Skip to content

Saravá Shalom

Sarava Shalom is a documentary about cross-cultural dialogue between Jewish and Afro-Brazilian mystical traditions

Sarava Shalom trailer

Sarava Shalom takes place in three unique locations across Brazil and documents rare syncretic religious ceremonies dedicated to Jewish spirits. The mysterious encounters between three charismatic practitioners and the spirits are explained by scholars of religion and history, including Professors Sergio and Mundicarmo Ferreti, Reginaldo Prandi, Francisco Moreno de Carvalho, Andrea Kogan, Alberto Groisman, Adam Klin-Oron, Sam Glauber-Zimra, Rabbi Nilton Bonder and Father Alexandre Cumino. 

So many Jews have a deep connection with Afro-Brazilian traditions, yet it is the first instance the subject is discussed in depth.

Rabbi Nilton Bonder, Rio de Janeiro

The film tells the stories of Brazilians who practice both Judaism and local mystical traditions by communicating with Jewish spirits. These encounters between present-day practitioners and their ancestors, historical or Biblical characters serve as antidotes for Jewish historical traumas.

Alex Minkin has the courage to openly address interactions between Judaism and Spiritism in Brazil. He approaches this subject, still almost a taboo, with freedom, depth and respect to the Jewish community.

Professor Jose Goldfarb, cultural director of Hebraica, São Paulo

The first part of Sarava Shalom, which presents invocations of spirits of rabbis and kabbalists was filmed in ‘Brazilian Stonehenge’ of Florianopolis, south of Brazil. 

Extended trailer for the film

The documentary continues with interviews of Jewish spiritists in Rio de Janeiro and descendants of Crypto-Jews in Ceará (north-eastern Brazil). Sarava Shalom shows mystical ceremonies at Afro-Brazilian temples dedicated to memory of Jewish ancestors. The film concludes with ritual syncretic dance in the abandoned village in the back-lands of Ceará where Jews used to flee from the Inquisition.

Rituals dedicated to memory of Jewish ancestors are organized in Afro-Brazilian temples by the descendants of Crypto-Jews.
Ushpizin (spirits of biblical patriarchs, traditionally received as Sukkot guests) are welcomed at Umbanda temple in Ceará, Northern Brazil.
Sarava Shalom documents little known inter-religious dialogue and contributes to the fight against religious intolerance.

As Jews integrated into the mainstream of Brazilian society during the 20th century, they transformed from spirits that visit the temples to people that visit, becoming regulars of Afro-Brazilian rituals.

Dr. Michel Gherman, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Alex Minkin is a Brooklyn-based visual anthropologist (Yeshiva University/Federal University of Sergipe), focusing his research on the intersections between Jewish and Brazilian cultures. In his articles, lectures, and the documentary Urban Orishas (2022), he presents the stories of spiritual practitioners in a format that reflects the mystery of these experiences and their groundedness in history and myth. Alex Minkin is the founder of Ticún Brasil, which offers cultural and volunteer opportunities for travelers to Brazil, as well as cultural activities in New York.

Alex Minkin and Andrea Kogan at Jewish Spiritism event in Hebraica, Sao Paulo (2019)

concept | alex minkin
music | bia schneider, vani levi
video | carlos lenine, alex minkin, rafael coelho, felipe alves, igor cabral, nicholas oliveira, vincent moon

advisors | andrea kogan, luize valente
special thanks | marília carbonari, IMMA (

support | IBI – Instituto Brasil-Israel, Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil (Study Group of Kabbalah and its Cultural Reverberations)

The trailers are filmed at IMMA and other locations in Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian culture is highly therapeutic for the Jews, as it is an excellent antidote for their historical traumas.

Professor Bernardo Sorj, Rio de Janeiro

Contact us: Alex

%d bloggers like this: