RETURN OF THE JEWS TO PORTUGAL ________________________________________________
Jews were not allowed to live in Portugal until the beginning of the 19th century when Prince Pedro of Portugal visited the British colony of Gibraltar. He was introduced to people whose names sounded Portuguese who told him that they were descendents of Jews who had escaped from Portugal after the forced conversion. When asked why they did not return he was told that Portuguese law banned Jews from living there.
Five years later on becoming King Pedro I he officially invited Jews from Gibraltar and Morocco to return to Portugal. About 80 families came though the law was not abolished until the end of the century. In 1910, with the creation of the republic religion was separated from the state and all religions were permitted. The Ashkenazim (Central European) Jews came later.
A Marrano community did survive the Inquisition. In 1920, Samuel Schwarz, a Polish engineer working in Portugal, encountered a community of Marranos in the interior of Portugal (Belmonte)who had managed to preserve some of the secret rituals, including prayers, of their ancestors. At first distrustful and denying any Jewish connection, they opened up only after Schwartz recited a Hebrew prayer, in which one of the women elders (women handed down the secret prayers that had been passed from generation to generation) when she recognized the Hebrew word, Adonai.. Today Belmonte has a new synagogue and a Jewish museum.