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Schwarz, Samuel


SCHWARZ, SAMUEL (1880–1953), discoverer of 20th century Crypto-Jews. Born in Poland, Schwarz was a mining engineer by profession. In 1915 he moved to Portugal and settled in Lisbon, but his work involved travel through the undeveloped stretches of the country. In 1917, on a surveying trip to remote *Belmonte, on the Spanish border, Schwarz met a group of persons who practiced certain Jewish rituals. They married only among themselves and observed in their own way the Sabbath and the major Jewish festivals. Schwarz identified them as Crypto-Jews or Cristãos-Novos, who were believed to have faded into extinction shortly after the Portuguese *Inquisition was abolished in 1821, but who instead continued to live as *New Christians. Their Jewish observance had suffered considerably from its underground nature and from a lack of formal education and leadership. Schwarz publicized his discovery in the Portuguese review Arqueologia e história (4 (1925) 5–115)) and subsequently in the book Os cristãos-novos em Portugal no século xx (1925). At about this time Artur Carlos de *Barros Basto, a descendant of New Christians who had achieved importance in Portuguese national life, openly espoused Judaism and vigorously began to organize his fellow New Christians in a return to the Jewish fold. These activities served to underscore the practical aspects of Schwarz's discovery, and considerable interest arose among British Jews toward educating the Portuguese descendants of Crypto-Jews into the mainstream of the faith. Schwarz and Barros Basto did not get along well and mutual antagonism and suspicion characterized their relations.

For a time Schwarz was president of Lisbon's Jewish community. In 1922 he took title to a 15th-century synagogue of *Tomar, opening it as a museum for Portuguese Hebrew inscriptions, called the Museu Luso-Hebráico de Tomar. Schwarz published a study of epitaphs and inscriptions of Portugal's early Jewish inhabitants, Inscriçôes hebráicas em Portugal (1923). He was a member of the Portuguese archaeological society, and a leader of the Portuguese association of Polish nationals.

A Hebrew version of his Os cristãos-novos em Portugal no século XX came out in Jerusalem in 2005. Stuczynski's introduction is the most extensive study of Samuel Schwarz' career.


Roth, Marranos, 363–5; Grande enciclopédia portuguesa e brasileira, 27 (1945?), s.v. (includes complete list of Schwarz's writings). add. bibliography: I. Steinhardt, in: Revista de estudos judaicos, 7 (2004), 64–65; S. Schwarz, The New Christians in Portugal in the 20th Century, trans. into Hebrew with introduction by C.B. Stuczynski (2005), introduction and bibliography, 11–88. Schwarz's writings are listed on pp. 75, 86.

[Aaron Lichtenstein]

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