Searching in Brazil

Claudio Terto

I’ve been searching and studying about judaism in Brazil, specially what some call crypto-judaismo, marranos, conversos.

I was born in the northeast of Brazil (I live in Rio de Janeiro now) and I identified many habits, that you described in the article about marranos in Brazil, in my family both on my father and mother. Since child I always remembered my father telling me not to kneel in the church among other things u described. His family is from Pernambuco. But during all this time many brazilian marranos don’t even know of their origin and are not interested to know more about it, unfortunately. But there are some, or a few of them like me that had interest in my origins, and only recently I tried to approach the “real” Jews and I learned of all the process to return (teshuva) and conversion etc etc. I agree that those who want to became Jews they must go through a conversion process so they can learn more and correctly with no distortion about Judaism. I was criticized and treated with sarcasm by a rabbi when I explained that I wanted to convert to Judaism. He said my wife and my daughter had to convert too. But that was a personal option from me that I could not impose on my wife. I understanded his idea, but apart from that I was refused to even attend speaches or classes — even as a listener (paying for the classes) and I was told that those were for Jews only, no gentiles. This was in a Beit Lubavitch center! I could not believe what I was told, specially after reading a book of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav.

I study Hebrew, Cabala, read the Torah, pray using the Sidur and most of all I believe in the unicity of G’d. I study everyday, using internet, books, magazines that I get from a Jew (Morrocans that emigrated to Amazon) who is my best friend. I do all that alone most of the times, and I have to keep it to myself, because nobody understand how can I consider myself a Jew when I’m not a Jew according to other Jews. It’s very complicated. I don’t worry. I continue my life easily. I can only thank G’d for the wonderfull life I live and He is the one I have to really love and be concerned about. What I wanted to say is that after reading Searching for Brazilian Marranos — By Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn with Robert H. Lande, I felt like a rock had been taken out of my back. It’s good to know that other Jews don’t discriminate the marranos, after all these 500 years of secrets and ignorance. I wish one day this situation would change and the “pure” Jews in Brazil have a more open mind towards what they consider “the fake” Jews. Maybe only when the Mashiach returns… who know? It was very, very important to find your site. Really.

Thank you very much!