During the past year the economic position of the Jews of Brazil, on the whole not unfavorable, improved. The generally peaceful tenor of the country was reflected in the life of the Jewish community.
Most Jews here earn their living by peddling, or in small business and factories, the products of which are usually distributed by peddlars.
As a result of this improvement in the economic life of local Jewry during this after-revolution year, the number of new Jewish immigrants, especially from Germany, increased noticeably. In the immigration process, large parts of the population of Polish, Bessarabian, Lithuanian and Russian towns were often transplanted.
During the second half of the year, however, immigration rulings became more involved and more stringent, so that fewer persons entered the country. The present regulation is that each immigrant comes in under a specific quota and must show about $200 for himself and for each of his dependents. This makes it very difficult for a man who comes here intending to earn his own living from the outset, for his money is held by the authorities for three months, at the end of which time he must show evidence of independence and good behavior. For these reasons, most immigrants have been “sent for” by members of their family or by friends who are in a position to help them in the beginning.
The changes in the political status of the country and the adoption of a constitution were also mirrored in the political life of the Jewish population. Many who have been living here for a number of years became citizens and entered the political circles of the country and of the various estados (states). This political prominence will undoubtedly increase during the coming elections, and in time, perhaps, the Jewish population of the country will become a true political force.
On the cultural front, too, the situation is promising. Yiddish books, most of which are brought in from Europe and the United States, are widely read, and the Yiddish newspapers are increasing the number of their pages and the frequency of publication.
The theatre, too, has grown here during the year. Once only a stopping-off place for road companies on their way to the Argentine, Brazil is today, by virtue of a growing public interested in the better theatre, a country which Yiddish theatre troupes will make it a point to visit for its own sake.
The economic improvement was also reflected in the success of the various drive undertaken by Brazilian Jewry for the Jews of other countries, principally Germany. Both the boycott of German products and the Jewish National Fund drive for the German refugees, as well as a number of other campaigns, were well supported.
Provided the country continues under the present normal state, the outlook for next year is hopeful. With still further improvement of the economic situation, the problems of many Jewish residents and of those planning to come here, will be solved.