Jewish city tours,
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Travel advice by locals for Jewish travelers
in Central & South America and Worldwide


Address: Rua do Bom Jesus, 197/203
Phonenumber: (55) 81-3224-8351
Mail: [email protected]

The Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue (in Hebrew: Rock of Israel) dating from 1636, is the first synagogue in Latin America.

It is located at Rua do Bom Jesus, ancient ?Jews Street? in the city of Recife, state of Pernambuco in Brazil.

Its facilities include today the "Historical Archive of Penambuco Judaic" in the district of Recife, in the historic city center.

While the city was part of the Dutch crown (before the Portuguese conquered it), between 1630 and 1654, freedom of religion was guaranteed by the crown, setting the conditions for the beginning of a Jewish community that blossomed shortly afterwards.

During the rule of the Dutch Joao Mauricio de Nassau, between 1637 and 1644, Jewish immigration to Brazil was constant.
Most of the immigrants escaped from Spain and Portugal, fleeing the persecution of the Inquisition.
Some of them took refuge in the city of Recife, in the province of Pernambuco, in the north of Brazil.

Rabbi Isaac Aboab da Fonseca founded in those years the Congregation Zur Israel, and the first synagogue in the Americas was built there.
They also built two Jewish schools and a cemetery.

But in 1654 the Portuguese replaced the Dutch rule, and these new conquerors brought the Inquisition with them. Many Jews were arrested or deported to Lisbon in order to stand trial before the Inquisitorial Tribunals. Others managed to escape.

In September 2000, two centuries after the Jews resettled in Brazil, and almost four centuries after the synagogue was founded, archaeologists, led by Marcos Albuquerque, began excavations to find the remains of the ancient synagogue and finally, under eight floor levels to 80 centimeters of the current city land, they found the synagogue's original floor.

Another finding confirmed the locaton of an old mikveh, that followed all religious requirements and typical characteristics.

In 2001 the synagogue was rebuilt, using the same floor and some of its original walls from 1636.

Zur Israel today is the place of prayer for only 300 Jews living in Recife, and an interesting museum for visitors of the city.

Besides the objects and the temple itself, visitors can observe the different layers of floor found in the excavations through a glass surface, and the historical mikveh.

The archaeological material is from the 17th century.
The facade on the building is from the 19th century.

Visiting hours:
Tuesday to Friday 9 am to 5pm (entrance allowed until 4:30pm)
Sunday 2pm to 6pm (entrance allowed until 5:30pm)

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