Brazilian Jews Take to Streets To Join Massive Push for Change

Youth Inspired by Jewish Values — and Israeli Protests


By Andrea Palatnik

Published July 06, 2013, issue of July 12, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

When Alan Rochlin joined hundreds of thousands of Israelis who took to the streets in 2011 to protest skyrocketing living costs, he never imagined he would be doing the same in his native Brazil just two years later.

But as Brazilians made international headlines in late June with massive anti-government protests, Rochlin, a 21-year-old marketing student and leader of the Jewish youth movement Chazit Hanoar Hadrom Americait (Youth Front of South America), was one of many Jews among them.

For Rochlin, the connection was obvious.

“Israeli society took to the streets in order to have a debate and start a dialogue,” he said, recalling his experience during an extended stay in Israel. Similarly in Brazil now, “we are debating, questioning and demanding change, and we’ll follow through to make sure [changes] are really going to materialize.”

Rochlin, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, is far from alone. Jewish movements such as Hillel, Habonim Dror and Chazit Hanoar, and their members, have joined the wide cross-section of Brazilians now rocking the country with their protests. But while the Jewish protesters’ sentiments are part and parcel of the feelings sweeping across Brazilian society, many cite their identity as Jews as a primary wellspring of their activism.

“I believe the highest call of my Jewish identity is to change the world. I hold tikkun olam [repair of the world] as the most coherent expression of Jewish values,” said Bruno Cintra, a blogger well known in the Jewish community for his writing on Brazilian culture and politics.

Cintra spoke to the Forward while sitting on a plastic chair in the middle of Delfim Moreira Avenue, one of Rio de Janeiro’s most expensive and exclusive beachside roads. After participating in many of the protests, Cintra decided to join a movement called Ocupa Cabral (Occupy Cabral), which set up camp with a dozen tents and pan-drumming demonstrators in front of the building of Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral on this tony street. Police evicted Cintra’s group on the night of July 1, the 11th day of its sit-in. But the group is already planning a reoccupation.

“After so many years of crime, robbery and massacres, the people took to the streets and erupted in peaceful protests,” Cintro said, alluding to the corruption that protesters cite as one of the main targets of their ire.

The protests peaked most recently on June 20, when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of downtown Rio in a peaceful demonstration; it was the largest protest in the country since the pro-democracy rallies of 1984. The show of people power came after a week of demonstrations, held in more than 100 cities in nearly every state of the nation. Protesters, many of whom come from the middle and upper-middle class, cited a panoply of long-standing discontents, including corruption, skyrocketing living costs and what they see as the refusal of the political class to even hear their complaints. Still, the true meaning of what’s going on remains hard to grasp.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.