Jewish burial practices remain in Brazil

T. C.


These are two photographs of an exemplar of a common brazilian cultural object, a “cruz de beira de estrada”, what can be translated as “cross next to the roadway”.

Usually, they mark the place where someone had died, in memory of the deceased person. But this specific “cruz de beira de estrada” called my attention. It is located in Rio Grande do Norte, a brazilian northeasthern state, in a road connecting the cities of Natal and Pitangui.

Rio Grande do Norte is being largely studied for the evidences of the jewish presence there.

This cross is definitely one of them: there are many pebles over the cross’s building, just like it is over jewish tombs. It is another jewish custom that have survived throughout the generations of jewish descendants. Fortunately, it wasn’t the only one I was able to find in that region, there are other.

Once, a lady who’s from Piau, another Northeasthern Brazilian State, told me that in the city she’s from people are used to put stones around tombs. She said that it is done to prevent earth around the tomb to cover it, BUT she also said that it is not done by one only person. Each person present at the funeral has to take one stone and to put it on the earth. I strongly believe this has also something to do with the jewish custom, as each person takes a stone.

I could find many other jewish burial customs in Northeasthern Brazil, but I’ll report them to you later.