Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Belmonte (W)

Sinagoge, BelmonteThis is the first place in Portugal where Crypto-Jews actually “came out of the closet” and returned to normative Judaism. Their story is amazing: defying close to 400 years of Inquisition, hardship, danger of death by burning and betrayal by neighbors, pretending to be Catholic by attending church, they secretly remained loyal to the God of Israel.  Completely isolated from the rest of the Jewish world, they believed all this time that they were the only Jews to survive the Inquisition.

In 1987 they celebrated Shabbat openly for the first time in modern history.  The town’s modern synagogue was opened in 1996, followed by a Jewish cemetery six years later.  In 2005 the Museu Judaico de Belmonte (Jewish Museum) was created.  Its exhibit illustrates the history and culture of Portuguese Jews as well as general Jewish religious practices and customs.


Jewish Belmonte