BRAZIL

Except for large numbers of Marranos[1] in the early 16th century who subsequently left[2] there was no Jewish community in Brazil until the 19th century.† In 1822 Brazil declared its independence from Portugal and freedom of worship attracted European Jews.

The impact of immigration restrictions that began in the United States in 1921 was felt in Brazil as well as other countries.† Brazil became an important refuge for Jews and admitted 2,000 in 1924; however, by 1934 Brazil also began restricting immigration.

The World Jewish Congress (1998) reports that most Brazilian Jews are Ashkenazim and reside in the two largest cities, Sao Paulo (60,000) and Rio de Janeiro (40,000).† The total Jewish population is 130,000.

I first became aware of a family connection in Brazil in 1992.† Libby Medrich, Sam Eisenberg, and Alice Mileikowsky knew of relatives in Sao Paulo and had some memories of contact with them.† Libby Medrich recalls that her father, Herschel, referred to them as cousins.† They spell their name AJZENBERG, the Polish way.† Libby believed they were in the leather business and remembers once receiving an alligator bag as a gift.† ELIE Ajzenberg, the original immigrant to Brazil was a first cousin to Herschel.† Sam Eisenberg believes that Elieís father was a brother of Dov Berel or Elka.† Elieís son Leon, in turn, had two sons named Sergio and Marcos.† One of them is said to be a psychiatrist.


On several occasions from 1992-1996 I attempted unsuccessfully to communicate with some of the above names at addresses provided me by Libby, Sam, and Alice, but with no success.† Additionally I tried contact through a Brazilian genealogist and friends from Brazil.† They talked with someone who was unresponsive.

I have been told that my paternal grandmother, MINKA, had 2 sisters.† I know one by name, LIBA who married SHMUEL CHIAM, the brother of my paternal grandfather, AZRIEL.† LIBA and SHMUEL CHIAM settled in Hadera. (See references re 2 sisters marrying 2 brothers.)

The third sister, whose name I do not know, is reputed to have immigrated to Brazil.† That's all I know.† I do not even recall the source of this information.† If this is soÖ†††††

Did she also marry into the Ajzenberg family?

Is she related to the Ajzenberg family I am trying to communicate with in Brazil?

Is there a connection of any sort?

Did 3 BELKIN sisters marry 3 AJZENBERGS?

Stay tuned!

In the TMB (p. 170) there is a picture of a Laibel Eisenberg[3] visiting FROM Brazil in 1934.†† An account (in Yiddish p. 133, translated into English) entitled My Flowers on My Brotherís Grave is written by this Laibel Eisenberg.† He refers to himself Ďas a delegate from the Brazilian Jewish delegation to the all world congress of war and peace in Moscow in July 1962.† Is he related or just another Ajzenberg from Telechan?

 

Once I uncover some basic facts and dates I will be better able to understand how and why this branch of the family immigrated to Brazil.† Itís fascinating for me to see how the global events impact on my family.† These relatives in Brazil that Iíve never met could just as easily been my Hartford cousins or Boston neighbors.


[1] Spanish or Portuguese Jews who were converted (often under duress) to Christianity during the late Middle Ages.† They often adhered to Judaism in secret.

[2] In 1654 to go to Nieuw Amsterdam AKA New York.

[3] Not my Uncle Laibel who escaped Telechan and lived in Tashkent.

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