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First Jewish Member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters

Amoldo Niskier, a 48-year-old teacher and journalist, this week took his seat in the Brazilian Academy of Letters, the first Jew ever to achieve this prestigious cultural position, the World Jewish Congress reported today.

According to the Latin American branch of the WJC, the solemn investitute ceremony was presided over by Esther de Figuereido Ferraz, the Minister of Education, Leonel Brizola, the Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and the well-known Brazilian writer, Adonias Filho, who presented Niskier with his ceremonial collar.

Rachel Queroz, the Academy member who had sponsored Niskier’s membership, described him in her address of welcome as “the Carioca (resident of Rio), the Brazilian, the Jew,” and noted that he was “the first Jew to enter the Academy.”

In his speech, Niskier remarked that he occupies seat No. 18 in the Academy — a number which in Hebrew stands for life — and declared that he hoped that this honor would allow him to contribute more widely to the fields of education, culture, and science.

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