RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Jewish lawmaker will preside over the municipal chamber of the city that is home to Brazil’s third largest Jewish community.
Valter Nagelstein, who has been serving as Porto Alegre municipal chamber’s vice president since 2016, was elected president Monday and will assume the position on Jan. 1, reported the Brazilian news website G1.
“Walter is acknowledged by everyone as the representative of our state’s Jewish community and also at the national level,” Zalmir Chartzmann, president of the Rio Grande do Sul Jewish federation, told JTA. “He has been defending vigorously the State of Israel, Zionism and Judaism, always calling for peace and negotiations. His next step is to run for congressman in Brasilia.
Nagelstein was elected to the City Council in 2008 and is serving his third term as a councilman in Porto Alegre. He has become the new voice of the local Jewish community, succeeding the late lawmaker and activist Isaac Ainhorn, who died two years before Nagelstein took office.
During the first 10 days of November, Nagelstein led the chamber temporarily to cover the president’s absence.
Last year, the lawmaker announced he would support fundraising to build a Holocaust memorial in Porto Alegre. He also is the author of the law that made teaching the Holocaust mandatory in public schools.
“It’s not only a Zionist issue, but also of several minorities that were persecuted,” Nagelstein told the media at the time.
Porto Alegre, the second largest city in Brazil’s southern region, has nearly 10,000 Jews in a population of 1.5 million people. It is the country’s third largest Jewish community after Sao Paulo and Rio. Brazil is home to some 120,000 Jews.