Skip To Content
Breaking News

Tropical Storm Rips Into Jewish Cemetery in Brazil

A tropical storm in eastern Brazil devastated the Jewish cemetery of the State of Bahia.

Jewish graves were destroyed when the torrential rain and winds brought down a massive tree atop the Jewish Cemetery of Bahia in Salvador on April 10, Luciano Fingergut, the Bahia community’s president, wrote in a statement earlier this week.

The cemetery, founded over a century ago, was scheduled to serve as the venue for the community’s annual Holocaust Day commemoration held on April 16. But after the cemetery’s closure for repairs, organizers had to find an alternative venue.

CONIB, the umbrella group representing Brazil’s Jewish communities and organizations, launched a fundraising campaign to finance urgent repair work, which CONIB said will be extensive.

“CONIB stands in solidarity with the Bahia community, will help the local community and asks for the entire community’s help for the immediate restoration of the cemetery,” CONIB wrote in a bulletin containing a bank account for donations. The community is compiling a list of families whose burial plots were damaged.

Jewish presence in eastern and northeastern Brazil dates back to the 15th century, when Sephardic Jews fleeing the inquisition in Iberia moved to Brazil, then a Portuguese colony, to escape persecution.

In Bahia, a Jewish presence is first documented in 1610, in texts that reveal that the area’s physicians were mostly “new Christians,” a term for Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition.

The nucleus for Bahia’s modern Jewish community formed in the 1920s as part of a government-led process of urbanization of far flung areas beyond centers of civilization such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. In 1940, the State of Bahia had approximately 1,000 Jews, government censuses show. It now has approximately 800 people who self-identify as Jews.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.