Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.
view all 156

Profiles

  • Moise Yacoub Safra (1935 - 2014)
    Moise Yacoub Safra (April 5, 1934 – June 15, 2014) was a Brazilian businessman and philanthropist. He co-founded Banco Safra with his brothers Edmond Safra and Joseph Safra. Contents [show] Biograp...
  • Joseph Safra
    Joseph Safra (born 1939) is a Brazilian banker who runs the Brazilian banking and investment empire, Safra Group. He serves as the chairman of all Safra companies, among them Safra National Bank of N...
  • Isaac Roffe (1879 - 1968)
    Reference: MyHeritage Family Trees - SmartCopy : May 29 2020, 23:40:39 UTC * Reference: MyHeritage Family Trees - SmartCopy : May 29 2020, 23:54:51 UTC
  • Abraham Roffé (1857 - 1932)
    Emigration : from Morocco to Brazil - 1872 - Asilah, Morocco* Immigration : From Brazil to Morocco - Circa 1875 - Belem, Para, Brazil* Emigration : Since his leather trade failed, he went back to Afua ...
  • Anna Barcessat (1862 - 1922)
    Reference: MyHeritage Family Trees - SmartCopy : May 29 2020, 23:54:51 UTC

Jewish settlement in Brazil began when the Inquisition took hold in Portugal in the year 1497. The first documented Jewish arrival can be traced back to the year 1500 when Gaspar de Gama, a Crypto-Jew, accompanied the Portuguese admiral Pedro Alvares Cabral when he landed on the shores of what is now known as Brazil.

Like Gaspar de Gama, most Jews who arrived at that time were known as New Christians or Conversos. These were Jews who were forced by the Inquisition to convert to Catholicism or be murdered in cold blood. In order to save their lives, many Jews converted formally, but continued to practice Judaism secretly.     

1600's

The Conversos, eager to escape as far as possible from the reach of the Brazilian (Portuguese) Inquisition were responsible for penetrating deep into the Brazilian interior and settling the land. Despite continued persecution, they were able to successfully establish sugar plantations and mills, and by 1624 Jews made up a significant percentage of Brazil’s 50,000 European settlers.  Besides growing sugar cane, Jews were businessmen, importers, exporters, teachers, writers, and poets. 

The year 1624 also saw the arrival of Dutch forces in Brazil. The religiously tolerant Dutch successfully conquered portions of northeastern Brazil. Jews migrated to the tolerant Dutch areas and freely practiced their religion. In 1636, the Jews built the Kahal Zur synagogue in Recife, the Dutch capital.

By 1645, the Jewish population in Dutch controlled Brazil was 1,500, approximately half of the entire European population. Detailed synagogue records show that a well-organized Jewish community thrived there. 

The Portuguese successfully drove the Dutch out of Brazil in 1654. Once the Portuguese were again in control, the Anti-Jewish persecutions began.  As a result, there were mass Jewish migrations to places like New York and Curacao, where they laid the foundations for new Jewish Communities. 

1700 - 1880's

Jews slowly began to filter back into Brazil after 1773 when a Portuguese royal decree abolished discrimination against Jews.  In 1822, Brazil gained independence from Portugal and a steady stream of Moroccan Jews began to arrive. 

The first large numbers of European Jews, primarily German and Alsatian Jews, began arriving in Brazil around 1850. By then the Brazilian population of "conversos" had assimilated and become part of the general Brazilian population.

Towards the end of the 19th century, European Jews began discussing the idea of leaving Europe due to rising Anti-Semitism, and establishing agricultural settlements in Brazil. Several attempts were made to establish settlements, but due to poor results and political strife in Brazil, the plans were abandoned. 

1900 -

Another attempt was made in 1935 due to deteriorating conditions in Germany, but as part of a strict immigration policy against Jews, the Brazilian government refused to issue the settlers entry visas. 

In 1947, Brazil voted in favor for the partition of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel. Brazil actually played a vital role in the adoption of the resolution. Brazil formally recognized the State of Israel in February 1949. 

There were many waves of Jewish immigration to Brazil throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.  By 1969, approximately 140,000 Jews lived in Brazil.  Today, the Jewish population numbers approximately 150,000. Source

Brazilian Jews play an active role in politics, sports, academia, trade and industry, and are overall well integrated in all spheres of Brazilian life. The majority of Brazilian Jews live in the State of São Paulo but there are also sizeable communities in the States of Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, and Paraná.

DNA TESTS

It is estimated that at least 17 million Brazilians have Sephardic Jewish ancestry, most of whom are to be found to the northeast of the country. DNA testing has revealed that some Portuguese males have Sephardic ancestry; thus many Brazilians, most of whom have a degree of Portuguese ancestry, are also of Jewish ancestry, although most would not say so. Source

Notable Jews*

  • • Clara Ant, political activist and presidential adviser
  • • Jom Tob Azulay, film director
  • • Hector Babenco, film director
  • • Eduardo Saverin, Co-founder and CFO of Facebook.
  • • Leoncio Basbaum, physician and political activist
  • • Moysés Baumstein, holographer, film/video producer, painter, writer
  • • Adriana Behar, beach volleyball player
  • • Samuel Benchimol, entrepreneur and Amazon pioneer
  • • Abraham Bentes, army commander
  • • Daniel Benzali, TV actor
  • • Marcelo Samuel Berman, physicist and writer
  • • Claudio Besserman Vianna, comedian
  • • Joel Birman, writer
  • • Eva Altman Blay, sociologist and politician
  • • Debora Bloch, actress
  • • Jonas Bloch, actor
  • • Waldemar Levy Cardoso, field marshal
  • • Boris Casoy, journalist
  • • Otto Maria Carpeaux, literary critic
  • • Moyses Chahon, army commander
  • • Juca Chaves (Jurandyr Czaczkes), comedian, composer and singer
  • • Victor Civita, journalist
  • • Deborah Colker, dancer and choreographer
  • • Arnaldo Cohen, pianist
  • • Gilberto Dimenstein, journalist
  • • Alberto Dines, journalist
  • • Tufi Duek, fashion designer
  • • Dina Dublon, director
  • • German Efromovich, entrepreneur
  • • Benny Feilhaber professional soccer player[18]
  • • Fortuna, singer and composer
  • • Vilém Flusser, philosopher
  • • Marcelo Gleiser, physicist and writer
  • • José Goldemberg, educator, physicist and minister
  • • Mario Haberfeld, racing driver
  • • Alexandre Herchcovitch, fashion designer
  • • Wladimir Herzog, journalist
  • • Luciano Huck, TV show host
  • • Roberto Justus, advertiser and TV host
  • • Isaac Karabtchevsky, musician and conductor
  • • Jacques Klein, pianist
  • • Samuel Klein (businessman), entrepreneur
  • • Samuel Kicis, army commander
  • • Ithamara Koorax, jazz singer
  • • Miguel Krigsner, entrepreneur and environmentalist
  • • Celso Lafer, diplomat
  • • Cesar Lattes, physicist
  • • Jaime Lerner, politician (governor Paraná state), urban planner
  • • Alexandre Levy, musician
  • • José Lewgoy, actor and director
  • • Clarice Lispector, writer´
  • • Gerson Levi-Lazzaris, ethnoarchaeologist
  • • Carlos Maltz, drummer of rock band Engenheiros do Hawaii
  • • Noel Nutels, public health physician and human rights activist
  • • Carlos Nuzman, sportsman and president of Olympic Committee
  • • Ivo Perelman, jazz saxophonist
  • • Olga Benário Prestes, German-born communist militant
  • * Flora Purim, Jazz singer
  • • Sultana Levy Rosenblatt, writer
  • Edmond Safra, banker
  • • Jacob Safra, banker
  • • Joseph Safra, banker
  • • Moise Safra, banker
  • • Silvio Santos (Senor Abravanel), TV show host
  • • Mario Schenberg, physicist
  • • Moacyr Scliar, writer
  • • Lasar Segall, artist
  • • Ricardo Semler, entrepreneur
  • • Amir Slama, fashion designer
  • • Henry Sobel, Rabbi, community leader
  • • Mauricio Waldman, sociologist and politician
  • • Yara Yavelberg, political activist
  • • Mayana Zatz, geneticist
  • • Benjamin Zymler, auditor-general

Source