RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) – A young senator who is an ally of Brazil’s new pro-Israel president will be the very first Jewish person to preside over Brazil’s senate.
Davi Alcolumbre, 41, is a native of Brazil’s northernmost state of Amapa. He has been a politician for 18 years but is little known by many in mainstream Jewish circles in Latin America’s largest nation.
“We are very proud to have a great Jew and friend of Israel in the leadership of this legislative house. On behalf of the people and government of Israel, I wish you Hatzlacha and Mazal Tov,” Israeli ambassador Yossi Shelley wrote on social media, using the Hebrew words for success and good luck.
Alcolumbre’s election, held Saturday evening, was supported by Brazilian senator Flavio Bolsonaro, who is the son of President Jair Bolsonaro. He beat Renan Calheiros, who was seeking his fifth Senate presidency.
“Alcolumbre has been a traditional partner of Jewish-Zionist causes in the National Congress. Now we have for the first time in history a 100 percent Jewish president in the Senate,” Israel’s honorary consul in Rio, Osias Wurman, told JTA.
Last year, Senator Alcolumbre led the unprecedented initiative to project the words “Holocaust Never Again” in Portuguese on Brazil’s iconic National Congress buildings to mark Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“As a Jew, I try to express myself in a firm way because antisemitism lives within our society still today,” he said then. “It is always important to call the society to remember the Holocaust so that future generations will not repeat the mistakes from the past.”