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Jesurun, Reuel

JESURUN, REUEL

JESURUN, REUEL (formerly Paulo de Pina ; c. 1575–1634), Portuguese Marrano. Born in Lisbon of a *New Christian family, Paulo set out for Rome in 1599, intending to join a Christian order there. En route he called on the Marrano physician Elijah Montalto, a friend of his family residing at Leghorn, Italy. After Montalto had persuaded him to return to Judaism, Paulo went back to Lisbon, embarking for Brazil in 1601 in the company of the confirmed Judaizer Diego Gomez (Abraham Cohen) *Lobato. Moving to *Amsterdam in 1604, he openly espoused Judaism, taking the biblical name Reuel Jesurun. Devoting himself to the Beth Jacob congregation, he served as administrator of the Talmud Torah rabbinical school during 1616. A man of considerable literary talent, he composed Diálogo dos montes (published in 1767), a dramatic poem in praise of Judaism which was first read in the Beth Jacob synagogue on Shavuot 5384 (1624). The poem was translated from Portuguese to English by Philip Polack and appeared in The American Sephardi, vol. 4, nos. 1–2 (Autumn, 1970), 48–88. The Beth Jacob archive contains Jesurun's initial account of Amsterdam's historic Jewish cemetery, which he helped to establish. There he interred his benefactor Elijah Montalto, who had died in 1616 in France and been embalmed by his royal patrons. Jesurun himself died in Altona.

bibliography:

Roth, Marranos, 313–6; J. Meijer, in: esn, s.v.Parnassim; W.C. Pieterse, Livro de Bet Haim do Kahal Kados de Bet Yahacob (1970).

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