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Kosher Feijoada and Other Paradoxes of Jewish Life in São Paulo

Misha Klein

Publication Year: 2012

Being Jewish in Brazil--the world's largest Catholic country--is fraught with paradoxes, and living in São Paulo only amplifies these vivid contradictions. The metropolis is home to Jews from over 60 countries of origin, and to the Hebraica, the world’s largest Jewish athletic and social club.

Jewish identity is rooted in layered experiences of historical and contemporary dispersal and border crossings. Brazil is famously tolerant of difference but less understanding of longings for elsewhere. Celebrating both Carnival and the High Holidays is but one example of how Jews in São Paulo hold themselves together as a community in the face of the forces of assimilation.

Misha Klein’s fascinating ethnography reveals the complex intertwining of Jewish and Brazilian life and identity.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiii

This book represents my thoughts on identity for a heterogeneous group in a particular place and what that says about other transnational ethnic groups with other histories in other locales. In the process of thinking about these themes, I have also reflected on my own transnational networks. ...

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1. Departures

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pp. 1-34

I have often been met with surprise or even utter astonishment upon telling people that I conduct research on Jews in Brazil. Though hardly a small population when compared with the tiny Jewish communities that are scattered about the globe, it seems as if the idea of Jews in Brazil—a country known for ...

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2. Braided Lives

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pp. 35-68

A great many strands compose Jewish community in Brazil, and in São Paulo in particular. The most obvious strands are those derived from the dozens of different countries of origin and their concomitant cultural distinctions in language and practice. The distinctions of generation marked by distance from immigration ...

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3. Kosher Feijoada

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pp. 69-98

Drawing on its collective pasts, the Jewish community constitutes itself in ways that are particularly Brazilian. As James Holston says, “The past always leaks through the present” (2008:34). Jewish Brazilian identities are not made in the past but are continually in process, responding to the conditions offered ...

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4. The High Cost of Jewish Living

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pp. 99-131

Although a majority of Jews in Brazil arrived in the first half of the twentieth century as impoverished immigrants and refugees, within a generation most enjoyed economic and occupational success that located them in “the elite 5%” of Brazilian society (Rattner 1987:199). Economically, Jewish Brazilians of all subethnic groups ...

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5. Inscribing Jews into the Nation

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pp. 132-162

Indicators of Jewish integration into Brazilian society sometimes take surprising forms. For example, a century ago, when most Jews in Brazil were Sephardim and lived in the north of the country along the Amazon, they struggled to establish Jewish institutions. In 1908, Rabbi Shalom Emanuel Muyal immigrated ...

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6. Doubly Insecure

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pp. 163-190

What is unique about Jewish Brazilians is their Brazilianness. The ideologies that are central to Brazilian national identity have created a space for Jews to be able to become fully incorporated, participating citizens. More significantly, these same ideologies are reproduced within the paulistano Jewish community, ...

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7. Cosmopolitans at Home

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pp. 191-208

The theme of contradictions permeates anthropological studies of Brazil. Scholars seek to account for a democratic nation that so clearly excludes a majority of its citizens from the full rights of citizenship (i.e., Holston 2008). Some wonder at the continual clash of traditional and modern institutional forms (Hess and DaMatta 1995). ...


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pp. 209-232


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pp. 233-246


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pp. 247-256

About the Author, Further Reading

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813043548
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813039879
Print-ISBN-10: 0813039878

Page Count: 270
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 794663754
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Kosher Feijoada and Other Paradoxes of Jewish Life in São Paulo

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Brazil -- São Paulo -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Brazil -- São Paulo -- History -- 21st century.
  • São Paulo (Brazil) -- Ethnic relations.
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