The oldest synagogue in the new world is in Brazil

While the synagogue “Kahal Zur Israel (Rock of Israel Community) is now a museum and research center, and only rarely used for religious celebrations, is a landmark of Jewish culture in the New World.

Recife, Brazil .- Brazil is a country that is currently open to all religions. And it does not hurt that the oldest synagogue in the Americas is located right on the Rua do Bom Jesus “, the” Street of the Good Jesus.”

Only signs in the old part of Recife refer to the small street that has existed for centuries in the past called “Rua dos Judeus”, ie “Street of the Jews.”

While the synagogue “Kahal Zur Israel (Rock of Israel Community) is now a museum and research center, and only rarely used for religious celebrations, is a landmark of Jewish culture in the New World.

Crowding and stretching, the students try to see what is hidden under the huge transparent glass. Poorly lit, it sees a “Bor,” a source from which water was extracted for the Jewish rite of purification.

“The men at least once a year, women every month,” says museum guide for children. The source is in original condition, the floor is in the first half of the seventeenth century.

The “mikvah”, the ritual bath located about two meters, was rebuilt. Excavations began in the late 90’s, after the discovery of the remains.

“Three rabbis from Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Israel investigated in detail the source and measured and checked, yes, a ‘Bor’,” says historian Stephanie Zumba on the exciting discovery in the building, which finally ran a business of electrical goods.

The young Brazilian scientist working in the Archives of Jewish History in Pernambuco, located on the top floor of the restored building that houses the synagogue.

From there, visitors have a view of a balustrade in the prayer room and the chest of the Torah. There are banks on both sides. Among the brown brick wall of the seventeenth century is, like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, many small roles in sentences.

How did the Jews for centuries to Recife? What attracted them to this city on the Atlantic, so far from home? The reasons, as so often in the history of the Jewish people, are related to persecution, expulsion and flight.

Recife was between about 1630 and 1654 an “oasis of religious freedom.” “For many Jews this region of Brazil was a country of great opportunities,” said Zumba. The Dutch conquered the Portuguese Catholics in Recife, northeast and set up his headquarters. They gave this area prosperity, openness and freedom of worship.

And that drew thousands of Jews who had fled the Inquisition’s henchmen and the looming forced Christianization of Spain and Portugal to the Netherlands, especially Amsterdam.

The synagogue in Recife was founded by Sephardic Jews, ie Jews from Spain and Portugal. Construction work began in 1637 and the synagogue was opened in 1642. But these times of freedom only lasted barely a quarter-century. In 1654, the Portuguese defeated the Dutch, so his was in the northeast of Brazil was finally over.

For the Jews of Recife became the old horror. Many returned to Amsterdam, but 23, including men, women and children, took a different course and a boat trip after nine months landfall early September 1654 in “Nieuw Amsterdam”.

There were not well received by Governor Peter Stuyvesant, a despot and anti-Semitic, but stayed and founded the first Jewish community in the city, ten years later was conquered by the British and has since been named New York.

Originally published here: https://www.vanguardia.com.mx/lasinagogamasviejadelnuevomundoestaenbrasil-703996.html

Resources

Related Articles

Archive Search

Search the world's largest online archive of material about Jewish diversity.


Archive Search

Search the world's largest online archive of material about Jewish diversity.


.