Johannes Blaeu ~ ca. 1662

Up Catalog

Brazil  2833

     In response to the "Decree of Expulsion" of King Manuel I of Portugal, many "New Christians," Jews who outwardly followed Catholic traditions while inwardly they maintained their Jewish religion, rituals, tradition, and culture, left Portugal. Some, after a stay in the Netherlands, immigrated to Recife, Brazil. After the Dutch gained control of Recife in 1630 the synagogue, Kahal Zur Israel, under the leadership of Isaac Aboab da Fonseca as rabbi, was founded and flourished between 1636 and 1654 when the Portuguese regained control of the town.
     Religious toleration ended and both the Dutch and Jews left. Many Jews returned to Amsterdam; some fled to the interior of Brazil. A group of 23 sailed for New Amsterdam where they founded Shearith Israel Synagogue, the first Synagogue in North America.
     The existence of Kahal Zur Israel was rediscovered and excavations began in 2000. The present small Jewish community plans to reconstruct the synagogue and turn it into a museum and Jewish cultural center.
     The stamp was issued by Brazil in 2001 to commemorate Kahal Zur Israel. The map, Nova et Accurata Brasiliae totius Tabula by Jan Blaeu, ca. 1662, forms the background, with a red dotted line indicating the arrival of Dutch Jews in Recife, and their departure to New Amsterdam. The ship (a caravel) and the flag are both Dutch.

SCN 2833

Back Next