In northern Brazil, Sephardic converts are giving dwindling Jewish communities a new lease on life

The interior of the Kahal Zur synagogue, once a large Orthodox establishment in Recife, Brazil, that was restored in 2002 as a museum and also contains a small egalitarian shul.(Wikimedia Commons)

RECIFE, Brazil (JTA) — Preparing to leave this city’s main Jewish community center, Sabrina Scherb peeks beyond its blast-proof gate into a quiet street strewn with branches and shredded mango fruits.

The debris, left over from an overnight tropical storm, is not what’s worrying Scherb, a 22-year-old university student and volunteer dance instructor.

“I’m looking to see if it’s safe,” she said, walking briskly to a friend’s parked car after giving an Israeli folk dance class. “I’m afraid all the time of robbery, or worse. I plan my life so I spend the least amount of time on the street. We all do.”

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