Jewish Lisbon identity.

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Jewish History in Lisbon:

Jewish heritage is part of Lisbon’s identity.
In the Middle Ages, Jews played an important role in the administration of the kingdom, in urban evolution and in the commercial business of the city. Lisbon had four Jewish Quarters and many families lived outside the areas assigned to the Jews, a sign of the population dimension that the community reached in the 15th century.

Most people do not know that the Greater Jewish Quarter of Lisbon was located in Baixa area. After the conquest, Christian Lisbon maintained neighbourhoods where mostly people of other religions lived. In addition to the Mouraria (Moors), which still exists today, Lisbon had at least four Jewish quarters. However over the centuries they have lived almost side by side, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century.

The Jewish Lisbon history, shows us that the jewries occupied a privileged area in the city space. Present throughout the kingdom, Jews achieved significant economic, social, fiscal and cultural relevance. Usually associated with the urban environment, they settled in areas of strong identity. The Jewries or, more simply, the Jewish quarters or Jewish streets. But the area reserved for the Jewish minority in urban Lisbon tended to take on great resemblance. Stemming from similar choices as to its locations and orientations.

In conclusion Jewish Quarter means a street or several houses where Jews lived. In the early days of the monarchy Jews lived in Lisbon mixed with Christians. Although in some areas they have had neighbourhoods of their own.

Jewries organization

All these gatherings, that is, the Lisbon Jewish quarters, obey the curfew and, to the sound of the Ave-Marias (18:00 hours). So after that Jewries gates were closed to prevent the coexistence between Jews and Christians in Lisbon. Consequently the legislation was very strict regarding the displacement of Jews outside the communes at night. As a result of this at nightfall in Lisbon all Jewish Quarters gates were closed. So, if the Jew could not enter in time, he should sleep in a guesthouse with other men. This is a fact that confirms the reason why a Jewish women were not away from the commune at night. If a Jew had to go out at night for a great need, he must be with a Christian.

Portugal Open to Citizenship Applications by Descendants of Sephardic Jews

Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest quarter was once a Jewish neighborhood. Along, Rua da Judiaria, is still visible where was located the Synagogue as well as the Rabbi house. These are some of the few remains of Alfama Jewish past. Jews have lived in this Lisbon area until it’s expulsion in 1496.

Portugal’s Jewish Identity

Portugal – visiting Belmontes new-old Jewish community

Portugal Jewish history

Portuguese Jewish history reaches back over 2.000 years ago. Jewish populations have existed in the area before Portugal became a nation, back to the Roman era.

In Portugal Jewish history, since ancient times, there were Jews. Unlike what happened in other European countries, here they found some balance and peace. Some of our Kings provided them social and economic prosperity in return of services to the Portuguese Crown. Off course they have had violent episodes such as massacres and prohibitions from the Inquisition period. Some of this episodes were the forced conversions to other religions. But, the most important prohibition of all was the fact that they couldn’t position themselves as Jewish.

Portuguese Jewish Culture In the North center area of Portugal named by Beiras is the region that Jews have lived as communities. Here they stayed for hundreds of years practicing their religion and culture in secrecy. These secret communities have created a unique Hebrew culture that would become the Crypto-Judaism. The Portuguese Jewish Culture. This phenomenon of Crypto-Jews will remain until the twentieth century. The Jewish legacy left by this people in this region is undeniable and part of Portugal’s history. From Jewish typical products, buildings and old traditions there is a Jewish historical legacy as a testimony of Portugal Jewish history. This Jewish identity is still visible in Portugal in the present days.

Jewish Portugal, the Crypto-Jew Heritage
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Jews and New Christians

Jews in Portugal as well New Christians are a prove in this ancient region by the high number of cruciform inscriptions. This is a testemony of their “Christianization” in Portugal and Jewish identity.

Different sets of houses stand out from the main churches, dating from the 15th-16th century. Inside the one closest to the Catholic temple we can find a Hekhal or Aron-ah-Kodesh (Law Cabinet) adapted by the Jews in Portugal.

Some types of cruciformes are for example, a fact of Jewish presence in different urban groups. But however, the Latin Cross, has a double interpretation in it’s decoration – Jewish and Catholic.  In adition and consequently, the Star of David can be seen in manor and emblazoned houses, bridges and fountains of medieval architecture.