views updated


TOMAR (formerly Thomar ), city in central Portugal. The earliest record of Tomar Jews, a tombstone of a rabbi, Joseph of Thomar, dated 1315, is found in *Faro's Jewish cemetery. A magnificent 15th-century synagogue on Rua de Joaquin Jacinto, referred to in an old document as "Rua Nova que foi judaria," reveals that there was a dynamic Jewish community in Tomar prior to the forced baptisms of 1497. The residents of the judaria, called gente da naçao or "people of the nation," were generally upper-class citizens. An *Inquisition tribunal was established at Tomar in 1540, and the first *auto-da-fé was held on May 6, 1543. After a second auto-dafé, on June 20, 1544, the tribunal was suspended, owing perhaps to the discovery of administrative abuses. It was closed altogether with the publication on July 10, 1548 of a bull of pardon directing the release of all persons then held by the Inquisition.

On July 29, 1921, Tomar's historic synagogue building – which had been confiscated and used by a Christian order throughout the Inquisition period – was declared a national monument by the Portuguese government. In 1922 the antiquarian Samuel *Schwarz took title to the building, establishing there a museum for Judeo-Portuguese artifacts and inscriptions. Named Museu Luso-Hebraico Abraham Zacuto, it contains a good collection of inscriptions from early synagogues, including the notable stone from *Belmonte's 13th-century synagogue inscribed "And the Lord is in His holy Temple, be still before Him all the land," where the Divine Name is represented by three dots, in a manner also found in the *Dead Sea Scrolls.


M. Kayserling, Geschichte der Juden in Portugal (1867), index; Roth, Marranos, 73; F.A. Garcez Teixeira, A Antiga Sinagoga de Tomar (1925); idem, A Familia Camoes em Tomar (1922); S. Schwarz, Inscricões Hebraicas em Portugal (1923); idem, Museo Luso-Hebraico em Tomar (1939); American Sephardi (Autumn 1970).

[Aaron Lichtenstein]