Built in 1928, Tifereth Israel Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Rio de Janeiro and was for several decades the center of Jewish life in Nilopolis, a suburban enclave whose Jewish community grew significantly during World War II. The synagogue hosted Brazil’s first Yiddish theater, and became a cultural venue hosting lectures relevant to political matters of the era.
In the 1950s Nilopolis went into decline as its residents moved to wealthier areas in the region. As a result of its dwindling congregation, the synagogue was forced to close in 1984. In 2002, it was designated a protected site, and the National Museum and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro began planning the restoration of the synagogue.
How We Helped
WMF supported necessary structural stabilization work. The roof was repaired and roof tiles replaced to assure the building was protected from the elements, building materials were treated to protect against insect infestation, and a new ceiling was erected to protect the historic interior finishes. Work supported by WMF concluded in 2004.
Why It Matters
As the oldest synagogue in Brazil, Tifereth Israel is a significant emblem of Brazil’s Jewish heritage. It serves as a living monument to the Jewish refugees who moved to Nilopolis from Eastern Europe during the first half of the twentieth century, and, when restored, will serve the remaining Jewish population as a synagogue once again as well as a community center.