Record number of Brazilian Jews moving to Israel becomes news in Brazil

Marcy Oster

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) – A record number of Brazilian Jews are flocking to Israel to benefit from the Law of Return.

The news of the number of Brazilian Jews taking advantage of the automatic Israeli citizenship was reported on the Thursday night edition of Jornal Nacional, Brazil’s leading primetime newscast aired by Globo TV.

The three-minute news footage was immediately spread via social media by most Jewish institutions including the Brazilian Israelite Confederation – the country’s umbrella Jewish organization, and most of its affiliates, as well as the Jewish Agency.

Jornal Nacional hailed the automatic Israeli citizenship given to new immigrants still at the airport and the attractive aliyah package benefits that reportedly surprised most watching the newscast in Latin America’s largest nation, where the monthly minimum wage is roughly $220 and over 58,000 people die a violent death every year.

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Brazil is facing its harshest economic crisis in a century. The news referred to Israel’s financial cash support, high-quality and nearly-free schools and health insurance, immediate retirement for the elderly, rental at the absorption centers for half the price of regular housing elsewhere, and job opportunities as major reasons to leave South America behind.

Fleeing Brazil’s severe urban violence atmosphere reportedly is another main reason for Brazilian Jews to claim Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. Sao Paulo-born journalist Fabie Spivack said she feels safe in Ashdod, where she “has never heard of violence” and “no one approaches you to rob you randomly.”

Aliyah from Brazil has more than doubled in the past four years to nearly 500 people in 2015. The average growth in aliyah for all of Latin America in the same period was just 7 percent. Though it has approximately half the Jewish population of neighboring Argentina, Brazil has sent more immigrants to Israel for two years running.

Jornal Nacional is a Brazilian Emmy-winning primetime newscast aired by Globo TV since 1969. Despite a recent decrease in ratings, it is still among the country’s most-watched daily programs with an average of over 7 million viewers per minute and some 34 percent of share, or the number of television sets in use that tuned to a given program.

Globo TV is one of the world’s largest media conglomerates. Last year, The Economist reported that “91 million people, just under half the population, tune in to Globo each day: the sort of audience that, in the United States, is to be had only once a year, and only for the one network that has won the rights that year to broadcast American football’s Super Bowl championship game.”

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