PORTUGAL , southwesternmost country of continental Europe, in the Iberian Peninsula. Jewish settlement in the area began prior to Portugal's emergence as a nation. The existence of a significant Jewish settlement on the peninsula by 300 c.e. is apparent from the edicts of *Elvira which proscribe "taking food with the Jews" and single out the Jewish group in a number of dicta. A tradition among the Sephardi Jews ascribes their arrival in Iberia to Roman times, in the wake of the destruction of the Temple in 70 c.e. and subsequent dispersion toward Europe. James *Finn endeavored to make a case for dating the initial Jewish involvement in the area as early as 900 b.c.e., based on reports of two ancient Hebrew inscriptions, one mentioning *Amaziah, king of Judah, and a second marking the grave of King Solomon's treasurer, *Adoniram.
When Portugal emerged as a distinct national entity under Affonso (Henriques) i (1139–85), a number of wholly Jewish districts existed, including communities in *Lisbon, *Oporto, *Santarém, and *Beja. Affonso employed as his treasurer Yaḥya ibn Ya'ish, thereby initiating the pattern of Portuguese rulers enlisting Jewish talent in the management of affairs of state. Under King Affonso iii (1248–79) Portugal attained total independence and fixed its historic geographic boundaries, and during his reign the classic Portuguese model of Jewish communal life emerged. The crown recognized the Jewish community as a distinct legal entity, headed by the royally appointed *arraby mor. The arraby mor, in turn, named seven *dayyanim, one for each of seven regional centers; Santarém, Oporto, *Moncorvo, *Viseu, *Faro, *Evora, and *Covilhã, each with his own administrative staff to adjudicate both civil and criminal cases. Their decisions were subject to appeal before the arraby mor, who visited the district courts annually for this purpose, accompanied by an *av bet din ("chief justice") and an executive staff. The vast power of the arraby mor was balanced by the right of the people to select the local rabbis – who, however, were paid by the crown and required its confirmation – and to elect the tovei hair (see *Community, *Elders) who directed the daily functions of the community. In the larger towns Jews generally lived together in a juderia (see *Jewish Quarter) such as Oporto's Jews' Hill or Loulé's Jews' Vale.
Portuguese Jewry prospered under these separatist conditions, continuing the attentiveness to learning that marked the peninsula's formative years. The community's autonomy amid officialness was the crucible in which the proud, enduring Portuguese Sephardi heritage was shaped. By the 15th century the Jews were playing a major role in the country's monarchical capitalism, as that economic system has been characterized. The concentration of Jews in Lisbon and other
population centers rendered obvious the group's business success and – as a result of their access to royalty – their disproportionate prominence in society. At the same time, Portuguese Jews were fastidious in loyalty to their faith and reciprocated the distant posture assumed by their devout Catholic neighbors, making way for the suspicions that feed on envy. Furthermore, the independence enjoyed by the Jewish community, in the otherwise Christian state, aroused the ire of the clergy. Their efforts to erode Jewish civil rights were resisted by the cultured King Diniz (1279–1325), who retained the arraby mor Don Judah as his treasurer and reasserted that the Jews need not pay tithes to the church. In any event the Jews were heavily taxed as the price of remaining unmolested, including a special Jews' tax intended to redeem the "accursed state of the race," and a tax based on the number of cattle and fowl slaughtered by the shoḥatim. The unsympathetic Affonso iv (1325–57) increased the direct tax load to bring him an annual state income of about 50,000 livres. He also reinstituted the dormant requirement that Jews wear an identifying yellow *badge, and restricted their freedom to emigrate. The emboldened clergy accused the Jews of spreading the *Black Death in 1350, inciting the populace to action. During the short rule of Pedro i (1357–67) – who employed as his physician the famed Moses *Navarro – the deterioration of the Jewish position was halted. The situation then fluctuated from ruler to ruler until the reign of Affonso v (1438–81), who gave the Jews his conscientious protection, affording them a last peaceful span of existence in Portugal. The general populace was seething with envy and religious hate. In 1449 there occurred a riot against the Jews of Lisbon; many homes were sacked and a number of persons were murdered. Local assemblies in 1451, 1455, 1473, and 1481 demanded that steps be taken to reduce the national prominence of the Jew.
Somehow the Jews of Portugal never considered their predicament as hopeless, and when *Spain expelled its Jews in 1492, some 150,000 fled to nearby Portugal, where both the general and Jewish culture approximated their own (see *Spanish and Portuguese Literature). King John ii (1481–95), eager to augment his treasury, approved their admission. Wealthy families were charged 100 cruzados for the right of permanent residence; craftsmen were admitted with an eye to their potential in military production. R. Isaac *Aboab was permitted to settle with a group of 30 important families at Oporto. The vast majority, however, paid eight cruzados per head for the right to remain in Portugal for up to eight months. When this unhappy group found that a dearth of sailings made their scheduled exit impossible, John ii proclaimed them automatically his slaves. Children were torn from their parents, 700 youths being shipped to the African island of Saõ Tomé (Saint Thomas) in an unsuccessful scheme to populate this wild territory.
With the accession of Emanuel i the Fortunate (1495–1521), the harsh distinctions between the displaced Spanish and the native Portuguese Jews began to be erased, and hopes for a tranquil period were raised. Instead, Emanuel's reign signaled the end of normative Jewish life in Portugal, for within a year of his accession he contracted a marriage with the Spanish princess Isabella – hoping thereby to bring the entire peninsula under a single monarch – and Spanish royalty made its consent dependent on his ridding Portugal of all Jews. Consenting reluctantly, on Dec. 4, 1496, Emanuel ordered that by November of the following year no Jew or Moor should remain in the country. Forthright action was not taken against the Moors, if only because Christians in Moorish lands would then be subject to reprisals. As the departures proceeded Emanuel reconsidered the loss of the Jewish citizenry and the attendant economic losses. He resolved to keep them in the country by turning the Jews into legal Christians. He tried persuasion and torture, but with little success, and the chief rabbi, Simon *Maimi, died resisting conversion. Accordingly on March 19, 1497, all Jewish minors were forcibly baptized and detained, a move that tended to prevent their parents from attempting to flee. The order then went out for all who were still intent on embarkation to assemble at Lisbon. Some 20,000 gathered there, but instead of being evacuated they were ceremonially baptized and declared equal citizens of the realm. Bewildered, these *Conversos cautiously began to emigrate, prompting Emanuel to respond on April 21, 1499, by withholding the right of emigration from the *New Christians, as this new class was officially designated, but technicalities aside, the Portuguese majority continued to regard them as Jews. In the spring of 1506, over 2,000 New Christians were massacred during a Lisbon riot. If the Conversos had had any thoughts of finding solace in the religion thrust upon them, such riots dissuaded them. Consequently even those who were otherwise weak of spirit tended to cling to their God, with the resultant emergence of *Crypto-Judaism, or Marranoism. While attending church and conducting themselves outwardly as Catholics, in secret they maintained Jewish observances, to whatever extent was possible.
As early as 1516 King Emanuel, suspecting that such a situation existed, proposed to Pope *Leo x that an *Inquisition – on the Spanish model – be authorized to ferret out backsliding New Christians. John iii (1521–57) enlisted Enrique *Nuñez, an apostate from the Canary Islands, to mingle with the Marranos and report on their practices. In 1527 Nuñez presented King John with an exposé of Marrano life, appending a list of Crypto-Jews. Popular support for a Portuguese Inquisition surfaced in 1531, when the populace attributed the earthquake of that year to divine retribution for New Christian duplicity. Unable to resist these pressures, Pope Clement vii authorized the Inquisition, with King John's confessor Diogo da Silva as the first inquisitor general. Attempting to counter this, the Marranos dispatched Duarte de *Paz to Rome. Armed with unlimited funds, Paz was to attempt, at the very least, to deny the Inquisition the right to confiscate the property of those condemned, recognizing that this would be an incitement to prosecution. The ensuing diplomatic fray lasted half a century. On April 5, 1533 the Marranos won a suspension of the Inquisition, but on May 23, 1536 it was reauthorized, to be effective three years hence. A first *auto-da-fé took place in Lisbon on Sept. 20, 1540, but in 1544 the Inquisition was again suspended. Finally Emperor *Charles v brought his influence to bear and King John offered the bribe of Viseu's total tax revenue; irrevocable papal consent was given on July 16, 1547. Permanent tribunals were established at Lisbon, Evora, *Coimbra, and in Portugal's Far East outpost *Goa. Ultimately, in 1579, the right to confiscate the culprit's property also accrued to the inquisitors, so that every wealthy Portuguese not certified as pure-blooded (*limpieza de sangre) lived in terror. The Portuguese Inquisition became inspired more by greed than by piety, as Padre Antonio *Vieira charged. Soon the tribunal authorities were able to construct lavish palaces, to proffer large sums to receive condemnatory testimony, and to produce spectacular autos-da-fé, which competed with the bullfights in drawing crowds of tens of thousands. Accused Marranos could escape death by repentantly admitting to Judaizing, but in such an event they would be forced into implicating family and friends, thus providing a spiraling supply of victims. Occasionally even a genuine Christian was martyred for Judaizing, young Don Lope de *Vera y Alarcon (1620–1644) being the most notable example. Crypto-Jews sought precarious safety among the ruling classes and clergy; in time this tendency resulted in a significant percentage of Marrano blood being found within Portugal's ruling circles – as bitterly documented by Mario Saa.
The surest method of evading the Inquisition was to abandon the peninsula, and a constant flow of Conversos escaped – some with daring (see Samuel *Nunez), some with luck – to the communities of the *Marrano Diaspora, where many of them quickly reverted to normative Judaism. Some ex-Marranos, however, such as Spinoza's teacher Juan de *Prado, were not found acceptable by congregational leaders, giving rise to a responsa literature debating the status of the New Christians and ex-Marranos in Jewish law. The leading city of the Portuguese Diaspora was *Amsterdam, with *Salonika ranking first in the Ottoman East, but the former Marranos became ubiquitous in all the Old and New World centers of trade, to the extent that "Portuguese" became synonymous with "Jewish" – much to the consternation of gentile Portuguese travelers. The stream of refugees continued until the end of the inquisitional period. As late as 1795, immigrants to London cited flight from the Inquisition on their aliens' certificates. In 1791 Isaac Lopes Simões fled Lisbon to enter the covenant of Abraham at Bordeaux, France.
The Inquisition was brought to an end during the reign of Joseph Emanuel i (1750–77) through the initiative of Sebastião José de Carvalho ê Mello, Marques de Pombal (1699–1782), who was the power behind the titular monarch. In a series of acts from 1751 to 1774 Pombal deprived the Holy Office of real power, placing it under secular control, and restored the civil rights of the New Christian class, even bullying certified Old Christian families into contracting marriages with New Christians. A last auto-da-fé took place in 1791; on March 31, 1821, the Inquisition was abolished in Portugal. During the nightmare centuries of Portugal's Inquisition, over 40,000 persons were implicated, of whom 30,000 were sentenced at autos-da-fé. A total of 750 of these were staged, at which 29,000 persons were reconciled to the Church, 600 persons burned in effigy, and 1,200 persons burned at the stake. The majority of the victims were accused of Judaizing. The terror that weighed on the Marranos who managed to avoid detection cannot be measured.
Historians writing at the beginning of the 20th century supposed that the last Marranos had by then disappeared. In 1917, however, a mining engineer named Samuel *Schwarz discovered a community of Marranos in the remote northern region near *Belmonte. Apparently they had succeeded in maintaining their identity in the remote mountain areas, marrying among themselves, harboring memories of Jewish observances, being called Jews by their neighbors, and holding to the belief in a single, personal Deity who would redeem His people at the end of days. While Schwarz was publicizing his discovery, a Portuguese hero of Marrano descent, Captain Arturo Carlos de *Barros Basto, openly espoused Judaism and undertook to revitalize the spiritual life of the Marranos. World Jewry took a warm interest in the Barros Basto enterprise, with British Jews taking the lead in a plan to forge a link between the Marranos and the Jewish community that had sprung up in Portugal since the end of the Inquisition.
Jewish settlement in Portugal was renewed around 1800: a corner of the British cemetery in Lisbon contains Hebrew tombstones dating from 1804. The first settlers, who held British nationality, had been buried in a separate plot allotted to them in the English cemetery. Later, in March of 1833, a Portuguese nobleman by the name of António de Castro let to Abraham de José Pariente, at an annual rent of 4,000 reis, a plot of land to serve "as a cemetery for the tenant, Abraham de José Pariente, his descendants, and relatives." It was used as a general Jewish cemetery. By a decree published in 1868, the Jews of Lisbon were permitted to "construct a cemetery for the burial of their coreligionists." Official recognition was not accorded to the Jewish community until 1892, when a decree was published entitling it "to hold religious services, maintain a cemetery for the burial of Jews resident in or in transit through Portugal, to establish funds for the assistance of the poor, and to keep registers of births, deaths, and marriages." After the establishment of the republic by the revolution of Oct. 5, 1910, the government of Portugal approved the community's statute presented to it in 1912. In accordance with the approved statute, the community was authorized to maintain places of worship, a cemetery, and a ḥevra kaddisha, to slaughter in accordance with the Jewish law, to keep registers of births, deaths, and marriages, and to establish charity funds. Beginning in the 1920s, cases of conversion to Catholicism were not infrequent and several families were split into Jewish and Catholic branches. However, after 1950, this tendency declined to a great extent.
At the outbreak of World War ii, Portugal had an organized Jewish community of about 380 Portuguese nationals, in addition to another 650 Jews, many of whom were refugees from Central Europe, who were granted "resident" status. The Jewish community was headed by Moses *Amzalak, a personal friend and associate of President Salazar. After the fall of France, Portugal adopted a most liberal visa policy under which thousands of refugees, including a large proportion of Jews, were allowed to enter the country as immigrants. This policy, however, excluded those of Russian origin or birth. Starting late in 1940, and particularly from the Spring of 1941, Portuguese immigration policy became increasingly stringent as a result of the limited sailings from Portuguese ports. During the second half of the war, Portugal agreed to grant entry visas as part of various rescue operations, on the condition that its territory be used only for transit purposes. For reasons outside Portugal's control, these plans were never realized. During this period, however, Portugal saved all of its 245 Jewish citizens and those Jews in occupied countries to whom it granted consular protection, forcing the Germans to return part of their confiscated property. Portugal joined the other neutral countries in saving Hungarian Jews (see *Hungary, Holocaust) in late 1944, by granting them her protection. Throughout the war Lisbon served as a base for the operations of Jewish organizations in and beyond the Iberian Peninsula.
In 1971 the Jewish community of Portugal consisted of 650 persons, about half of them Sephardim and the others Ashkenazim. Of these, 630 lived in Lisbon, 15 in Oporto, and five in Algarve. Most of the Ashkenazim (mainly of German and Polish origin) took up residence in Portugal after World War ii, with such notable exceptions as Kurt Jacobsohn, the vice rector and the interim rector of Lisbon University, who settled in Portugal in the late 1920s. The majority of the Jews were in the liberal professions, or engaged in business, real estate, construction, and private employment. Several occupied high positions in the academic and medical fields. There were four synagogues in Portugal, one in Lisbon opened in 1902, one in Oporto, built with the assistance of the Portuguese communities in London and Holland and the generous donation of the Kadoorie family, and two private synagogues in Faro, one belonging to Semtob Sequerra and the other to the Amram family. Apart from the Lisbon synagogue, these were seldom frequented. The former community center in Lisbon was used as a prayerhouse by the Ashkenazim.
At the outset of the 21st century about half of Portugal's 600 Jews lived in Lisbon, maintaining two synagogues, a cultural center, and a home for the aged. Most Portuguese Jews came from North Africa. There was also a small number of Ashkenazi Jews, some of whom arrived in the country during World War ii. Their most serious problems were common to other communities, especially the small ones: assimilation and mixed marriages. In certain mountainous regions far to the north, the remaining *Crypto-Jews maintain old customs, ways of praying, and special festivities. They were able to survive thanks to the preservation of their tradition and a high rate of endogamic marriages. In 1917, the community of *Belmonte in the Estrella Mountains was discovered. In 1983, a film was produced about those "judeos" of Belmonte, portraying their fidelity to Jewish customs. Around 100 were living there at the beginning of the 21st century, some of them returning to Orthodox Judaism.
Relations with Israel through the 1960s
Diplomatic relations were not established between Portugal and Israel. In 1958, after diplomatic contacts had been made in other European capitals, Israel established a consulate general in Lisbon on the understanding that this step would be followed by the establishment of full diplomatic relations. The expectation did not materialize, however, probably due to Portugal's fear of Arab reactions. In 1959 an agreement was signed between the Bank of Israel and the Bank of Portugal, and trade relations developed in the 1960s. In 1969 Israel's exports to Portugal amounted to $1,542,000, mainly in cotton and diamonds, and imported commodities reached $297,000, mainly copra and wood. In the United Nations, Portugal usually abstained on issues related to Israel or supported the Arab viewpoint. Israel voted against Portugal several times on questions of colonialism.
After the 1974 Revolution
The troubled period between the outburst of the revolutionary disturbances of April 1974 (the "Carnation Revolution"), and the establishment of a regular constitutional government in 1976 was characterized by a flare-up of extremist and anarchist movements directed against parliamentarian democracy, freedom of speech and free enterprise. As a result, about half of the 600 Jews of Portugal left, migrating to Israel, Brazil, Canada, and the United States, in that order; the 300 who remain reside mostly in Lisbon, with a handful in Oporto.
During the political struggle for power in 1974–76, accusations of "collusion" with Israel with its (then) governing Labor Party were hurled at the leadership of the Portuguese Socialist Party (ps) led by Dr. Mario Soares by its Communist and leftist opponents. The mrpp, a Maoist militant party, gave its agitation a "Jewish" slant; its organization in the Beira Baixa province, where several thousand Marranos lived, waged its political campaign under the slogan "Hitler killed your brethren, do not back Fascism and reaction." But they gained no support whatsoever in the region.
With the end of Portuguese rule in Angola and Mozambique, the few Jews resident there emigrated to Brazil and South Africa. All the institutions of the Lisbon community still function, including two synagogues, a Jewish cultural center, a kosher butcher, a special slaughterhouse, and a home for the aged.
The Soares government established diplomatic relations on ambassadorial level with Israel at the beginning of 1977, after a successful exploratory mission to Jerusalem headed by Jaime Gama, future minister of the interior of Portugal. The chairman of the Portuguese parliament, Salgado Zenha, who visited Israel as an official guest of the Israeli Labor Party, was also warmly received by the representatives of all the political parties in Israel. As a result, an Israeli embassy was established in Lisbon, the first ambassador being Ephraim Eldar. But anti-Israeli tendencies, embodied mainly in circles having commercial relations with Arab countries, and in the Supreme Revolutionary Council, where the former Foreign Minister, Major Melo Antunes, exercised a dominant influence, prevented the opening of a Portuguese embassy in Israel.
The cultural and economic links between Portugal and Israel were noticeably strengthened. Israeli specialists in agriculture and fisheries (mainly experts in the raising of freshwater carp in artificial ponds) worked in Portuguese villages; the Gulbenkian Foundation, the main scientific and cultural institution of Portugal, granted scholarships to Israeli scientists.
In 1978 Israel's exports to Portugal amounted to $21.6 million (mainly machinery, chemicals, medicaments, textiles), a nearly twenty-fold increase over the 1969 figures. The value of imports from Portugal reached $9.4 million (raw materials, especially wood), a 31-fold increase over 1969. In 1980 the sums were $61 million and $16.1 million, respectively, and in 2004, $76.1 million and $70.1 million.
During the early 1980s there was a considerable increase in cultural exchange between Portugal and Israel. The Institutos de Relacioes Culturais Portugal-Israel (Institutes for Portuguese-Israel Cultural Relations) was active in Porto and Guarda. In 1983, the Mayor of Lisbon, Nuno Kruz Abecassi, visited Israel to participate in the Fourth Jerusalem Conference of Mayors. Dr. Jorge Sampaio, who visited Israel twice as mayor of Lisbon, has served as president of Portugal since 1996. His maternal grandmother was from a Moroccan Jewish family. His cousin is president of the Lisbon Jewish community.
[Jose Luis Nachenson and
Noemi Hervits de Najenson]
A. Herculano de Carvalho e Araujo, History of the Origin and Establishment of the Inquisition in Portugal, tr. by J.C. Branner (1926); I.M. Ford (ed.), Letters of John iii, King of Portugal, 1521–1557 (1931), introd. in Eng., letters in Portuguese; H.V. Livermore, A History of Portugal (1947), index s.v.Jews; M.A. Cohen, Samuel Usque's Consolation for the Tribulations of Israel (1965), introd.; C.R. Boxer, Four Centuries of Portuguese Expansion, 1415–1825 (1969), 47f. 52; Baron, Social, 13 (1969), 44–158; Graetz, Hist, index; E.N. Adler, in: jqr, 15 (1902/03), 413–39; The American Sephardi, 4, no. 1–2 (Autumn 1970); J. Mendes dos Remedios, Os Judeus em Portugal, 2 vols. (1895); A. Novinsky and A. Paulo, in: Commentary (May 1967), 76–81; M. Kayserling, Geschichte der Juden in Portugal (1867); A. Baião, Episodios dramáticos da inquisação portuguesa, 2 vols. (1919–24); J. Lucio d'Azevedo, Historia dos Christaos Novos Portugueses (1921); S. Schwarz, Inscrições hebraicas em Portugal (1923); idem, Os Cristãos-novos em Portugal no seculo xx (1925); A.C. de Barros Basto, Os Judeus no velho Porto (1929); N. Slouschz, Ha-Anusim be-Portugal (1932); E.H. Lindo, History of the Jews of Spain and Portugal (1970). add. bibliography: M.J.P. Ferro Tavares, Os judeus em Portugal no século xiv, (1970); idem, Os judeus em Portugal no século xv, 2 vols. (19882–4); idem, Judaismo e Inquisição; estudos, (1987); I.S. Révah, in: Annuaire (École pratique des hautes étudeas, ive section: Sciences historiques) (1970–71), 469-–84; (1971–72), 423–31; A. Novinsky, Cristãos novos na Bahia, (1972), 3–22, 23–55; idem, Inquisição i: inventários de bens confiscados a cristãos novos (1976); idem, in: Sefárdica, 2 (1984), 51–68; I. Steinhardt, in: Língua cultura, 2 (1972), 131–41; H.P. Salomon, Novos pontos de vista sobre a Inquisição em Portugal (1976); idem, in: Arquivos do Centro Cultural Portugués, 17 (1982), 41–64; F.E. Talmage, in: Association for Jewish Studies Newsletter, 13 (Feb. 1975), 13–15; F.E. Talmage and E. Vieira (eds. & trans.), The Mirror of the New Christians (Espelho de cristãos novos) by F. Machado (1977); G. Nahon, in: Annuaire (École pratique deshautes études, Ve section: Sciences religieuses), 88 (1979–80), 258–70; 90 (1981–82), 260–1; C.A. Hanson, Economy and Society in Baroque Portugal, 1668–1703, (1981), 70–107; P. Gomes, A filosofia hebraico-portuguesa (1981); E. Lipiner, Santa Inquisição, terror e linguagem, (1977); idem, O tempo dos judeus, Segundo as Ordenções do reino, (1982); idem, in: Y. Kaplan (ed.), Jews and Conversos; Studies in Society and the Inquisition (1985), 124–38 (in Portuguese); E.C. de A. Mea, in: ibid., 149–78; H.B. Moreno, in: ibid., 62–73; idem, in: Ler história, 3 (1984), 3–11; idem, in: Revista altitude, 2. sér., ano iv, 9–10 (1983–84), 49–53; L.R. Torgal, Revista Altitude, 2. sér., ano ii, 4 (dez. 1981), 5–15; A. Paulo, Os judeus secretos em Portugal (1985); A.Y.M. Levin (ed.), in: Oraita, 15 (1986), 27–43 (Heb.); E.C. de A. Mea, in: Revista de Facudade de Letras: História, 2. sér., 4 (1987), 151–77; E. Samuel, in: R.D. Barnett and W.M. Schwab (eds.), The Sephardi Heritage, vol. 2, The Western Sephardim (1989), 100–4; J.M. Abecassis, Genealogia hebraica: Portugal e Gibraltar, sécs. xvii a xx (1990–1), 5 vols.
"Portugal." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/portugal
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