Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue

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Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue
קהל צור ישראל
Sinagoga Kahal Zur Israel
Sinagoga Kahal zur Israel, Fachada.JPG
DistrictRecife Antigo
LocationRua do Bom Jesus (Rua dos Judeus) 197 Recife, Brazil

Kahal Zur Israel was a Jewish synagogue located at Rua do Bom Jesus (Rua dos Judeus) number 197 in Recife, Brazil. It was established in 1636 by Portuguese and Spanish Sephardic Jews that had taken refuge in the Netherlands fleeing forced conversion and were joined by New Christians, who possibly helped to build the structure and were already living in the colony. It was the first synagogue erected in the Americas. The building is now a museum, including a Torah and bema as well as archeological excavations displaying various parts of the original synagogue, such as the mikveh.


Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue in Recife.

From 1636 to 1654, the synagogue functioned on the site of the houses no. 197 and 203 Rua do Bom Jesus (formerly Rua dos Judeus, lit. 'Street of the Jews'). It flourished in the mid-17th century when the Dutch briefly controlled this part of northeastern Brazil. The synagogue then served a community of approximately 1,450 Jews. It had a cantor, Josue Velosino, and a rabbi, Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, sent to Recife in 1642.

The original synagogue building survived until the early 20th century when it was torn down. The site has been confirmed by an archaeological excavation. In 2001 the decision was made to create a Jewish museum in the two-story house with two shops located on the first floor then standing on the site of the old synagogue.

Present day[edit]

The museum, designed to resemble synagogues built in the 17th and 18th centuries by Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, opened in 2001. Today, there are four synagogues in Recife. Many Jews choose to celebrate their weddings and Bnei Mitzvot celebrations in the Kahal Zur Israel because of its symbolism as a connection to their long history in this country. The synagogue is also at the center of a broader cultural renaissance. In November of every year, a Jewish festival offering dance, cinema, and food, from gefilte fish to fluden, attracts around 20,000 visitors.


  • "The Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue, Recife, Brazil". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot. Archived from the original on November 24, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  • "The Jewish Community of Recife". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  • "Synagogue in Brazilian town Recife considered oldest in the Americas". Reuters. 2008-11-12. Archived from the original on May 30, 2012. Retrieved 2008-06-29.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 8°03′41″S 34°52′17″W / 8.06131°S 34.87132°W / -8.06131; -34.87132