RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Jewish supporters paid tribute to a major Brazilian soccer club for supporting Brazil’s fight against the Nazis during World War II.
Idish-Flu, a group of Jewish supporters of the Fluminense Football Club, led the celebration on Sunday at the club headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, during which they lit the candles of a seven-foot tall menorah painted in the team’s colours of red, green and white, and presented the club’s president with an inscribed silver plate.
In 1942, Fluminense raised funds from its members to buy a single-engine airplane to be donated to the Brazilian Air Force. In addition, the club promoted a nursing course and offered its modern shooting range for the Brazilian military to practice before heading to the battlefield in Italy.
“We wish to send our good vibes to our beloved club in recognition of its help in the fight against the Nazis. It is timely to do so now during Chanukah, a time when we recall divine miracles. After all, Fluminense is also our religion,” said Michel Ghelman, an Idish-Flu member.
“I am very glad to see that the Jewish community, to which so many of our supporters belong, has decided to value the fact that Fluminense supported Brazil when it chose to fight on the Allies’ side against the Axis. This is part of our glorious past that must be remembered and honoured,” said the club’s president, Peter Siemsen.
Fluminense supporters are estimated at 3.6 million, mostly from the upper classes of Rio de Janeiro, including a large number of Jews. The team was founded in 1902. It plays in the Manoel Schwartz Stadium, named after a former team president.