Pernambuco, in 1634, Portuguese and Spanish Jews established in Amsterdam, as well as New Christians already living in this part of Brazil, founded the first Jewish community and its synagogue in Recife, first one of all the Americas. In 1654, with Northern Brazil reconquered by the Portuguese, Dutch Jews and Christians had to leave the country and the few of them who preferred to stay adhered to the predominant religion and culture.

Brazil, during its first three hundred years after discovery, allowed only citizens of the Iberian countries and their colonies (Angola and Mozambique) to enter the country. Only in 1808, after arrival of D. João VI and his Royal Court fleeing the French invasion of Portugal, Brazil opened its ports to immigration of friendly nations, mostly from England, Prussia and Northern countries of Europe. 

In 1810, Brazil still a colony, the Treaty of Friendship and Peace with England guaranteed non-Catholics liberty of religion thus starting arrival of more European countries including France after the end of hostilities. But only during the second half of the century, came the first large immigratory contingents, mostly from Italy, Russia, Poland etc.  as well as from Syria, Libya and Turkey,  and  still later, from the Orient, from China and Japan, creating thus a mixture of different races, religions and culture, origin of the Brazilian people.

Since 1820, a considerable number of Jews from Morocco also arrived in Brazil. They came from different cities, but mostly from Tanger, Fez, Tetuan, Rabat and other ones. Some of them came to Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, but most of them landed in the northern part of Brazil. The reason for the coming of these immigrants, probably, was the desire for better opportunities in a new country, especially in the region of the Amazon Forest. But due to the danger of contracting yellow fever in Belém, they went inland, up the rivers, establishing themselves in small localities doing business and mixing with the native inhabitants. With the start of the rubber boom and its industries, more and more Moroccans arrived in this part of the country. Descendants of these immigrants are believed to number about 50.000 people nowadays.

© 2005 – 2020 Memorial Judaico de Vasouras. All rights reserved.
© 2005 – 2020 Memorial Judaico de Vasouras.
All rights reserved.