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Summary

Pardons by the Portuguese Government

Terminology


Early History

1492 Admission of Jews Expelled From Spain


Forced  Baptism of Jews to Christianity


Proposed Marrige To  Spanish Heiress

The Lisbon Massacre of 1506

Hiding from the

Inquisition

Unification of Portugal and Spain
1580-1640


Marranos in Europe


The Myth of Marrano Names

The Marquis of Pombal

First Communities in Portugal Since the 19th Century

Portugal and the Fascists

 
Salazar


Captain Barros Basto


Portugal and the Nazis


Portugal Today

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AZORES


islands


In 1818, North African Jews whose ancestors had been expelled from Spain came to the Azores. This was duty free and allowed them to import and resell to local businesses.  In 1820, the Portuguese liberal revolution led to religious diversity.

Today, Portugal’s oldest post Inquisition synagogue the Sahar Hassamain Synagogue, which was built around 1820 and consecrated in 1836. Restoration was completed in 2015.


MADEIRA


The community started after the expulsion from Spain in 1492.  For most of this time it had a vibrant community, though it now no longer exists


BELMONTE


north


Belmonte, a town of about 7,500, is less than 30 miles from the Spanish frontier.  A foundation stone dated 1297 was discovered of a synagogue showing there has been a Jewish community with a long history.

It was ‘discovered’ in 1917 by Samuel Schwartz a Galician mining engineer.  Thinking they were the only remaining Jews they only believed Schwarz was a Jew when he recited the Shema Yisrael and they recognized the name "Adonay".

They had maintained their Jewish identity for over four hundred years by marrying mainly among themselves and adhering to the belief in a single personal Deity who would redeem his people at the end of days. They practiced some Jewish observances, the Sabbath and some holidays. They often lit candles on Friday night where they could not be seen from the outside and observed Passover and Yom Kippur a day or two before or after the Jewish calendar date to confuse agents of the Inquisition.

Today they have a synagogue, a Jewish Museum. their own internet radio station and welcome many visitors.  See also Braganza


BRAGANZA


north


Bragança welcomed about 3,000 people on their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Since then they have played a major role in local economic and social growth  As a result of national action they became New Christians.   Many were later arrested by the Inquisition.  The revival of the Jewish community started in 1925.

The Museum of Sephardic culture in Bragança  will open next summer with interactive displays of Sephardic life In the Braganza region.  

See also Carcao.below


CARCAO


north


A parish in the Vimioso municipality in the district of Bragança, Northern Portugal. The Carção inhabitants are linked to trade since ancient times. Many are descendants of Jews who took refuge in the fifteenth century in border villages. The importance of this Jewish heritage is revealed in the Carção Parish Council coat of arms which has a mezuzah and a menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum an is one of the oldest Jewish symbols.  ‘The Massacre of a Village’ describes what the Inquisition did  to the inhabutants



FARO


south


A vibrant community where chagim (festivals) are celebrated with tea parties or dinners. When possible an erev (evening) Shabbat service is arranged. Each year the highlight is the communal Passover Seder (evening meal) which attracts about 60 people.

There is a museum and Jewish cemetery.

They have a DVD with the story of Jews in Portugal and the 1992 restoration of the Faro Jewish Cemetery (1838-1932) for sale on its website


LISBON


centre


Capital of Portugal.  It has the largest Jewish community in the country and is the residence of the chief rabbi (‘arraby mor’).

In 1492  over 100,000 of the Jews expelled by Spain came to Portugal

In 1497 Portuguese Jews were forcibly baptised so the King could tell the King of Spain there were no Jews in the country (see Portugal).  In 1506 there was a massacre in the centre of of Lisbon.

Decrees in 1773 and 1774 were issued under the influence of the Marquis de Pombal, deprived the Inquisition of their tyrannical and arbitrary powers and gave a new impulse to Jewish settlement in Lisbon. A considerable number lived in Lisbon by the end of the eighteenth century.  The synagogue, called "Sha'ar ha-Shamayim," was founded in 1813 by R. Abraham Dabella though the Jews had toleration but no legal status.   In 1825 there were about 500 Jews, mostly in brokerage and foreign trade.  They had three private synagogues. Judaism was recognised in 1868 when the community was authorised to use ground they owned for burial. In 1892, the government sanctioned the constitution of the charitable society Gemilut asadim.

In 1890 a community organisation was created when the Sephardim and Ashkenazim formed one congregation.

There are about 400 Jews in a population of 357,000 with two synagogues and a virtual museum which aims to be a vital component in the cultural life of Lisbon..



FUNDAO


north


In 1492, after they were expelled  from Spain, most Jews settled near the border. Fundão was an important commercial and industrial centre. Later, the Portuguese Inquisition arrived and many were tortured, executed and/or had their possessions seized.

November 22, 1580 saw the only known public resistance against the Inquisition.

In the late 18th century the Prime-Minister of Portugal, the Marquis of Pombal, abolished the legal restraints on New Christians when compared to Old-Christians.

The wool industry became depressed after being sacked during the (defeated) Napoleonic French invasion of Portugal and the subsequent civil war.

Today, it is an important local centre of industry and services.



GUARDA


north


The name Guarda refers to its ‘guarding role’ as it is the highest town in Portugal at over 1000 metres above sea level.  Near Belmonte it is close to the Spanish border in a region dotted with fortifications and hilltop villages.  Its 12th century defence walls built by Sancho I can still be seen.

One house belonged to the Jewish shoemaker Barbadão (literally ‘heavily bearded’). Folklore claims  this  was  a nickname  from his decision never to shave again after his daughter Inês bore Sancho an illegitimate son, Alfonso.  Later he became the Duque de Bragança whose descendents ruled Portugal.



PORTO


north


Porto    In the 1920’s Captain Barros Basto started his campaign to return New Christians (Christian converts) to Judaism. In the 1930’s he was accused of a crime he did not commit and was cashiered from the army.  This was overturned by the National Assembly.  He is now known as ‘The Dreyfus of Portugal’. At its peak, he may have had 10,000 possible adherents. He founded a magazine called Halapid to help them learn about the religion of their ancestors.

The Mekor Haim synagogue he founded is also known as the ‘Catedral Judaica do norte de Portugal’, a majestic art deco three-story building built between 1929 –1938.


TOMAR


central


Has the oldest existing synagogue in Portugal.  Also has the Abraham Zacuto Luso – Museo Hebraico.  He was a Jew who became court astronomer in Portugal after fleeing Spain in 1492. His astronomical tables were used by Columbus on his voyages of discovery.


TRANCOSO


north


Trancoso   A tiny village in northern Portugal that was once the home to a large flourishing Jewish community.  This ended  with the arrival of the Inquisition.

In 2012 it honored its Jewish heritage with the establishment of the ‘Isaac Cardoso Center for Jewish Interpretation’ and a new synagogue called Beit Mayim Hayim – ‘The House of Living Waters.’


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