May i ask to Miriam (and in extesion, to Chaim) what are the diferences concearning the division of the jewish community in Brazil? I may be wrong since i'm not a american, but in USA, you have ashkenazis, sephardis and iranian identifying as jews but living separeted (again, don't wanna sound ignorant, its just lack of knowledge in general). But in Brazil, since the jewish population in SA tends to be smaller, does divisions exists or the intra-ethnicity you belong is "overlooked"?
The divisions and differences are not at all overlooked in Brazil. The Sephardi and Mizrahi communities in Brazil are hundreds of years old, while the Ashkenazi communities are very young (approx. WWII and after). There’s plenty of conflicts between our communities, and it’s very common for Brazilian Ashkenazim to reject Brazilian Sephardim and Mizrahim based on skin colour, as well as considering us inferior (regardless of skin colour).
Most of the Sephardim and Mizrahim come from the north (the Amazon) because when the second wave of Jewish immigration — the first wave started in the 1500s, with Sephardim fleeing the Iberian Peninsula, but a significant amount fled to the US and founded the first Jewish community in what was then called New Amsterdam (now New York City) when the Inquisition came after them; many stayed behind (the Brazilian Anusim) — started, most of the Jews were coming from Tetuan and Tangier (Morocco) and settling in Belém (where I was born), and then being sent to the rubber farms in the inner part of the Amazon. Eventually they started building synagogues along the way (now long gone), settling, and reached Manaus. Belém and Manaus are still the core centres for Sephardim and Mizrahim in Brazil. Although in the more recent decades many made their way to Rio de Janeiro, because of the dwindling economy in the north of the country.
And around and post-WWII two new groups started arriving: the Eastern European Jews, and other Mizrahim (who didn’t come in the previous wave, and were made refugees due to the exodus from MENA in the earlier years). These Mizrahi newcomers stayed in the southeast part of Brazil (major cities: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro), and never came to the north, but instead many joined the Sephardi and Mizrahi communities came from the north to southeast Brazil.
The Ashkenazim remain mostly in São Paulo and Rio but also in Belo Horizonte, as well as other smaller cities. There’s a surprising (to some) number of Ashkenazi haredim in Rio.
There’s not much interaction between Sephardi/Mizrahi and Ashkenazi communities.