06 January 2010

Brazil: Jewish immigrants to be honored

Brazil has set March 18 as a day to honor the country's Jewish immigrants, according to JTA.

The country is home to some 120,000 Jews, the largest Latin American Jewish community after Argentina.

The day will be known as Jewish Immigration Day.

On December 17, Brazil's vice-president Jose Alencar signed the bill and celebrated Chanukah with the local Jewish community in Brasilia. Rabbis, Jewish officials and diplomats attended the event.

The date is significant as it is the re-inauguration date - in 2002 - of the oldest synagogue in the Americas, Kahal Zur Israel in Recife. Founded in 1636, it was built during Dutch rule. When the Portuguese took over, the Jews left for the Caribbean islands while others found their way to New Amsterdam.

The bill was introduced by Jewish congressman Marcelo Itagiba, who said it wasn't easy to find a date reflecting the contribution made by the Jewish community to Brazil.

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