CARÇÃO COAT OF ARMS


CARÇÃO IN THE 1960s

CARÇÃO, TRÂS-OS-MONTES, PORTUGAL, 2007
The Massacre of a Village

The Massacre of a Village

Antonio J. Andrade, M. Fernanda Guimarães* Translated by mlopesazevedo@yahoo.com

During the 1700s, the village of Carção (pronounced Karssaow, in the province of Trâs-os-Montes (Behind the Mounts), northern Portugal)* had 150 households according to information collected by Carvalho da Costa, there being some who would reduce it to 120, implying that it had between 500 and 600 inhabitants.
Observe now reader, that in only the 10 years between 1691 and 1701, the Inquisition ordered the arrest of 130 New Christians there, accused of being Jews. It should be noted that all these prisoners, except for some rare cases, were working people, of the adult classes constitutive of the active population. It should also be noted that, in general, the prisons and procedures of the Holy Office were morose and involved the sequestration of the assets of the prisoners and consequently the ruination of their houses, the wasting of their farms, and the end of business contacts and networks, which very often took generations to build. Further, many people fearing being imprisoned, would abandon the village and flee abroad. Just like a good portion of those who were subjected to the Inquisition, after getting out of prison, they also looked to emigrate, seeing themselves as tarnished and humiliated, since, at any moment, there were those who reminded them of the ignominious situation of being a Jew.
Worst, meanwhile, the true tragedies occurred in the dungeons of the Inquisition. There were many who went mad there, many who became maimed and it was not rare for others to die there. Everyone, but everyone was touched, physically and psychologically. And the height of the tragedy was reached with the delivery of the prisoners to the civil authority to be “relaxed”, which is the same as saying, condemned to death by fire.
Of all this, we have clamorous examples in Carção: persons who were maimed, persons that went mad there, persons that died there, persons who chose to commit suicide…there were at least 18 who were condemned to die by fire. It seems that during those ten years, even all the forces of hell conjured against the New Christian community of Carção, which suffered a true massacre, a terrible holocaust. It is not only surprising how the community survived, but how there were people who resisted, and how 40 years later, the following generation, the sons and grandsons of these victims knew how to keep alive the flame of Marranism and demonstrate unequivocal resistance to the methods of the holy Office.
During the years of this massacre, there were moments that are important to record and correspond to public “auto de fés” in which New Christians from Carção were sentenced. Let us see:

1. As noted above, there were great waves of arrests in the years 1691-93, and all the prisoners were delivered to Coimbra. Notwithstanding, some of them were later remitted to the Inquisition in Lisbon, perhaps to deal with less common accusations. Seven such prisoners were transferred and ended up in the auto-de-fé on 16-5-1694, at the church of St. Domingo’s convent.

2. Auto-de-fé of 17-10-1694, held at the St. Miguel Square in Coimbra, the Jesuit priest Pires de Almeida preaching, 56 persons appearing, 25 of which were from Carção. Two men were condemned to the fire and one who was similarly burned, but in effigy, as he had fled to Castile and it had not been possible to capture him. He was from Carçaõ-João de Oliveira was his name, married to Catarina Pires or Lopes who was imprisoned in Coimbra from 1691 to 1694.

3. Auto-de-fé of 25-11-1696 also held at St. Miguel Square, 88 people appearing, and 43 from Carção. Fourteen were burned alive, 12 from Carção. Five were burned in effigy, one from Carçaõ. We record here the names of those victims from Carção:

* Atanásio Rodrigues, 22 years old, son of Francisco Rodrigues, nicknamed the sergeant, and Maria Lopes, married with Clara de Oliveira, who appeared in the same auto, condemned to 7 years exile in Angola.

* António Rodrigues, 45 years old, shoemaker, brother of the previous, married to Helena Rodrigues.

* Helena Rodrigues, above cited, daughter of Domingos Rodrigues and Guiomar Álvares.

* Domingos Luís, 27 years old, single, tanner, son of Gaspar Luís and Maria Dias.

* Isabel Luís, 29 years old, sister of the previous, married with Gaspar Rodrigues.

* Maria Fernandes, 31 years old, daughter of Belchior Fernandes and Violante Lopes, married to Miguel Lopes of Leão, the “Courtier” by nickname.

* Matias Fernandes, 25 years old, single, brother of the previous.

* Manuel Lopes de Leão, 36 years old, son of Francisco Lopes of Leão (burned in 1667) and of Catarina Lopes, tanner, married to Catarina Lopes.

* Maria Lopes de Leão, 54 years old , sister of the previous, married to Domingos Fernandes.

* Domingos de Oliveira, barber and dealer, 52 years old, son of Baltasar de Oliveira and Maria Lopes, married a second time with Inês Lopes.

* Francisca Lopes, 56 years old, daughter of Belchior Lopes and Ana Rodrigues, married to Luís Lopes.

* Isabel Gonçalves, 56 years old, married to Estêvão Pires, shoemaker, native of Zamora and resident in Carção.

* Manuel Henriques, the “Sendineiro” (i.e. from the nearby village of Sendin), shoemaker, married to Maria Lopes. Absent, burned in effigy.

4. Auto-de-fé of 14-6-1699, also at St. Miguel’s Square, friar Domingos Barata preacher, 88 persons appearing, 28 from Carção. Six were burned at the stake and one in effigy.

The following from Carção were condemned to the fire:

* Jorge de Oliveira, 46 years old, rent collector, widower of Maria Lopes Henriques, brother of Domingos de Oliveira, as noted above.

* Catarina Lopes, nicknamed the “worm” (i.e. silkworm), 39 years old, daughter of António Lopes, the “worm”, and of Maria Lopes, married to Miguel Luís.

∑ Bernardo Rodrigues, storekeeper, single, brother of António and Atanásio Rodrigues, who were relaxed in 1694. Bernardo had been imprisoned on 3.7.1693 and died in jail on 20.3.1695. His bones were disinterred to be burned in the fires of the auto.

5. Auto-de-fé of 18-12-1701, also at S. Miguel Square, friar Francisco Ribeiro preacher, 90 persons appearing, and two condemned to the fire. From Carção there were16 persons sentenced.

Having arrived thus far, it is up to the readers to make the necessary conclusions and find the most appropriate words for this process which we consider to be a true holocaust of a village. Needless to say, initially, the accusations that support all the cases, are basically the same: respecting the Sabbath, fasting on Kippur, participating in funeral rites…Later, alongside the interrogations, the denunciations were particularized and the cases developed. Logically, all prisoners eventually confessed to their guilt and denounced their companions. These, for their part, did the same, for they were promised mercy and forgiveness in exchange for their confessions and acts of repentance.

A new wave of arrests swept Carção in the middle of the 18th century, as has been published in previous work of the authors. This time the New Christians were accused of taking “sambenitos” from the church of their relatives burned in the autos-de-fé 30 some odd years before. (A sambenito was a sleeveless frock with a painted portrait of the condemned worn on the way to the fire. It was removed just before the person was burned and then hung in the victim’s parish church as a deterrent to others.)*
After that things calmed down, the New Christian community of Carção, the ones that survived the “massacre”, started to feel the dawn of a religious liberty with the end of the Inquisition that occurred some years later.

Antonio J. Andrade is a teacher and journalist tending his fields in Trâs-os-Montes, Portugal.

M. Fernanda Guimarães is an independent researcher at Torre de Tombo, Portugal (national Inquisition archives), and affiliated with Albert Benveniste Chair of Sephardic Studies at the University of Lisbon.

* Translator’s notes
Portuguese version of this article at http://almocreve.blogs.sapo.pt/
PETITION RE ANTI-JUDAIC MASSACRE OF LISBON OF 1506

“To: The mayor of Lisbon

The proposal to construct a memorial to the victims of the Jewish massacre of Lisbon in 1506, slated for discussion and approval by the municipal Council of Lisbon on the 31st of October, 2007, was adjourned without a return date and is at risk of being forgotten or subverted in its civic sense.
In the name of the memory of the victims of the horrendous crime committed in Lisbon on the 19th, 20th, and 21st of April 1506, which victimized thousands of New Christians forcibly baptized by King D. Manuel I in 1497, the citizen signatories to this petition demand from his Worship, the Mayor of Lisbon, to maintain and execute the proposal as it was conceived and on the symbolic date of April 19, 2008.”

Translated from Portuguese from the petition created by Dr. Jorge Martins, author of “Portugal e os Judeus” (The Jews of Portugal), 2006, in 3 volumes (in Portuguese).

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION. GO TO
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/samusque/

Proposal n. º 423/2007
(Translation by mlopesazevedo)

(Preamble numbered 1 to 3 is at the end of this page)

4. In the year of 1506, the city of Lisbon was the stage for the most dramatic and bloody anti-Judaic episode of all those that are known in our territory:

5. During three days, 19th, 20th and the 21st of April, these events, that started next to St. Domenic's Convent (presently St. Domenic's square), resulted in about two thousand Lisbonites, for mere suspicion of professing Judaism, being barbarously assassinated and burned in two enormous fires in Rossio and Ribeira.

6. Evoking this heinous crime which constituted the massacre of 1506, inscribed in the politics of intolerance, that, according to Antero de Quental, contributed to the decadence of the Peninsular people, to posthumously do justice to all the victims of intolerance and to constitute an unequivocal affirmation of a cosmopolitan, multiethnic and multicultural Lisbon.

The councillors of the Socialist Party, councillor Helena Rosetta, and councillor Jose Sa Fernandes, pursuant to paragraph no. 7 of article 64 of Statute 169/99 of the 18th of September, ratified by Statute 5-A/2002 of the 11th of January, have the honour of proposing to the City Council of Lisbon, at its meeting of the 31st of October 2007, (that) it resolve:

1. To install in the city of Lisbon a Memorial to the Victims of Intolerance, evocative of the Jewish massacre of Lisbon of 1506 and all victims who suffered discrimination and personal villainy because of their origin, conviction or ideas.

a. The Memorial to be located in the St. Dominic's square, should have as a central element an olive tree of great bearing and contemplate an engraved stone evocative of the Jewish massacre of Lisbon of 1506, as well as an urbanistic setting of the surrounding area, its conception, execution and installation to be carried out by municipal services.

b. The inauguration of the memorial will be on the 19th day of April 2008, in a ceremony promoted by the City Council of Lisbon, to which will be invited all ethnic and religious communities of the city.

The Councillors

(PREAMBLE)
1. November 16 next is International day of Tolerance, universally understood, in terms of the declaration of the principles of tolerance adopted by UNESCO, not with concession, condescendence or indulgence, but rather with an attitude of respect and mutual recognition, animated by the recognition of the universal rights of the human being and of fundamental liberties;

2. International Day of Tolerance is a universal call to one of the greatest virtues of humanity, substantiated in the active pledge and in the comprehension of the richness and diversity of humanity,

3. The pedagogy of combating racism, discrimination, xenophobia and all analogous forms of intolerance, constitutes a fundamental axis of democracy and of the peaceful coexistence amongst peoples:

IF YOU WISH TO EMAIL THE MAYOR OF LISBON AND THE SUPPORTING COUNCILORS see below for the email addresses.

Memorial-Lisbon Massacre 1506-Ralf Wokan

Sehr geehrter Herr Stadtdirektor Costa,

der Stadtverwaltung liegt ordnungsgemäß ein Antrag (proposta 423/2007) zur Abstimmung vor.
Inhalt dieses Antrags ist die Errichtung eines Monuments zum Gedenken des Massakers an jüdischen Mitmenschen im Jahr 1506.
Dieser Antrag ist dem Stadtparlament am 31.10.2007 zur Entscheidung vorgelegt worden.
Bis heute -nach meinem Wissensstand- ist über den Antrag nicht entschieden.
Als ausländischer Bürger, der in Portugal lebt, erlaube ich mir höflichst, Sie als verantwortlichen Stadtdirektor zu erinnern, diesen Antrag Nr. 423 mit Wohlwollen und zeitnah positiv zu bescheiden.
Auf die Ausführungen in
LADINA, (.pt) und FRIENDS OF MARRANOS (.en) sowie Rua da Judiaria (.pt) nehme ich ausdrücklich Bezug.

In der Hoffnung, keine Fehlbitte geleistet zu haben
verbleibe ich hochachtungsvoll
und mit freundlichen Grüßen

Ralf Wokan

Memorial-Lisbon Massacre 1506-Alma Gottlieb

Dear Mayor Costa,
I have recently learned that the City Council of Lisbon was planning to pass a motion on October 30 to install, in St. Dominic's Square, a memorial to the Jews who were massacred on that very square in Lisbon in 1506, and to all who have suffered discrimination and personal villainy in Portugal because of their origin, conviction or ideas. I applaud this effort and urge you to carry it forward.
As a scholar who lived in Lisbon last year while starting a new research project focusing on Cape Verdeans who have some Jewish ancestry, I have come to care about Portugal deeply, and it gratified me to learn that the country was beginning to come to terms with its intolerant past in this modest but symbolically resonant and appropriate way. It now grieves me to learn that the motion is currently being blocked because of intervention by the Catholic church.
As many historians have written, those who are ignorant of their history are doomed to repeat it. A public reminder of the country's grave mistakes will serve as an important lesson and warning to the citizens of the future.
I lived in Lisbon during the period when you were elected as president of the City Council, and I was highly impressed by the integrity you demonstrated concerning many diverse issues. I am confident that your ethical instincts will prevail, and that you will manage to put this important initiative back up for discussion and, ultimately, that you will count as one of your prouder achievements that the aforementioned monument will have been commissioned and installed under your wise leadership.

Sincerely,
Alma Gottlieb
Professor of Anthropology, Women's Studies and African Studies
Member, Campus Honors Faculty; Interdisciplinary Concentration in
Cultural Studies and Interpretive Research
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
109 Davenport Hall
Urbana, IL 61801
USA
Tel. (private line): 217-244-3515
Tel. (dept. sec'y): 217-333-3616
Office fax: 217-244-3490
Home fax: 217-367-7638
Website with videos and photos of Beng babies: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/gottlieb/gottlieb_videos.html

Memorial-Lisbon Massacre 1506-Rona Hart

Re: Lisbon Anti-Judaic Massacre of 1506

"Rona Hart"

Thu Nov 22, 2007 6:11 pm (PST)


Thanks for this information and opportunity. I have forwarded the email to the Board
of Deputies (UK), Council of Christians and Jews in London, the Office of the Chief
Rabbi and various individuals including religious leaders and hope they will all write!

Maybe others could also try their local community leaders, etc. to generate a
powerful response.

Regards to all, RLH


A request to the Mayor

Thu Nov 22, 2007 6:12 pm (PST)


To Mayor Antonio Costa, Lisbon
Councillor Jose Fernandes
Councillor Maria Rosetta

Your Worship and Councillors,

I'm sorry I can't write to you in your own language, but my ancestors left Portugal for Holland and England some generations ago, and my mother tongue is English.

I was gratified to learn that the City Council of Lisbon was planning to commemorate the martyrdom of thousands of Jews who died for their faith in 1506, together with all those who had suffered because of their convictions or ideas.

This seems a very appropriate gesture - one which would lead to reconciliation and goodwill among faith groups, and would be welcomed by many.

If there is any doubt that this timely and humanitarian project will be postponed or cancelled, I hope all problems will be overcome and hope you will be able to see that this excellent idea is carried through.

In Essex, south east England, where I live, there are memorials to individuals who went to the stake for their faith during the reign of Mary Tudor of England (1555-58). One plaque quotes the words of the ordinary Englishman who declared that if each one of the hairs of his head was a life, he would give them all, in order to worship as he believed was right.

There are other memorials, some in quite small villages, to recall the deaths of one or two individuals.

Accordingly, it would be altogether fitting that Lisbon should honour the thousands of her citizens who perished in 1506 and thereafter.

With kind regards

R. Linda Hart (descendant of Mendes Coutinho family)

ANTI-JUDAIC MASSACRE OF LISBON IN 1506

National theatre Maria II, Rossio square, formerly Estaus Palace, tribunal of the Inquisition. The underground prison was slightly to the west, i.e. left. It was the site of one of the bonfires of the mass burnings in April of 1506 of 2, 000 to 4,000 New Christians, Jews who were forcibly baptized in 1497, ironically many on the same site. Unlike Spain, Jews were not actually expelled from Portugal, they were ordered baptized by the king and prohibited from initially leaving the realm.




IN THE MATTER OF THE ANTI-JUDAIC MASSACRE OF LISBON IN 1506
(Portuguese version at http://www.ladina.blogspot.com/)

In the City Council of the city of Lisbon
(Motion deferred on October 30, 2007, no new date yet set to vote on the motion.)

Mayor António Costa gab.presidente@cm-lisboa.pt

Councillor José Fernandes jose.sa.fernandes@cm-lisboa.pt

Councillor Maria Rosetta gab.cpl@cm-lisboa.pt


Proposal n. º 423/2007
(Translation by mlopesazevedo)

(Preamble numbered 1 to 3 is at the end of this page)

4. In the year of 1506, the city of Lisbon was the stage for the most dramatic and bloody anti-Judaic episode of all those that are known in our territory:

5. During three days, 19th, 20th and the 21st of April, these events, that started next to St. Domenic's Convent (presently St. Domenic's square), resulted in about two thousand Lisbonites, for mere suspicion of professing Judaism, being barbarously assassinated and burned in two enormous fires in Rossio and Ribeira.

6. Evoking this heinous crime which constituted the massacre of 1506, inscribed in the politics of intolerance, that, according to Antero de Quental, contributed to the decadence of the Peninsular people, to posthumously do justice to all the victims of intolerance and to constitute an unequivocal affirmation of a cosmopolitan, multiethnic and multicultural Lisbon.

The councillors of the Socialist Party, councillor Helena Rosetta, and councillor Jose Sa Fernandes, pursuant to paragraph no. 7 of article 64 of Statute 169/99 of the 18th of September, ratified by Statute 5-A/2002 of the 11th of January, have the honour of proposing to the City Council of Lisbon, at its meeting of the 31st of October 2007, (that) it resolve:

1. To install in the city of Lisbon a Memorial to the Victims of Intolerance, evocative of the Jewish massacre of Lisbon of 1506 and all victims who suffered discrimination and personal villainy because of their origin, conviction or ideas.

a. The Memorial to be located in the St. Dominic's square, should have as a central element an olive tree of great bearing and contemplate an engraved stone evocative of the Jewish massacre of Lisbon of 1506, as well as an urbanistic setting of the surrounding area, its conception, execution and installation to be carried out by municipal services.

b. The inauguration of the memorial will be on the 19th day of April 2008, in a ceremony promoted by the City Council of Lisbon, to which will be invited all ethnic and religious communities of the city.

The Councillors

(PREAMBLE)
1. November 16 next is International day of Tolerance, universally understood, in terms of the declaration of the principles of tolerance adopted by UNESCO, not with concession, condescendence or indulgence, but rather with an attitude of respect and mutual recognition, animated by the recognition of the universal rights of the human being and of fundamental liberties;

2. International Day of Tolerance is a universal call to one of the greatest virtues of humanity, substantiated in the active pledge and in the comprehension of the richness and diversity of humanity,

3. The pedagogy of combating racism, discrimination, xenophobia and all analogous forms of intolerance, constitutes a fundamental axis of democracy and of the peaceful coexistence amongst peoples:

Finally At Home

FINALMENTE EM CASA

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_7qyYu0SZnwU/RzPblQ5AXtI/AAAAAAAAAMk/Ck_VGdO5Y4I/s320/RETORNO+Emmanu+El+Temple+%285%29.JPG
Rabbi Posner, Zeev ben Amaral. Yaacov Gladstone


FINALLY AT HOME


Zeev ben Amaral
Translated by elopesazevedo

Finally…yes, finally, at home. It was on the 4th of November of 2007…an unforgettable day, the most important of my life and for my family. It’s not just any house, but my family roots- the Jewish people, Israel and Judaism. Uffff, what a relief and so much joy…it’s the same feeling of an athlete, when he crosses the finish line…Wow..I arrived..and I leave behind a whole set of feelings, of pain, of anxiety, of despair, etc…I finally succeeded.
Yes, it has been a long journey, a journey that started in 1985, at the time of my first trip to Israel, where I stayed until the end of 1991. After that it was in Portugal, in 2003. Posterioriorly, already in this year of 2007, I tried to return once more to Israel, and finally…finally…finally, a door opened, in New York, in the United States of America.
This trip starts in Israel, more precisely in Jerusalem. I am a native of Moçambique, 53 years old, and father of two adult sons. The oldest is called João and is married to Elizabeth, an American citizen. The youngest is called Bruno and is single. They both live in London. Oh, I am also a friend of another Moçambican, who also lives in Israel, Avner.
After despairing and failed attempts to return via an Orthodox organization, and after another conversation about the issue with my friend Avner (a yeshiva student at Machon Meir, Jerusalem), the name of Yaacov Gladstone came to me, resident in Manhattan New York, founder and president of the organization, “Friends of Marranos” (friendsofmarranos@gmail.com). This organization is dedicated to the transmission of Jewish education and to rendering help in the publication of Marrano stories and memories.
Continuing, in this manner my whole journey starts, in the endeavour to finalize my return. I telephone Miguel of Belmonte and ask him if he has the phone number of Yaacov Gladstone. He responds that no, but that he would enter into contact with Manuel Azevedo, because he surely would know it. For those who do not know, Manuel Azevedo is a Marrano, a Canadian lawyer, of Portuguese origin and very active in pro-Judaic cultural movements and is one of the founders of the “Ladina” organization.
And thus it was, Miguel (a member of the Jewish community of Belmonte) sent me an email with Yaacov’s number. I telephoned Yaacov Gladstone and asked him if it was possible to find a rabbi interested in performing a “mitzvah” (he who saves a soul saves humanity). Yaacov responded on the telephone that he would take care of the matter. And thus it was so. after a few days, Yaacov sent me an email confirming the possibility of my return being realized in New York. These are the words in his email:

“Dear Zeev,

Rabbi Posner would like to perform the Returning Ceremony on Nov.4, 2 PM. at Temple Emanu El. So please make sure to arrive before that date. Rabbi Posner will be arriving from Israel on Nov. 1. I will invite friends and well wishers for the Ceremony. I learned last night that very close friends of mine, Israelis from Tel Aviv, who are now vacationing in Greece will also be coming to stay with me, either end of Oct. or beginning of Nov. So they too will be invited to the Great Event in your Life and we will all share in your SIMCHA.”

As it should be expected, I telephoned Avner and told him the news. I found myself in Naharyia and Avner in Jerusalem. It is October 2007 and I am anxious for that day of November 4th to come. I start to effect the preparation for my dislocation to New York. I purchase my airline tickets and bus ticket on the Internet. On the 29th of October, at 2 in the morning, I leave Naharyia by train to Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion airport, a trip that takes about 2 hours. The trains are modern, comfortable and acclimatized. I embark at 6 in the morning, on an Israir flight to Stanstead airport, in suburban London. I stay about 20 hours in London in the company of my children and daughter-in-law. I take advantage of the occasion to tell them in detail all of this whole process and the entire emotional and sentimental load involved. Needless to say, they turned radiant, and moreover, hopeful and convinced.
On the 30th day, at 9 in the morning, I had to be at the airport, but as I was going on a National Express bus and there had been a big accident, traffic was stalled, and thus I lost my flight. I paid an additional 95 pounds to not lose the ticket and to be able to embark on the following day. With this entanglement, I ended up spending 24 hours at Gatwick airport. Just as well, for at dawn I met my friend Manuel Azevedo and we started talking about his trip to Canada and mine to America. The last time that I had seen him, was on a flight that we both made from Lisbon to London, I think in May, and the disembarkation at this airport-Gatwick. Jokingly, Manuel Azevedo said, “To see each other, we have to be at airports!”.
I embark from London to New York via Bermuda. It was a fantastic trip, despite the 10 hours with a stop in Bermuda. I finally arrive at Kennedy airport and catch a bus to Manhattan, which cost me 15 dollars and took about one hour. I descend on 40th Street and Yaacov’s house is between 38th and 37th Street on Lexington Avenue. Reason had a friend from Moçambique that lives and works in London, when he told me that in Manhattan the tourists spend their time looking up, as the skyscrapers are so tall.
I ring Yaacov’s doorbell and it’s a delight for both of us. It is the 31st day of October, a Wednesday, around 6 in the evening, local time; the hour difference is 5 hours, from Portugal. I had Thursday and Shabbat to prepare myself for Sunday. Shabbat was spent in the synagogue. During these days, the anxiety was ever increasing as the big day approached.
Finally, on Sunday, I got up early to prepare myself for the great and unforgettable celebration. Yaacov and I left the house around 12.45 in order to catch a bus and then another. And all this takes time and we had arranged with other people to meet up at the entrance to the synagogue, Temple EmanuEl, at 13.30. I spent the whole time talking to Yaacov about the solemn act; needless to say, I was like a volcano, ready to enter into eruption. We all met, in the atrium of the entrance to the temple and after some conversation and smiles, rabbi David Posner arrived.
The rabbi is responsible for Temple Emanu El (www.emanuelnyc.org/), Reform congregation. He had an enormous smile for being able to perform another great “mitzvah” and thanked Yaacov for this opportunity. Previously, rabbi Posner carried out the return ceremony of another Portuguese, Fernando, who finds himself in London. The rabbi turned on the interior lights of the Temple and what a marvel, a beautiful Temple, of great height, width and length. I had never been in such a beautiful synagogue, majestic, imposing, and unusual. Clearly, I was very proud, because even the scene was spectacular…everything contributed to heating up and increasing the pressure of my interior furnace…what interior joy…what a start to the ceremony. At a certain point, the rabbi asks me to repeat after him, the following declaration,

“On the 4th day of November 2007 corresponding to the 23rd day of Cheshvan, according to the traditional Hebrew calendar, at Congregation Emanu El , in New York city, Zeev Amaral entered the historic covenant between God and the people of Israel. Of his own free will he has made the following declaration:



I make this affirmation as I enter the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, the children of Israel. I choose to become a Jew of my own free will. I accept Judaism to the exclusion of all other religions, faiths and practices and now pledge my loyalty to Judaism and the Jewish people under all circumstances. I promise to establish a Jewish home and participate actively in the life of the Synagogue and the Jewish community. I commit myself to the pursuit of Torah and Jewish knowledge. If I am blessed with children, I will rear them as Jews.”

After I recited the Shema, the certificate signed by the rabbi and three witnesses was handed to me for my signature. And so I did, I signed the certificate with my name Zeev ben Amaral and then rabbi Posner handed me the certificate and said, “Welcome back to our people”.
I contained myself emotionally, and then the rabbi took a Sefer Torah from the Ark and handed it to me to hold to my great satisfaction, but also as a symbol of the covenant. I held the Torah with great pleasure. Here, yes, I could not control myself and I smiled with an expression of contentment, of pride, with a duty fulfilled, of having attained the objective, of returning home, of reconnecting to my roots, of being part of the family again, of belonging to the people of Israel, of being proud of my Torah and being able to be observant, being able to use my tefelin, talit and kippa, in the end, being a Jew.
As everyone can imagine, the joy is great and that day was the most intense and unforgettable of my life. I finally succeeded in re-starting the journey of my maternal family (Portugal) and paternal (Spain), at the point where the Inquisition abruptly and forcibly cut it off. The course of my life changed direction again and this time, I returned to the original family destiny, the Jewish world.

I want to leave here, a word of appreciation and thankfulness to Yaacov Gladstone, an untiring and indispensable person in this final trajectory-the ceremony. My heartfelt thank you from the bottom of my heart.

BARROS BASTO TV SPECIAL

A TV special on Captain Barros Basto will be shown on Portuguese national tv station RTP2 on Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 9.00a.m.

Captain Arthur Carlos Barros Basto (Abraham Israel ben-Rosh)
"O Primeiro de Janeiro", Portugal's oldest national newspaper
http://www.oprimeirodejaneiro.pt/


"O Primeiro de Janeiro", Portugal's oldest national newspaper reports today (September 24, 2007) on the European Day of Jewish Culture held in Porto on September 2, 2007 and the launch of a new book on Barros Basto by Alexandre Teixeira Mendes. In a two page comprehensive article the reporter quotes Yaacov Gladstone and Dr. Harold Michal-Smith of the the American friends of Marranos announcing the mounting of a petition to rehabilitate captain Barros Basto, rabbi Di Martino on Judaism in Portugal, Jorge Neves on the Jewish community of Porto and Ladina, and Alexandre Teixeira Mendes, author of Barros Basto, the Marrano Mirage.

(see ladina blog for text in Portuguese)

PISSARRO IN NEW YORK, PARIS, BRAGANÇA


CAMILLE PISSARRO FAMILY PLOT, PARIS



MANOEL ANTONIO PISSARRO FAMILY PLOT IN BRAGANÇA MUNICIPAL CEMETERY, PORTUGAL



The Moses Of Impressionism
(courtesy of the Jewish Week, N.Y,)

In a long career, Camille Pissarro — one of his artistic movement's only Jews — painted a wide range of landscapes and got caught up in the Dreyfus Affair.

Caroline Lagnado - Special To The Jewish Week

Ethereal  cityscape: Pissarro's
Camille Pissarro may have been reluctant to embrace his Jewish background, but his work is no stranger to New York's Jewish Museum. Opening this Sunday, "Camille Pissarro: Impressions of City and Country" is the museum's third exhibit about the 19th-century artist. This multifaceted show is drawn mainly from pieces borrowed from private collections, and is replete with many harvest scenes.

Born Jacob Pizarro in 1830 on St. Thomas, Pissarro enjoyed a long and productive career, painting the French countryside in addition to England and the Danish West Indies. A founding member of the Impressionists, a radical group of 19th-century artists that decided to take their easels outside, use visible brushstrokes and embrace scenes of everyday life, Pissarro was one of the only Jews to exhibit with them.

Considered the "Father of Impressionism," for sporting a long, flowing white beard, adopting the nickname Moses and being perhaps the most committed Impressionist artist, Pissarro exhibited in and helped coordinate each of the movement's eight shows until the group's dissolution in 1886.

Joachim Pissarro, Camille's great-grandson and a preeminent scholar of the artist's work, notes in a catalog from a 1994 exhibit at the Israel Museum that though Pissarro didn't live a particularly Jewish life, he never denied being Jewish. In fact, Pissarro saw his espousal of Impressionism as somewhat ironic, "he himself a Jew, belonging to a millennia-old tradition, was making a total break with all forms of tradition."

Pissarro's family, Sephardim originally from Portugal, were Marranos who later became re-involved with Judaism, enough to hold prominent standing in the St. Thomas Jewish community. However, his father Frederic's relationship with the community became strained when Frederic married his uncle's widow, Rachel. This arrangement is permitted in neither Christian nor Jewish law, and children born are considered illegitimate. It wasn't until Pissarro's mother gave birth to their fourth child that the synagogue legitimized the marriage.

It is probable that after such an ordeal with the Jewish establishment, Rachel and Frederic raised their children to view religion with a critical eye. Until the Pissarro children were legitimized, they went to school with the children of slaves and were most likely among the only white and non-Christian children there.

In choosing to become a painter instead of a businessman, Pissarro rejected his father's life. He moved to Paris to paint in 1855 and later married a non-Jewish servant. Adopting an anarchist ideology, he saw art as the philosophy of his time, despised authoritarianism and raised his children without religion, encouraging them to instead value their independence and autonomy.

The France of Pissarro's time was relatively tolerant towards its sizable and mostly Ashkenazi Jewish population, a community in which the Sephardic Pissarro may have felt uncomfortable. Pissarro did fit in with the Impressionists, and enjoyed his position as an established, successful artist, discussing work with fellow artists like Degas and Cezanne.

Associate curator Karen Levitov focuses on Pissarro's use of paths in his art, a natural intersection of nature and civilization. Pissarro's own path or his trajectory as painter of the country to painter of the city is followed throughout the show.

As art historian Meyer Schapiro has noted, Pissarro began his career with bucolic scenes, and as he aged, painted streets and crowds, the opposite of his peer, Monet. His earlier works are signed C. Pizarro, the Sephardic spelling of the artist's name. He stopped spelling his name with a "z" in 1859, shortly before the writer Emile Zola took note of Pissarro's art and commended him on a landscape.

Pissarro shows himself to be expert at integrating his figures into their backgrounds; it is sometimes hard to distinguish one from the other. In "Kew Gardens, London, The Rhododendron Path," from 1892, the figures shown walking on a path are tiny, almost overtaken completely by Pissarro's depiction of nature using bright and vibrant, sometimes unmixed, colors. In "The Haystack, Sunset, Eragny," from 1895, Pissarro adopts a familiar Impressionist theme. This foreground-heavy picture includes two figures at the left who are so small they seem almost like an afterthought. In her catalog essay, Levitov asserts that Pissarro felt a kinship with the peasantry because of his "marginal status in society as a non-French (Danish) citizen, an anarchist, and a Jew."

Though France was one of the first European counties to grant Jews full civil equality around 1791, anti-Semitism was latent in the society, rising to the surface during the Dreyfus Affair, when Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer, was wrongly convicted of treason. While Pissarro and Emile Zola hadn't been in touch because of what Pissarro considered Zola's "critical attitude" towards Impressionism, once Zola published "J'Accuse," an open letter on the front page of L'Aurore newspaper, accusing the French government of mistreating Dreyfus's case, Pissarro immediately wrote a letter of support to Zola. The streets of Paris housed anti-Semitic mobs and Monet and Cassat joined Zola as Dreyfus supporters.

Degas, a misanthrope and anti-Semite, blamed France's troubles on the Jews and was joined by Cezanne and Renoir in siding with the government. The artists still admired each other's work even though they couldn't stand each other. Renoir and Degas were said to have shunned Pissarro, who called Degas a "ferocious anti-Semite" in a letter to his son, Lucien.

Throughout the Dreyfus Affair, Pissarro tried to remain focused on his work and continued painting prolifically: he produced nearly 50 pieces. By this point he was painting city scenes in addition to rural scenes; he never depicted the anti-Jewish riots. These later pieces, like the ethereal "Place du Theatre Francais and the Avenue de l'Opera, Hazy Weather," of 1898 from the Klapper collection, are often painted with a bird's-eye view from his hotel room high above Paris. They show Pissarro to be keeping "a certain distance while viewing the outside world," commented Levov.

Following the success of a blockbuster exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 2005 (which also traveled to Paris and the Los Angeles) and a more recent exhibit in Baltimore last spring, Pissarro's name is well known.

The Jewish Museum show is mounted on earth-colored walls, with the exception of a small red room that brings out strong contrasts on small yet lovely etchings hung there. This exhibit can appeal to different viewers with its three foci: a great Jewish artist, Impressionist art and a rare glimpse at many privately owned pieces rarely seen in museum settings. n

"Camille Pissarro: Impressions of City and Country" runs from Sept. 16 to Feb. 3 at The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. at 92nd Street. Saturday-Wednesday, 11a.m.-5:45 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Closed Fridays and all major Jewish holidays. For more information, go to www.thejewishmuseum.org or call (212) 423-3200.





FORMER RUA DIREITA OF THE JUDIARIA (JEWISH QUARTER) IN BRAGANÇA

Rosh Hashaná (and Jewish Directory)

Rabbi Elisha Salas, Kadoorie Mekor Haim sinagoga, Porto, Portugal

ROSH HASHANÁ/ ANO NOVO JUDAICO
(English text below)


Terça-feira, dia 12 de Setembro de 2007, ao pôr-do-sol, é o início do Ano Novo Judaico, Rosh Hashana, o primeiro dia do mês de Tishrei do ano judaico 5768. De acordo com a tradição judaica, o mundo foi criado em Rosh Hashana e nesse tempo, todas as coisas vivas da terra estavam sujeitas ao julgamento divino. Dez dias depois, Yom Kippur, é o dia do perdão . A preparação para as festas do Ano Novo
judaicas, começam durante o mês anterior, o de Elul. Durante esse mês, o shofar (chifre de carneiro) é tocado nas sinagogas e em muitas casas, para nos levar a
reflectir sobre os nossos actos e formas de estar com os outros e com D-us, durante o ano que passou. É um tempo de reflexão e de recomeço.

Em Israel, bem como em outros sítios, é costume as pessoas colocarem anúncios nos jornais desejando a todos um "Shana Tovah" (um bom ano), e pedirem perdão àqueles que inadvertidamente ofenderam ou magoaram. Durante estas festividades, comem-se pequenos pedaços de maça mergulhados em mel, simbolizando o desejo de bom ano novo. Famílias e amigos juntam-se em refeições festivas, e visitam-se uns aos outros

O ênfase da liturgia está no arrependimento, no perdão e na prática de boas acções (mitzvot). As orações na sinagoga não são apenas pela redenção individual, mas também pela redenção do Povo Judeu e por uma reparação e transformação de todo o mundo (Tikkun Olam).

No dia da expiação, a lei judaica estipula um jejum de 25 horas, a partir do pôr-do-sol do dia anterior ao Yorn Kippur. Este tempo de jejum, durante o qual até a água é proibida, é propício à contemplação e introspecção, levando-nos a procurar aquilo que podemos melhorar em nós mesmos, na comunidade e no resto do mundo.

Na véspera do Yorm Kippur, todos os judeus, mesmo os que não são praticantes, vão para as sinagogas ouvir uma das mais profundas e comoventes orações, chamada Kol Nidre (todos os nossos votos). Os judeus pedem perdão por terem feito votos contra a sua vontade, como foi o baptismo forçado em 1497 em Portugal. As palavras e melodias, levam os judeus a identificarem-se com os Marranos da Ibéria que foram forçados a assumir o compromisso de serem bons católicos, sabendo que a sua devoção estava com o Único D-us, Adonai, um termo jamais esquecido pelos Marranos.

Qualquer leitor que pretenda aprender mais acerca das Festas de Ano Novo, pode contactar em portugal as seguintes comunidades:

LISBOA


Beit Israel (Comunidade Judaica Masorti)
Rua Filipe de Mata, 103, 2º
1600-070 Lisboa
Contact: Adriana Souza
info@beitisrael.org
www.beitisrael.org
21 797 52 83

Shaaré-Tikvá Synagogue (Orthodox)
Rua Alexandre Herculano, 59
1250-010 Lisboa
cilisboa@mail.telepac.pt
21 385 86 04

PORTO


Comunidade Israelita Do Porto
Rua Guerra Junqueiro,340
Porto 4100
info@comunidade-israelita-porto.org
Jorge Neves, 91 755 30 42

BELMONTE


Sinagoga Bet Eliyahu
Apartado 18
Belmonte 6250-000
Pres. Abilio Henriques
27 591 31 57

ALGARVE

Comunidade Judaica de Algarve
Ralf Pinto
ralf.pinto@sapo.pt
96 844 04 14

THE JEWISH HIGH HOLIDAYS- ROSH HASHANA and YOM KIPPUR

Yaacov Gladstone
mlopesazevedo

Wednesday, September 12, 2007, at sundown, is the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, the first of the month of Tishrei, 5768. According to Jewish tradition the world was created on Rosh Hashanah and every living thing on earth is subject to G-d’s judgment at this time. Ten days later, Yom Kippur, is the day of Atonement. The preparation for the High Holidays started during the previous month of Elul. During that month, the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown in synagogues and in many homes to remind us to reflect on our actions and relationships with others including G-d during the past year. It is time for reflection and a fresh start.

In Israel and elsewhere it is customary for people to take out ads in newspapers wishing everyone a “Shana Tovah” (a good year) and asking for forgiveness from those whom we inadvertently offended or hurt. During the holidays apple slices dipped in honey are eaten to symbolize the desire for a good sweet year. Families and friends gather for festive meals and visit each other.

The focus of the liturgy is on repentence, forgiveness, and doing good deeds (mitzvot). The prayers in the synagogue are not only for individual redemption, but also for the redemption of the Jewish People and for repairing and transforming the whole world (Tikkun Olam).

On the day of Atonement. Jewish law stipulates a 25 hour fast starting at sundown on the eve of Yom Kippur. This time of fasting, during which even water is prohibited provides an opportunity for contemplation and introspection on how to improve ourselves, our community, and our ruptured world.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, all Jews, even the non-observant, flock to the synagogues to hear one of the most profound and moving prayers called Kol Nidre (All our vows). Jews ask for forgiveness for having taken vows against their will as it was with the forced baptism in 1497 in Portugal. The words and melody moves Jews to identify with the Marranos of Iberia who were forced to vow to be good Catholics knowing that their devotion was to the One G-d, Adonai, a term never forgotten by the Marranos.

Any reader who wishes to learn more about the High holidays can contact the following Jewish communities in Portugal:


BARROS BASTO, MARRANO MIRAGE

LAUNCH OF A NEW BOOK ABOUT BARROS BASTO, THE PORTUGUESE DREYFUS, PORTO, SEPT 2, 2007

(BARROS BASTO: A MIRAGEM MARRANA
DE ALEXANDRE TEIXEIRA MENDES,
por Pedro Sinde a seguir)



Author Alexandre Teixeira Mendes signing copies at launch (photo by Monica Delicato).
Yaacov Gladstone, Dr. Harold Michal-Smith and Isabel Barros Basto Lopes



(All photos copyright of Monica Delicato)



LAUNCH OF A NEW BOOK ABOUT BARROS BASTO, THE PORTUGUESE DREYFUS
Porto, Portugal
mlopesazevedo

It was standing room only at the magnificent Kadoorie Mekor Haim synagogue in Porto for the launch of a new book on the life and work of Captain Barros Basto. The book, by Marrano poet Alexander Teixeira Mendes offers a new vision of the man and his times. Written in Portuguese, (the English translation is underway), it is entitled “Barros Basto, the Marrano Mirage”.

Barros Basto, a former Marrano himself, was a leader and role model for thousands of Marranos hiding in the villages of northern Portugal. He established the first Yeshiva in Portugal, Rosh Pinah, since the forced baptism of Jews in 1497. Captain Basto built the Mekor Haim synagogue during the great depression (completed in 1938, the year 200 synagogues were destroyed in Europe) as a spiritual haven to encourage Marranos to return to their ancestral religion-Judaism.

The revival of open Judaism in Portugal was unacceptable to the totalitarian Salazar government and the Catholic Church. The captain was unjustly accused of homosexual acts and stripped of his military rank and honour for conducting circumcisions on returning Marranos. This was a near fatal blow to the revival of the Marrano movement. Those who came out fled back into hiding, many losing their jobs and ostracized.

Captain Arthur Barros Basto was devastated and died a broken hearted man in 1962. His granddaughter, Isabel Barros Basto Lopes is supporting a campaign being launched by the American and Portuguese Friends of Marranos to clear his name. A petition seeking justice for the captain will soon be launched.

The launch of Barros Basto, the Marrano Mirage, was made possible by the generosity of Dr. Harold Michal-Smith and Yaacov Gladstone, founder and president of the American Friends of Marranos. They were both honoured with a beautiful specially bound limited edition of the book. Mr. Yaacov Gladstone announced a further donation by the American Friends of Marranos to Ladina to support the upcoming publication “Marrano Women in the Inquisition” presently being researched by Fernanda Guimaraes. It is hoped that the women portrayed will be the subject of a play.

The book was presented by philosopher Pedro Sinde and Yaacov Gladstone. Pedro advised the attentive audience not to expect a traditional linear biographical story of the Captain and his work of rescue amongst the thousands of Marranos of northern Portugal. He resorted to a metaphor of a tree to explain the book; Barros Basto is the central trunk of the tree, surrounded by many branches. Accordingly, the author may in fact be describing biographical data, but then shifts to a question concerning the oppression of the Catholic church which in turn is linked to Salazar’s dictatorship, and ultimately returns to the tree trunk in a discussion of the oppression of the totalitarian state on Barros Basto because of his democratic beliefs.
This rich narrative permits the reader to imagine Barros Basto alive, accompanying him in his youth, during the war, in the mysterious Oryamita Institute, in his work of rescue, and in resisting the malicious connivance of the “new state” and the Church. Contrary to most authors, Alexandre transforms the object of his study into his subject, making this a passionate book, not an objective one.

Notably, this is the first time in Portuguese literature, (and this book IS literature, a book within a book with its one hundred and sixty or so lengthy footnotes), that a different concept of Portuguese identity is discussed openly. Following theories developed by Teixeira Pascoais, leader of the Portuguese Renaissance movement at the turn of the 20th century and of Antonio Telmo’s thesis of the secret history of Portugal (Professor Telmo, himself a Marrano, wrote the preface to the book), the author describes the Portuguese psyche as essentially Jewish, a golden thread of Portuguese literature revealed in Sampaio Bruno (the “Covered One” in the 19th century, Fernando Pessoa (the “Message”) in the 20th century, Camões in the epic Lusiadas and Bernardino Ribeiro in “Menina e Moça” in the 16th century, the latter published at the same Jewish printing house in Ferrara that published Samuel Usque’s “Consolation for the Tribulations of Israel” and the Ferrara bible dedicated to Dona Gracia.

A beaming and visibly moved Yaacov Gladstone said how proud he and Dr. Harold Michal-Smith were for helping to make Alexandre’s dream come true. They had met Alexandre four years previously when the book was only a dream.

Yaacov expressed the hope that other organizations such as the American Sephardic Federation, The Joint Distribution Committee, Jewish Federations, etc., will understand the urgency of continuing the work of Barros Basto to bring Jewish education to the Marranos or they will disappear like the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng.

The American and Portuguese Friends of Marranos are determined to help Marranos, wherever they may be, to regain their Jewish identity. Readers who wish to participate in this great mitzvah of bringing Jewish education to the Marranos can make cheques payable to “El Centro de Estudios Judios” and mail it to American Friends of Marranos, 310 Lexington Avenue, Ste. 5D, New York, New York, 10016 or email Yaacov at yanklegladstone@aol.com


mlopesazevedo, Yaacov Gladstone, Dr. Harold-Michal-Smith


PEDRO SINDE




(photo: paulo.gaspar.ferreira@in-libris.pt)


BARROS BASTO: A MIRAGEM MARRANA

DE ALEXANDRE TEIXEIRA MENDES
por Pedro Sinde


Um livro subjectivo

Com este livro de Alexandre Teixeira Mendes estamos
perante uma nova forma de olhar a figura do Capitão
Barros Basto – o “apóstolo dos marranos” –, porque
agora vemos plenamente a sua silhueta bem desenhada
não só como o homem de acção que resplandeceu na
“obra do resgate”, mas também como o homem
contemplativo, místico. Não se trata, felizmente,
de um estudo objectivo, quer dizer,
daquele tipo de ensaios que procura transformar
o sujeito do seu estudo em objecto, para que, pela
distância o veja numa aparência de claridade; pelo
contrário, estamos perante uma clara apologia,
estamos perante um livro deliberadamente
comprometido. É por esta razão que lhe chamo subjectivo,
naquela medida em que Alexandre Teixeira Mendes transforma
o objecto do seu estudo em sujeito, mostrando com vida o
percurso incandescente de Barros Basto, Ben-Rosh.
Dir-se-ia que aquilo que o livro eventualmente perca em
claridade, ganha indubitavelmente em fecundidade.
Naturalmente, esta forma de estudar e apresentar um tema
não é muito bem vista pelas academias. Mas isso não tem
importância, porque deste modo, avisados, podemos
apreciá-lo melhor, isto é, apreciá-lo em si mesmo,
sem corpetes, sem preconceitos que podem ser prejuízos.

Os marranos na caverna de Platão

O marrano aparece-me, na leitura deste livro de Alexandre
Teixeira Mendes, como aquelas figuras da caverna platónica:
durante séculos aprisionados à noite do segredo e do
degredo, deliberadamente aprisionados a um culto que não
era o seu. Um dos seus – o capitão Barros Basto,
Ben-Rosh – libertou-se da caverna e descobriu que a luz lá
de fora já não lhes era adversa, vem então avisá-los,
chamá-los à luz. Mas o marrano está já demasiado habituado
à noite, a noite é o seu dia e, por isso, está relutante
em partir. De algum modo, pressente que no segredo se
esconde alguma coisa de precioso, como se o segredo fosse
para si o que a terra é para a semente. Barros Basto
aparece como o modelo do marrano, o herói. Através
dele podemos sentir a aspiração de cada marrano,
vivendo escondido, mas querendo mostrar-se; desconfiado
das instituições, mas querendo voltar a ver a luz do dia,
a claridade meridiana. É no momento da libertação de
Barros Basto, deixa-nos entrever Alexandre, quando se
liberta da caverna, que percebe claramente que há uma
identidade marrana, que deve ser preservada, mas que,
simultaneamente, o marrano tem voltar à luz do dia.

Um paradoxo tremendo

Esconde-se nesta demanda da identidade marrana um
paradoxotremendo, que Alexandre Teixeira Mendes aborda
delicadamente: se há uma identidade marrana, quando
o marrano for reconduzido plenamente à ortodoxia do
culto sinagogal, essa identidade poderá desaparecer?
Diluir-se-á gradualmente? A sua especificidade nasceu
precisamente da ruptura forçada com as formas do culto
oficial, o que fez com que houvesse uma degenerescência
a esse nível, mas, por outro lado, fez com que se
depurasse a atitude, a intenção,a seriedade; fez,
numa palavra, com que despertassem novas forças
criadoras que supriam a ausência do culto
na sua completude.

Um marrano necessita de conversão ou apenas de retorno?

Alexandre Teixeira Mendes ergue esta questão numa nota
discreta. Faz apenas, honesta e corajosamente,
a pergunta, não responde. Vista pelo lado de fora,
a pergunta parece um absurdo, pois a forma do culto
marrano não parecia ser senão já apenas residual,
em grande parte dos casos. Mas se olharmos esta pergunta
a partir de dentro, talvez haja um sentido fundo que
merece ser reflectido. A vida era mais ou menos fácil
para o judeu que podia praticar às claras o seu culto;
tão fácil que podia cair numa rotina exterior. Difícil
era passar o culto secretamente, como tinha de fazer o
marrano, com risco da própria vida e, o que é mais grave,
com risco de vida dos seus descendentes. Imaginemos um pai
no momento em que resolve transmitir ao seu filho a sua
herança marrana; o drama de saber que, por amor ao seu
Deus, por amor a Deus, tinha de o fazer, até por amor
ao filho; mas na sua mente devia estar bem presente a
ideia de que o seu filho passaria a correr risco de vida.
O quehá de pior para um pai do que pôr em risco a vida
do filho? Por amor ao filho, quer preservá-lo do perigo,
mas, pelo mesmo amor, não pode deixar de lhe dar o seu
melhor tesouro: a sua salvação. Só me ocorre o drama de
Abraão no momento em está prestes a sacrificar Isaac.
Este episódio ilustra que o maior tesouro do homem são
os filhos, mais alto só o amor a Deus. O judeu, que
eventualmente o seja apenas por rotina, será mais
judeu do que este que em nome de Deus põe a sua vida
e a dos seus em risco? É Alexandre que define,
significativamente, o marrano por este modo:
“Judeus exilados entre as nações e
também exilados entre os judeus.”

Subconsciente judaico e consciente cristão

Numa tese brilhante, fecundíssima, que espera ainda quem
retire todas as consequências que dela decorrem, António
Telmo concita a nossa atenção para uma definição do povo
português como sendo cristão no seu consciente e judeu
no subconsciente. Nesta perspectiva, muitos dos cristãos
são judeus que se ignoram como tal, judeus forçados a
reprimir para a sombra a sua identidade mais profunda.
Alexandre chama a atenção para este aspecto que merece
reflexão. Quando se começa a dar a ruptura, em Portugal,
com o judaísmo, acontece esse processo de descida de uma
parte da sua identidade às profundezas do subconsciente.
Esta ruptura é causa de inúmeros males; não são
apenas os judeus que sofrem com isso, é também Portugal
que se vê privado de uma parte essencial da sua identidade.
Não podem deixar de nos ocorrer aqui as figuras de Abel
e Caim.

O livro de Alexandre Teixeira Mendes espelha, curiosamente,
uma estrutura dupla, aquela mesma estrutura dupla que o
marrano adoptou para, simultaneamente, sobreviver e
preservar, como podia, o seu culto: o texto do livro é o
seu consciente;as notas (que ocupam quase outro livro) são
o seu subconsciente. A impressão com que se fica é que as
notas são um sussurro, como se Alexandre ali falasse
baixinho, na esperança de dizer o que
diz apenas para aqueles que o saibam e possam ouvir.

Barros Basto e a Renascença Portuguesa

Uma última palavra sobre o livro. Alexandre Teixeira Mendes
aproxima a acção de Barros Basto da acção da Renascença
Portuguesa. Creio ser a primeira vez que isso acontece,
em todo o caso, é seguramente a primeira vez que
alguém o formula nos termos em que Alexandre o faz.
Na mesma época e pelo mesmo impulso, o capitão procurava
a identidade marrana e os da Renascença a identidade
portuguesa. Não pode deixar de ser notável que Teixeira de
Pascoaes, epígono da Renascença, desse tanta importância
ao elemento semita na formação da identidade e até da
missão histórica de Portugal, sobretudo numa altura em que,
um pouco por toda a Europa, os movimentos anti-semitas
cresciam em violência, preparados por alguns sectores do
ocultismo e, essencialmente, pelo darwinismo. Este livro
único de Alexandre Teixeira Mendes bem merece ser lido por
quantos procuram compreender a identidade marrana em geral
e, em particular, a identidade portuguesa, que tanto tem
perdido com a desintegração de uma parte que sempre ajudou
a constituir a sua vitalidade. Não há-de ser por acaso que
o início da decadência de Portugal coincide com o momento
de ruptura com o povo judeu, que formava uma parte de si.
Mas Caim, destavez, não matou Abel.

(Reconstituição da apresentação)


Pedro Sinde



A TRIP THROUGH JEWISH PORTUGAL

A DIARY OF A TRIP THROUGH JEWISH PORTUGAL

Jacob and Miriam (Toots) Lefkowitz

During the month of May, my wife and I travelled to Portugal with a dual purpose in mind; we wanted to see the sights in this small country at the SW corner of Europe and also we wanted to discover the forgotten relics of a once flourishing Jewish community that existed here until the year 1497 when King Manuel married the daughter of the King and Queen of Spain. One of the conditions for the marriage was the expulsion of the Jews as occurred in Spain in 1492. Many of the Jews in Portugal eventually left, going to France and Holland, Salonika and North Africa. Those that remained were forcibly converted to Catholicism and where known as ‘New Christians’.

Our plane landed about 8:30 a. m Monday May 6, 2007 in Lisbon. After going through customs and getting our rental car we drove to our hotel, the Mundial, arriving about noon. It is a nice hotel located in the old historic part of the city. We took a nap for about an hour because time wise it was 6 a. m in Houston.

Before leaving Houston I had made contact with a man living in Portugal, Manuel Azevedo, who agreed to meet us and give a walking tour of the old areas of Lisbon. He is involved with a group of people whose ancestors, including his, lived in Portugal as Jews until they were forced to either leave the country or convert to Catholicism.

We started our tour in an area known as the Baixa. In 1755 there was an eartquake in Lisbon followed by a tidal wave from the Tejo River. This area, the Baixa was hit the hardest. Most of the buildings were destroyed and many people died. It was in this area that a number of Jews lived and where they had their businesses. According to old records the main Synagogue was in this area also. The new streets of the Baixa were laid out parallel and perpendicular to each other doing away with most of the ancient maze of the original streets in parts of the Baixa.

Adjoining this is the neighborhood of Alfama where many Jews escaping from Spain lived. There is no physical evidence of past Jewish existence in Lisbon, other than the name of a street, Rua da Judiaria. Along this street there is an old Roman wall above which are two windows of a house built in a style indicative of those used in Jewish homes.

In our four hour walking tour we did see the location of the building where the Tribunal of the Inquisition interrogated and kept prisoner those “new” Christians accused of secretly practicing their religion be they Jewish or Moslem. We also went to the Praça do Comercio where those who were convicted of heresy were burned to death.

These areas are made up of many short winding streets all of which are cobblestone. The buildings are very ornate. Most were probably built during the time that Portugal was reaping great wealth from its colonies.

After our walking tour we decided to go back up to our hotel as we were a little tired. Manuel had recommended a restaurant in the area serving traditional food so we decided to go there. The restaurant named Joao do Grao was being operated by the fourth generation after being founded 150 years ago. It seems as though Cod fish is a favorite of the Portuguese, be it grilled, sauteed, or fried. It is always served with boiled potatoes. We found it to be a tasty dish.

The next morning, Tuesday we went by taxi to an area west of Lisbon named Belem. It is also on the River Tejo, which flows from Spain and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. It is from Belem that the explorers, including Vasco da Gama who sailed to open a sea route around the southern tip of Africa to India went to sea. Belem is loaded with great sights; we did not go to all of them, but we did our best. First along the River front is the Tower of Belem, built around 1515 as a fortress on the River Tejo to guard the approach to Lisbon. It was built in a style of architecture known as Manueline, named after the king at that time Dom Manuel I. It is a structure so unique and beautiful that it is impossible to describe in words. (It was classified by UNESCO as World Heritage and is under the auspices of the UN). We explored it from the top turrets down to the bottom dungeon.

Next to the Tower is a monument built in 1960 to honor Prince Henry on his voyages. It is an impressive building with a museum inside.

Across from these is the Monastery of Geronimo also built in the Manueline style. Vasco da Gama is entombed here. It is an enormous place with a large church and museum. There are several other museums of interest in the area; one of which is the Coach Museum which has a unique collection of 16th to 20th century coaches and carriages.

We stopped at one of the many outdoor cafes for lunch and then went to the world famous Casa Pasteis de Belem Café birthplace in 1837 of a wonderful custard tart known as ‘pastel de Belem’. The recipe is as well guarded as that of Coca-Cola. They are small custard tarts; very good with cinnamon and sugar and coffee.

We took a bus back to Lisbon and got off in the Baixa area. We then took another bus that climbed up a number of circular streets to a high place between Baixa and Alfama known as Castel de Sao George (Castle of St. George). From here we were able to see all of Lisbon and up and down the River. There were many impressive views of the area from here. We then took the bus back down through the maze of winding, twisting streets. We took an elevator to an upper area adjoing the Baixa known as Baixa Chiado. It was an “open air” elevator that was designed by a student of Eiffel (tower) and built in 1902.
Here we were able to see the original arches of the Convento de Carmo which was destroyed in the earth quake of 1755. The Gothic arches are all that remained. The Convent had been rebuilt but the arches remain as a monument.

We then walked back to our hotel and rested a while before going out to dinner (at 8 p.m). We took a taxi to a restaurant recommended by the hotel located on the river. The atmosphere was great, but the food was average. Had a nice time there and then came back to the hotel.

Wednesday morning we checked out of the Hotel Mundial and headed east toward the medieval walled city of Evora, about 90 miles away, whose history goes back to the Greeks. On the way to Evora we stopped at a place known as Cromeleque Dos Almendres. It is Portugal’s 4000 year old ‘Stonehenge’, 90 large erect granite stones in the shape of an oval set in the midst of cork trees. The site served as a gathering place for Stone Age Sun worshipers. Besides the beauty of the ancient site I liked seeing the cork trees. After about 25 years of growth the trees are large enough to have their cork harvested. The bark is stripped back and the layer of cork is exposed. It is cut out and processed. This can then be done every 9 years. Portugal produces about 60 per cent of the world’s cork. From here we drove about 20 miles to Evora.

Our hotel the Cartuxa (pronounced ka tu sha) was just inside the old city walls.
We checked in and after unloading our luggage walked to the town center to explore. The main square is ‘Giraldo Square’. We found an open air café and had lunch. Over the centuries Evora had been ruled by the Romans, Moors, and Portuguese Kings; there are sights from each of these cultures. At one end of Giraldo Square there is a large fountain. Its water came from an aqueduct which carried water from a source north of the city.

On the west side of the square the tourist information office is housed in an old palace used by the kings to house their guests. The area behind the tourist information office was the Jewish Quarter. There are few physical remains that have been identified. The two streets of the Jewish Quarter are named Street of Coins and the Street of Merchants; indicative of the type of business they were allowed to engage in. At address number 65 on the Street of Merchants you can see there possibly had been a Mezuzah and over this had been chiseled a cross to indicate a ‘

New Christian’. Some studies and excavations have been made by Carmen Balesteros, a history professor at the University in Evora. We contacted her and she briefly outlined some of her finds in Evora, Castelo da Vide and other towns in the area. One of the Kings who lived here, King John III, was a fervent proponent of the Inquisition. He sanctioned the deaths of hundreds of people burned to death on the Square as heretics. Evora had one of the largest Jewish communities in Portugal during the XV Century, and thus, was one of the main Inquisition centers in Portugal

We took a self-guided walking tour of the area. Most of the sights are within 10 minutes of Giraldo Square. Parts of an old Roman wall are built into a building. There are large windows along the walkway that allow you to see the excavations under parts of the building. Many buildings cover Roman ruins. On our walk we came to another square. The town hall building is on this square. Inside, in one corner, there are the remains of a Roman bath which was uncovered during some repair work on the building.

Nearby at the highest point in Evora is the remains of a Roman temple. Concerts are held here during the summer. Across from the temple is the Museum of Evora. It was built on what had been the Roman Forum; the Museum was closed for remodeling. Next to the ancient Roman temple is the building used by the Tribunal of the Inquisition.

Here, Jews, Moors, and others thought to be heretics were tried and if convicted, would be marched through the streets down to the main square to be burned. Outside this building, which is now used by the University, is a granite sculpture of a body in a coffin as a memorial to those killed by the Inquisition.

We had a full day of exploring Evora so we decided to head back to our Hotel. We walked down from this upper square on a street named the 5th of October in commemoration of the date in 1910 that the Monarchy was abolished and Portugal became a republic. This is the same road built in Roman times to connect the upper area with the main square. On the way down we stopped at several small shops and bought some gifts to bring home. Off the road we saw a restaurant named Mr. Pickwick. The menu looked good and we decided to come back latter to eat here. We rested up for awhile and about 8 P. M. headed back to the Mr.Pickwick restaurant. The food was very good; I had some fish and Toots had some spaghetti pomodoro. We went back down to the Giraldo Square and walked around a bit and then went back to the hotel for the night.

The next day we went back up to the Roman Temple and took some more pictures and then went to the Cathedral which was nearby. Portugal has three bishops and one of them lives in Evora. We walked around the area and decided to eat our picnic lunch which we had bought at a market earlier in a garden park along with other people doing the same. Afterwards we went back down to the Giraldo Square and headed for the Church of St. Francis and the Chapel of Bones.

In the Chapel are a grotesque collection of 5000 skulls and bones which had been dug up by three monks in the 1500’s. Supposedly it was so that the people of then wealthy Evora could ‘reflex on the transience of material things in the undeniable presence of death’. It is a macabre sight.

We then decided to follow the route of the aqueduct. We walked along the street where the houses had been built into the aqueduct structure until it got past the city walls. We went into this area and took pictures of the aqueduct and then headed back to Giraldo square where we had some refreshments and ‘people watched’. We then headed back to our hotel walking down the Rua dos Mercadores in the former Jewish quarter. We stopped at the house No. 65 which Carmen Balastero had determined the markings on the mantel were the remains of where a Mezuzah had been and a cross carved over it. She did a lot of her research from the records of the Inquisition which are stored in the Cathederal and Museum. We took pictures of the house and door and continued on to our hotel.

There was a German tour group at our hotel. Some of them were swimming in the pool. We decided to sit out by the pool and watch them in the cold water.
In the evening we went back up to Mr. Pickwick Restaurant for dinner.

Friday morning, after breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed north along the eastern coast of Purtugal toward the town of Castelo de Vide. About 5 miles south of Castelo de Vide we stopped at the site of a small Roman excavation, named Cidade Romana de Ammaia. The remains included parts of a bathhouse, forum and temple. There was also a small museum. The museum was built over and included the kitchen and basement of an ancient Roman house. Only about 5% of the remains have been excavated.

We then continued on to our hotel, the Sol e Serra in Castelo de Vide. Portugal seems to be well known for its golf courses. This hotel was near one and it had pictures and advertising about golf courses.

Castelo de Vide has a XV Century Synagogue and adjacent school. We went to the medieval Judaria and followed the signs pointing to the Synagogue. It was being remodeled and had a barricade around it. We went into the room that had the tabernacle and took some pictures. Two nosy ladies saw us go past the barricade and started yelling for us to get out; the workmen heard them and we had to leave because they were afraid we would get hurt. We let the ladies know what we thought of them in no uncertain terms. We did accomplish the photographing of the room. Also in the area there was a Rabbi’s home and an oven used for baking. They were not marked on our map so we did not find them. Along the maze of streets we did find the ancient water fountain which the Jewish community had built.

Saturday morning we set out for a town named Valencia de Alcantara just across the border in Spain. This is where the marriage of King Manuel of Portugal and the Spanish Princess Isabella took place in 1497 which lead to the forced conversions of all of Portugal’s Jews. We were surprised that there were no border guards to check us as we crossed the border, but we were told later that with the EU countries most have open borders. It was a nice town, the main street was lined with orange trees.

Here in this town a Synagogue has been restored. The tourist office was closed so we decided to locate the Synagogue on our own. Someone in the area pointed in the direction and we found a tour group at the Synagogue. They let us join them and we took pictures. The group left but one of the guides stayed and allowed us to take as many photos as we wanted before she locked the building. We caught up with the group. The tour was in Spanish but we did pretty good understanding about the sights in the Jewish area she referred to. The group went back to the tour office that housed a small museum. We got some pamphlets on the Synagogue and the area.

On the way back to Portugal we found a picnic area and ate our lunch. Before getting to Castelo de Vide we stopped at a small village named Marvao. In the guide book it was described as be very picturesque, but we did not find it too ‘exciting’. We continued on to our hotel.

We walked back to the Synagogue thinking we could get in but the workman were still working Saturday afternoon, so we left happy with the pictures we had gotten the day before. We walked around the town square and stopped at a sidewalk café and got some dessert and drinks. We stayed there quite a while and watched the people.

We looked around at a few restaurants but decided to eat at the one in our hotel. There was a tour staying at the hotel so there were quite a number of people in the restaurant.

The next morning, Sunday, we checked out and headed to a town named Covilha. It is the ‘entrance’ to the Serra da Estrela mountain range, the 6,000 foot peaks are the tallest in Portugal. In the summer hikers and picnickers are all over the hillsides. In the winter the town is used by skiers as a base for trips to the slopes.

Covilha has a Kosher Winery and a museum which had been a XVIII Century Woolen-textile factory, accidentally discovered during enlargement of the adjacent University. This industry was one of the professions dominated by the Jews in this area; also at the University of Beira a center of Jewish Studies program has been started to research the Jewish history of the region. We did not get to the winery or museum because it was Sunday and everything was closed.

Instead of going directly to Belmonte, our next stop, we decided to take the scenic route through the mountains. We did not know the direction to the road we needed so we asked at a police substation. An officer got in his patrol car and told us to follow, and he took us to the road leading through the mountains; we thought that was pretty nice.

We headed for the town of Caldss de Monteigas which was at the peak. We had to stop twice; once for a group of long distance bikers and the second time for a group of joggers. Both groups seemed to be in some kind of marathon. It was interesting with all the by-standers watching and cheering. At Caldas de Monteigas we got out of the car to take some pictures of the view (along with other people). We did not realize how cold it was until we got out. It was 4.5 degrees C (about 39 degrees F); and windy. We quickly got back into our car. The drive through the mountains was really nice.

When we got to Belmonte the Pousada we were staying in was on the far side of town at the outskirts. We kept asking directions until finally we found it. It was worth the search; the Pousadas are usually convents, or castles or palaces which the government has made in first class hotels.

After checking in and eating lunch we headed back into the town of Belmonte. It is the home to about 125 families who had been forcibly converted in 1497, but through 500 years maintained some semblance of their Judaism. They would openly be Catholic but in private they maintained their Jewish Religion. In 1974 when the dictator Salazar was overthrown and a democracy was established they came out into the open and have built an orthodox Synagogue. We visited the Synagogue and the President of the Congregation gave us a tour of the building including their Mikvah and Kosher kitchen. Many of them do not know Hebrew, they conduct their services in Portuguese. We were fascinated by this group of people, thinking they were the only remaining Jews, stayed together and maintained their beliefs. They comprise about 10% of the Belmonte population of 2,000 people.

In addition to the Synagogue they have a very nice museum built in 2002 with many old family treasures on display. They also have a display listing those who were killed by the Inquisition; listing their names and ages and their date of death, and whatever other information was available. We bought some items in the Synagogue and Museum which had been made by the local people.

Nearby, is the large Cabral Castle where Pedro Cabral, the discoverer of Brazil was born. His tomb is just below the walls. The Castle has been restored and is equipped with a bar and modern amphitheatre for outdoor concerts during the summer. In the gift shop we found some Challah covers made by the Belmonte Jewish Community.

Late in the evening, we went back to the Pousada. The dinner we ate was the best we had eaten in Portugal. The Pousadas are known for their good food.

The next morning, Monday, we bid Belmonte farewell and headed further north to a town named Guarda. At the tourist office we got a local map, the lady in the office marked the area that had been the Judiaria. She said they only know of the area but nothing remains to indicate any Jewish presence. It was kind of cold and windy (it had been almost 90 degrees in Lisbon), so we decided to forgo Guarda and go to a town named Trancoso. Trancoso is a walled village with a gigantic entrance arch. We parked outside the entrance and after getting a map from the tourist office we walked through the village. Before the forced conversions Trancoso had a sizeable Jewish population. In the old Jewish area a lot of the houses had two entrances; one was a large door and the other a smaller door, the large door would lead into the store area and the smaller door would lead into the living quarters. This way they had their business and home in one building.

We also located a building with a large Lion of Judah above the entrance and two other protrusions indicating the gates of Jerusalem. This was thought to have been the home of the Rabbi.

We found a nice café and had a good lunch before leaving Trancoso and heading west to Porto, the home of Port wine, several hours away. We usually like to travel on the scenic roads but being that Porto is on the western coast of Portugal we decided to take a main highway.

I had gotten an email from our hotel in Porto giving us directions as to how to get to the hotel. The directions were good, except they stopped about two blocks before our destination. After coming around twice we asked someone and they pointed out the hotel. The Hotel Bolsa was a great location, but the room was a little drab; all the other facilities and desk clerk were very good.

I had the name and phone number of the Rabbi at the almost 100 year old Kadoorie Synagogue in Porto; I phoned and asked if we could come Tuesday and get a tour of the Synagogue, but he was going to be out of town and told us to come over now as he was teaching a class later that evening. We cleaned up and called a taxi and went to the Synagogue. There is an iron fence around the premises and they have a guard dog at night. The caretaker, who let us in, told us that this was necessary because vandals would write graffiti on the building. This graffiti writing on buildings seems to be prevalent in Lisbon and Porto, it is not a sign of anti-Semitism; as a matter of fact, we were told that Portugal has the least amount of anti-semitism of any country in Europe.

We were allowed to take pictures and wonder through the building. It has a beautiful interior. It was financed and built in 1927 by the Kadoorie family; the elder Kadoorie’s wife came from Porto. There is also a small museum in part of the building. The Rabbi is a young man from Italy. He has about 40 families in Porto who attend services; tonight he was having a class for several people in the process of converting. It has been estimated that at least about 10% of Portugal’s population of 10,000,000 people are descendants of Jews who were forced to convert. We then called a taxi and went back to our hotel.

We walked around the area and luckily came across a very nice restaurant. After dinner (about 10:p.m.) we did some window shopping and headed back to the hotel.

Tuesday morning we boarded a double-decker tour bus which was to go through the historic areas and along the river. We had English language earphones and had the privilege of getting off and on where we wanted. The tour wasn’t anything special, so when it crossed the river where the wineries were located we decided to get off. We stopped at several places looking for Kosher wine but found none. We went into the Croft Winery which had been in business since 1737 to look around and a young lady told us that she was starting a tour in English and we could join. We had an explanation of the types of grapes and where they are grown and harvested for wine making. She took us through their wine storage areas and into the area where they store their old, old, wine. We ended up in their display room and each of us, about 8 couples, were given samples of white and red wine to taste. Before we left we bought 2 little 3 packs of their wine to bring back with us.

In addition to the wineries there were gift shops and outdoor restaurants on both sides of the river. We walked around and then crossed the river at a nearby bridge and found an outdoor restaurant we liked and had a cheese sandwich for lunch. We took pictures of the sights and headed back to the hotel because it was getting late in the afternoon and we wanted to rest after being out all day.

That evening we went back down to the river front, about 5 blocks from our hotel.
There were a lot of people there walking and sitting at the outdoor restaurants eating dinner. We found a nice restaurant and instead of sitting outside we went in and they seated us upstairs at a large window facing the river; it was nice. We had a good dinner and then walked around a little more and called it a night.

Wednesday morning May 16 we left Porto and headed south toward the university city of Coimbra. At one time Coimbra was the Capital of Portugal until replaced by Lisbon. The University founded in 1290 is the oldest in Portugal. At the tourist information office we got a map of the area and instead of sticking with the old lower city with all its small stores and cafes and ancient streets which we enjoy we took a bus to the upper city where the University is located. We looked around there awhile and decided to work our way back down.

Walking down a sloping sidewalk Toots slipped and seemingly sprained her ankle. We got an elastic bandage from a nearby pharmacy wrapped it and ‘gingerly’ continued on our trek down to the lower area not learning she had broken her ankle until we got back to Houston and had it x-rayed. We found a little shop that sold some plates hand painted in Portugal so we bought several to bring back as gifts. On the main road down we did a little window shopping and took pictures of the area. We stopped for lunch at an outdoor café and then walked to our car.

The hotel we were staying at, the Posauda Santa Christina was a few miles south of Coimbra near an ancient Roman town that had been excavated, named Conimbriga. Conimbriga is by far the most important Roman site in Portugal.
When we arrived at the Posauda we got a bucket of ice and made an ice pack to put around the ankle to keep down the swelling. We were going to watch TV but found they had no English channels except CNN sports. I went to the desk to see about using the internet to check emails but they had no computer I could use, so went back to the room. We were to stay here two nights, but decided being that they did not have the facilities we wanted we would only stay one night. Looking in our travel guide we found a nice hotel in the next town we were going to visit, Tomar, so we made reservations there for Thursday night.

Toots took a couple of Advil and after awhile was able to walk better. We walked around the grounds of the Pousada, which was a converted monastery. The room we had was ‘Friar Gabriel’. We went to dinner and walked a little more and
Finally watched an English language movie with Portugese sub titles for awhile.

We checked out of the Pousada after breakfast and headed to Conimbriga site. It took about an hour to go through the area and see what has been excavated. There were public hot baths, rooms with mosaic floors, the forum and temple, pools, an aqueduct with stores nearby and a complete house which is covered to protect some of the flooring. There is also a museum on the grounds housing some exceptional finds from the excavations. We walked slowly and carefully but Toots did good with the help of the Advil. The excavation was very impressive. We had an English language map and guide and the various sites were well marked.

About noon we continued on to Tomar about 30 miles away, but we accidentally missed our turnoff and had to come back around. In Tomar we checked into the Hotel dos Templarios. Located in the center of town, it is a large modern hotel overlooking the river. It was nice!!!!!!

Our purpose for coming to Tomar was to visit an ancient XV century Jewish synagogue & mikveh, one of two in Portugal; the other being the one in Castelo da Vide which is being refurbished. Now, the synagogue building houses the Abraham Zacuto Portuguese Jewish Museum. Abraham Zacuto was a mathematician who devised the mathematical tables used by Portuguese navigators during the early 16th century.

The synagogue is a square room, each wall being about 24 feet; and the ceiling is held up by four pillars which symbolize the four matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. Across the ceiling and resting on the pillars are 12 pointed arches thought to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

The four upper corners of the room contain clay jars in the walls upside down, a method used during the Middle Ages to improve the acoustics. Around the perimeter of the room are various archeological findings attesting to the Jewish presence in Portugal during the Middle Ages; such as a partial tomb stone, a stone dated 1307 from the former main synagogue of Lisbon, and a 13th century inscription from Belmonte, in addition to old stone carvings of the original building.

There are several Torahs in a cupboard and a bimah in the middle of the room with chairs facing it. These are modern additons as services on a regular basis are not held here.

A French tour group had arrived just before us, so the lady in the Synagogue was giving them a talk on the history of the Synagogue and the Jewish community that had been, there are now 2 Jewish families still living in Tomar. After they left she answered our questions in English. There was a young French couple with a baby who remained so we all took pictures of everything.

We had taken a taxi because of Toot’s ankle, so walked several doors down to a little café to get a drink and ask if he would call a taxi for us to return to the hotel.
He did not have a taxi phone number so he called upstairs across the narrow street and an elderly couple came out on their porch and he asked them to call a taxi. I saw that the lady was wearing a Star of David. They came down to the street and asked if we were Jewish; and told us they had lived in Tomar for 34 years and he was the guide at the Synagogue, but today was his day off. It was interesting meeting them.

The taxi took us back to the hotel. Being that we were not too mobile we decided to sit in the fancy lobby and watch all the people for awhile before going back up to our room. We took some pictures from our balcony of the city and river scenery.

We had been having dinner anywhere from 8-9 at night, but when we came down about 7:30 we saw a number of people in the dining area, so we decided to eat. The food was very good and well presented. We enjoyed the meal and the large apple shtrudel with ice cream which we shared.

All in all it turned out to be a nice day, and we were glad we came to this hotel instead of spending a second night in the Pousada.

Friday morning we reluctantly checked out of our hotel and headed back toward Lisbon. We had located a hotel near the Synagogue in Lisbon because we planned on going to services that evening. We checked into our hotel The Fenix about noon. We had a little lunch and decided to walk around to the Synagogue. When we got near we asked someone as to where the address was located because we did not want to walk too much. He pointed out an iron gate and said it was behind it. It seems that when the Shaare Tikvah Synagogue was built in the early 1900’s the government allowed only Catholic places of worship to face the street, so the Synagogue is at an angle and set back a few feet.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at an internet café and I checked our emails; we then walked back to the hotel. On Saturday we wanted to go west from Lisbon along the River and the Atlantic Ocean along the beachs and through some areas that are real touristic. The doorman at the hotel got some maps for us and pointed out several areas to visit.

Back in our room we contacted Continental Airlines and learned that our upgrade to business/first class had been approved between Lisbon and Newark, so we were happy about that; it puts you in a different world on the plane.

Just before 8P.M. we got a taxi to go to the Synagogue. Even though it was just a few blocks away we decided it better that Toots not walk. There were about 25 men and 10 women (sitting upstairs). The services were in the Sephardic method where the reader reads out loud and the congregation joins in. The reader had a nice voice and could be followed in the Siddur. After going to so many places the past two weeks and seeing what ‘had been’ it was inspiring to be in an active, vibrant Synagogue. It was a good way to finish the trip. A man who seemed to be a leader of the congregation asked if we had a place to dine and we told him yes, not wanting to impose or go into the ‘unknown’.

Saturday morning after breakfast, armed with our map and information we headed west for the coast and beaches. We drove along the beach area and decided to stop at Estoril to walk along the sand and take some pictures. There were a lot people in the area. We then continued along and after stopping at several places for viewing and picture taking we went to the site that is the most westernly point in Europe. It was very cold and windy; the temperature was about 50 but the wind made it feel like 35-40. The town of Sintra is inland and to reach it we drove through the Sintra-Cascais National Park, a very picturesque and rugged area. After reaching Sintra we took a southerly road that took us back down to the water.

We stopped at a place along the beach and decided to have lunch. We ate and watched the people sunbathe and going into the Ocean. When a big wave would come in they would dive into it; and several had surf boards to ride back in on the waves. There were whole families on the beach taking in the Sun.

We had left out about 8:30 in the morning and did not get back to the hotel until after 5 P.M. We had a full day.

Later, we cleaned up and went to a restaurant recommended by the hotel, but when we got there it did not appeal to us, so we left and headed toward the area where we had been told there were other restaurants. We found an Italian restaurant which was very nice and a good place to spend our last evening in Portugal.

Sunday morning we got up about 6 A. M. and checked out of the hotel and headed to the airport. Our flight took off about 10:15 to Newark, N.J where we would connect to Houston and home. Being in first class made all the difference and was like adding cream to strawberries.

Several years ago when we were in Spain the only remains of the ancient Jewish existence we found were in Toledo other than some on the East coast of Spain. We found in Portugal every town we went to (and many we didn’t get to go to) have their Jewish areas marked and in many cases some indication of Jewish artifacts. We were told though by people we met that the government is reluctant to vigorously uncover and mark areas for various reasons, one is that they may not want to admit their violent past. Hopefully action will be taken to locate and mark the many sites from the ancient Jewish community.

We enjoyed the trip and are happy to be home, broken ankle and all.