Brazilian Jewish Farming Communities

Cemitério_Judaico_Quatro_Irmãos_Placa

Entrance to the Quatro Irmaos Farming Community Cemetery

This post contains a short history of the Brazilian Jewish farming communities supported by Baron Hirch’s legacy and some references. Baron Hirsch established the Jewish Colonization Agency (JCA) in 1891  “to assist and promote the emigration of Jews from any part of Europe or Asia… and to form and establish colonies in various parts of North and South America ….”. And during the Baron’s  lifetime the Agency supported farming communities for Eastern European Jewish immigrants in Argentina, the United States and  Canada.

But after the Baron’s death in 1896, the new directors of the JCA decided to establish additional communiities in the extreme South of Brazil. They were located near the city of Santa Maria in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. These Brazilian communities were not successful. Perhaps it was because  the new directors of the JCA had commercial as well as philanthropic interests in mind. Many of the JCA Board members were involved in railroad construction in Brazil. And the Brazilian government paid the new railroad companies for each immigrant it settled near the new railroad lines.

Within twenty years, almost all of the few thousand immigrants who came to settle in these Brazilian communities had moved to urban areas. And even though the communities themselves were not successful, the immigrants were. Today their descendants are top professionals and business people.

The first JCA community in Brazil was Philippson, founded in 1904.  Quatro Irmãos, founded in 1912, was the other major community.

MORE INFORMATION

You can read more about these colonies in the after word to On a Clear April Morning. This is the first literary work to reflect the Brazilian  Jewish community.  Finally it is  available in English.

For additional information, see

The official history of the Jewish Colonization Agency, An Outstretched Arm.  https://archive.org/stream/cu31924011030396/cu31924011030396_djvu.txt

or

Jewish Colonization in Rio Grande Do Sul, 1904-1925,  by the foremost U.S. authority on these communities,  Jeff Lesser, of Emory University.  This book was published in 1991 and is out of print.  But it is available at the Library of Congress, the NY Public Library and many university libraries. Check on worldcat.org. to see where it is available near you entering your zip code or town.

We can also offer a long list of resources in Portuguese. Just send  a request through the reply form below.

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