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Contemporary Issues


Brazil suffers from many of the same social issues facing much of the developing world: inequality, gender discrimination, crime, lack of adequate health care, corruption, and poor public education. Additionally, due to its history, Brazil must also contend with the role that race and racism plays in its socio-economic inequality. 

There were a few years of great hope in Brazil during the government of Luis Inacio Lula de Silva, better known simply as Lula. He grew up extremely poor, worked as a shoeshiner as a child, and had little formal education. Lula achieved prominence as a union leader and one of the founding members of the Workers Party (PT). In 2002, he won the presidential election, which seemed to symbolize a move away from the conservative politics that had governed Brazil since the 1964 coup. Lula was the first leader to really make helping the poor his priority.

Indeed, Lula’s eight years in office were remarkably successful and he was popular both in Brazil and abroad. He instituted programs such as Bolsa Familia and Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) that directly supported the poorest Brazilians. The former initiative gave money directly to impoverished children who went to school, thereby eliminating the need for them to work (and forego school). 

The Brazilian economy boomed under Lula’s leadership and during the worldwide economic crisis of 2008 Brazil seemed to be the only major economy to remain unscathed.

His successor, Dilma Roussef, also of the PT, did not achieve such success. Brazil’s first female president found herself embroiled in major corruption scandals involving money laundering and Brazil’s largest oil company, Petrobras. The economic conditions plummeted, Brazilians lost confidence in their government and economic elite, and eventually Dilma was impeached and removed from office, Lula was found guilty of corruption and imprisoned, and a right-wing nationalist leader who openly admired the military dictatorship, Jair Bolsonaro, was elected president.



Guiding Questions:

  • In what ways was Jewish life diverse before the Holocaust?

  • How long had some Jewish communities lived in Europe?

  • What is one visual image from the video that depicts Jewish life before the Holocaust? Explain.



Source: OER World History Project

Guiding Questions:

  • Why do observant Jews celebrate Shabbat?

  • What do observant Jews "set aside" on Shabbat?

  • How do Jews make Shabbat a special or "sacred" time?

  • What is one visual image from the video that depicts Shabbat? 



Length: 9:17


Recommended viewing times: entire video

Guiding Questions:

  • What is the holiest text of Judaism?

  • Is Judaism a monotheistic or polytheistic religion?

  • How do Jews view the idea of interpreting sacred texts?

  • What is one visual image from the video that depicts Judaism? 

Primary Source: NYTimes article from 1919


A map that shows the layout of Jewish populations in Europe in 1933.

Guiding Questions:

  • Which three countries had the greatest number of Jews in 1933?

  • Were there more Jews in Germany or Eastern Europe?

  • In 1492, Portugal and Spain expelled all the Jews. How is that reflected in this 1933 map? 

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