The Jews of the Amazon

In the 19th century, the rubber boom in South America brought about a social and economic transformation of the Amazon region. Thousand of immigrants from the other side of the Atlantic, including numerous young Moroccan Jews, made their way to South America searching for better opportunities.

Initially, they didn’t intend to stay, but many of them eventually married local women and settled in the area. Nonetheless, the young Moroccans Jews instilled their descendants with a strong sense of Jewish identity.

Many of their descendants continue to bear typically Moroccan Jewish family names such as Cohen, Ben-Zaken or Ben-Shimon, while their external appearance is remarkably local.

In recent years, a growing number of these Jews of the Amazon have begun to reconnect with their heritage, leading several hundred to make aliyah.

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