Washington DC: Jews of Brazil program, Oct. 20

The Library of Congress will host Daniel R. Pinto of the Embassy of Brazil for an illustrated lecture on the Jews of Brazil at noon Tuesday, October 20.

The free program is open to the public and is sponsored by the LOC’s African and Middle East Division (which incorporates the Hebraic Section) and the Hispanic Division.

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

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.

The program will be held 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.

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