By using the example of Jewish immigration to São Paulo in the 1930s and 1940s and analysing the history of the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP) under the leadership of Fritz Pinkuss, this article shows how emotions were used in different ways. Such an approach gives new insight into the complexity of migration history. The Brazilian government under Gétulio Vargas openly embraced emotional mobilisation against ‘Semites’ and ‘foreigners’, and in so doing wanted to introduce a new understanding of the nation and secure their political influence. At the same time, Pinkuss also used emotions in his communal policies to establish a new religious union, a new form of inclusion and solidarity in the Jewish community. By transferring German Jewish traditions to Brazil and emphasising their flexibility, Pinkuss not only created a new emotional bond, but also laid the ground for integration of the émigré community into Brazilian society.
Dr Björn Siegel is an academic researcher at the Institute for the History of the German Jews in Hamburg, Germany. His research projects study the role of the sea in Jewish migrations to Mandatory Palestine and the establishment of a German Jewish émigré community in Brazil after 1933. He has published widely on the history of migration, philanthropy and Jewish maritime studies.