07.06.2011 5.Siwan, 5771 Erew Schawuot; Tag 49 des Omer
In honor of Shavuot, chef Dennis Wasko serves up a sweet dairy treat popular among Jews who hail from this tropical climate.
Jewish settlement in Brazil began when the Inquisition took hold in Portugal in the year 1497. The first documented Jewish arrival can be traced back to the year 1500 when Gaspar de Gama, a Crypto-Jew, accompanied the Portuguese admiral Pedro Alvares Cabral when he landed on the shores of what is now known as Brazil. Like Gaspar de Gama, most Jews who arrived at that time were known as New Christians or Conversos. These were Jews who were forced by the Inquisition to convert to Catholicism or be murdered in cold blood. In order to save their lives, many Jews converted formally, but continued to practice Judaism secretly.
The Conversos, eager to escape as far as possible from the reach of the Brazilian (Portuguese) Inquisition were responsible for penetrating deep into the Brazilian interior and settling the land. Despite continued persecution, they were able to successfully establish sugar plantations and mills, and by 1624 Jews made up a significant percentage of Brazil’s 50,000 European settlers. Besides growing sugar cane, Jews were businessmen, importers, exporters, teachers, writers, and poets….