Center Opens In Rio De Janeiro
success of Lubavitch in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was crowned by the
opening of the city’s largest Jewish Center. The newly built Lubavitch
Center is a seven-floor structure a block away from Leblon Beach, the
most exclusive area in the city. This is a remarkable achievement, one
the community did not even dare dream of a few years ago.
Jewish Center includes two synagogues; a main synagogue with 400 seats,
to be used for Shabbos and Yomim Tovim, and the other for weekdays.
There are separate modern mikvos for men, women, and utensils.
Plans to add a swimming pool are in the making, as well as a
inaugural ceremony this Sunday was graced with the presence of
politicians, the vice mayor, ministers of the government, and Jewish
personalities. Rabbis and leaders of other Jewish communities came to
the event honoring the sponsors of the luxurious project.
opening of the Jewish Center symbolizes a new era in the city known for
its carnivals, not for its Judaism. The building is a milestone in the
history of Jewish life in Rio de Janeiro, and it is the first synagogue
and Jewish Center located in the area where wealthy Jews live.
center was designed to meet all of the needs of the community. To that
end, it includes a large ballroom with a kosher kitchen for celebrations
such as weddings and bar mitzvos, a youth center for videos,
lectures, and conferences, and a Talmud Torah pre-school.
modern style of the Jewish Center, with its brown marble facade and wood
and white stone interior, is an invitation for the young generation to
come and participate. In a city where most people prefer to go to the
beach Saturday morning, it has to be attractive for the carioca (person
living in or born in Rio) to want to change his habit and to come to the
are 30,000 Jews in Rio, and some synagogues in the old neighborhoods
don’t even have a minyan for Shabbos. In recent years, the
trend has been movement away from the less well-to-do neighborhoods to
the wealthy areas near the beach — and the Jews did not bring the
synagogues with them.
Rabbi Yehoshua and Chanie Goldmand were sent to Rio by the Lubavitcher
Rebbe in 1987. In the past 10 years, the Lubavitch activities took place
in a two-floor house in Leblon, with 200 people gathering on Shabbos
evening. The house was getting too small, but there was no place they
could move to. Two years ago, land was donated to Lubavitch by Mayor
Cesar Maia, and Rabbi Goldman started to dream about opening a
comprehensive center that would satisfy the needs of the Jews in every
is in an economic slump. Nevertheless, the center was built from scratch
by Technion Engenharia with money collected from the local community. In
gratitude for the expensive land grant by the mayor, the Jewish
community built a public library in the favela (slum).
most of the participants in the activities of the center are not yet
religious, people come to classes, prayers, Shabbatons, and parties,
they give money for charity and send their children to pre-school. This
success is all in the merit of the work done by five couples, shluchim
of the Rebbe, who make Beit Lubavitch a place with a warm and familiar
atmosphere. It is a house with a soul, where everyone feels comfortable
to visit and be personally greeted by the rabbi and his wife.
the first time in his life, the carioca will have the opportunity to
enter a synagogue built by this generation, not by “the old
generation,” with all of its unfortunate and erroneous connotations.
Father and sons are participating in the construction and will keep
coming for the services. For all the various activities, the young
people, as well as the children, will be willing to come and learn and
singles can meet, new families will be created, and will be invited to
return for activities again and again. A place like this will help the
growth of Jewish life in Rio and fight assimilation. Classes will be
held on a variety of topics, teaching about the depth of Judaism, and
many will find it in their hearts to take their first steps towards teshuva.
now on, we will be hearing more about Judaism in Rio. Any Jewish tourist
coming to the city of the carnival should know that we now also have a
lively Jewish Center.