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October 8, 2009

Jews of Brazil Subject of Oct. 20 Lecture at the Library of Congress

The history of the Jews in Brazil is long and complex. Jewish settlers came to Brazil in 1500, fleeing persecution in Portugal in the wake of the Spanish Inquisition. Under Dutch rule, the Jews of Brazil worked on sugar plantations and were allowed to practice their religion. They established a synagogue in Recife in 1636, the first synagogue in the Americas. Less than two decades later Brazil fell under Portuguese rule, which caused many Jews to leave the country. Some of these refugees fled to New Amsterdam (New York), founding the first Jewish community in America in 1654. When a Portuguese royal decree abolished discrimination against Jews in 1773, Jews began to return to Brazil. By 1920, more than 7,000 Jews lived in Brazil. More than 100,000 Jews—less than .01 percent of the population—live in Brazil today.

Daniel R. Pinto of the Embassy of Brazil will deliver an illustrated lecture on "The Jews of Brazil" at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 20, in the African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED) Reading Room, Room 220 of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored jointly by AMED and the Hispanic Division, the event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Daniel R. Pinto was born in Rio de Janeiro to Egyptian Jewish refugees. He was educated at the French School in Rio de Janeiro and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Candido Mendes University in Rio de Janeiro. Pinto worked in the tourist, health care and banking industries before joining the Brazilian Foreign Service in 1999. Since 2006, he has been posted at the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D.C., where he follows intellectual property and trade policy issues.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

The Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division (www.loc.gov/rr/amed/) is the center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia. The division’s Hebraic Section is one of the world’s foremost centers for the study of Hebrew and Yiddish materials.

The Hispanic Division, established in 1939, is the Library's center for the study of the cultures and societies of Latin America, the Caribbean, the Iberian Peninsula and other areas where Spanish and Portuguese influence have been significant. For more information about the division and its resources, go to www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic.

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PR 09-207
10/08/09
ISSN 0731-3527

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