Portugal - Simply Jewish

posted 1 Jul 2019, 23:41 by Charles Greene

Portugal - Simply Jewish



Living in Portugal as a Jew was not a receipt one could delight in, but instead a disaster no matter what direction you chose.  

I had the opportunity of visiting Portugal this last month. As a result I had a better perspective of what Jewish life may have been like. Both my wife and I have Sephardic friends whose ancestry originated either in Spain or Portugal and on occasion would learn some interesting aspects of Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula. In the following essay I explore different aspects of living as a Jew in Portugal. I found that it was not that easy to obtain detailed historical information about the Jews of Portugal.  

We started our trip in Porto, one of the main cities in Portugal. The region is famous for its Port wines and beautiful scenery. We were fortunate enough to find accommodations in the very center of the city. We walked each day approximately 12 kilometers, the city is constructed on hills and narrow streets and no matter where you placed your foot, the roads and walkways were strewn with cobble stone.


It is as hard to trace back the arrival of the first Jews in Porto as it is to trace back the foundation of the city. From my research the Romans occupied most of Portugal and then for whatever reason left behind ancient walls and buildings. What we know for sure is that during the High Medieval Ages there were already Jews in Porto, close to the cathedral and inside the primitive walls of the city. It is interesting to note that 30% of Porto comprised of Jews.

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Train Station, Porto


The Jewish community of Porto moved in a circle since the beginning, all the way until the late fifteenth century.

There are some records that prove that the first Jewish community of Porto used to live close to the main cathedral, just around the corner where we were staying. This would be the place where the first Porto’s Jewish quarter was built.

Later on, the community started to move closer to the Douro River, where most of the Jewish businesses were conducted. Then slowly but steadily they started moving West, but always close to the riverside. In fact, there used to exist two Porto’s Jewish quarters at the same time, until the late fourteenth century.

In 210 BC Romans invaded Iberian Peninsula. They left behind fortresses, walls and aqueducts however by the middle of the 3rd century AD the Roman Empire was in decline, in 139 BC Romans defeated by Celtics and in 409 Germanic peoples invaded the Iberian Peninsula. Then a race called the Suevi invaded Portugal. However in the 6th century another race called the Visigoths ruled Spain and they attacked the Suevi. By 585 the Visigoths had conquered the Suevi. The Germanic invaders became the new upper class. They were landowners and warriors who despised trade. Under their rule trade was dominated by the Jews.


In 711 Moors from North Africa invaded the Iberian Peninsula. They quickly conquered what is now southern Portugal and they ruled it for centuries. However they were unable to permanently subdue northern Portugal.

A little Visigothic state let slowly grew in the north. By the 11th century it was known as Portugal. The Counts of Portugal were vassals of the king of Leon but culturally the area was quite different from Leon. In 1095 the king of Leon granted Portugal to his daughter Dona Teresa and her husband. When her husband died Dona Teresa ruled as regent for her son. She married a Galician noble. However the Portuguese nobles were alarmed at the prospect of a union with Galicia. They rebelled and led by her son Dom Alfonso Henriques they defeated Teresa at the battle of Sao Mamede. Afterwards Alfonso Henriques became ruler of Portugal.

Portugal gradually became independent of Leon. By 1140 Alfonso called himself king of Portugal and asserted his country's independence. From 1179 Papal diplomats also called him king. Meanwhile Alfonso set about recapturing territory from the Moors. In 1139 Alfonso defeated the Moors at Ourique.

Meanwhile trade continued to thrive in Portugal. Jews continued to be important in the towns. The first parliament or Cortes met in 1211. At first only clergy and nobility were represented. However King Dinis (1279-1325) allowed the merchant class to have representatives - a sign of their growing importance. From the mid-13th century Lisbon became the capital of Portugal. In 1290 Portugal's first university was founded in Lisbon. (Although it soon moved to Coimbra). Also during the reign of Dinis pine forests were planted and marshland was drained for farming. Agriculture flourished.

However in 1348-49, like the rest of Europe, Portugal was devastated by the Black Death which probably killed one third of the population.

Then in the late 14th century Portugal was drawn into a war. When King Fernando (1367-1383) died his daughter Beatriz became queen. However she was married to Juan of Castile. Some Portuguese feared that Portugal would become united with Castile and cease to be independent. They rose in rebellion. The king of Castile invaded Portugal to support his wife. The war went on for 2 years. Finally the Castilians were routed by a Portuguese army supported by English archers, at the battle of Aljubarrota. Dom Joao then became king and Portugal remained independent.

In 1386 Portugal made an alliance with England. Then in the 15th century Portugal became a great maritime nation. In 1415 the Portuguese captured Ceuta in Morocco. Madeira was discovered in 1419. The Azores followed in 1427.

At that time Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) made navigation into a fine art. He also provided ships and money to Portuguese captains. Portuguese mariners ventured further and further afield. By the time Prince Henry died the Portuguese had sailed as far as Sierra Leone. Then Tangiers was captured in 1471. Finally in 1488 Bartolomeo Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1492 Columbus discovered the West Indies. I have read different sources, some claiming that Columbus was Jewish and he secretly tried to take Jews to other lands to escape the Inquisition. He was able to transport some Jews to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands..


Asia was the source of spices, which were very expensive in Europe. Huge profits could be made by importing spices by sea. At first the Portuguese dominated the spice trade. In 1510 the Portuguese annexed Goa in India. In 1511 they took Malacca in Indonesia. In 1514 they reached China and in 1557 they established a trading post at Macao. The Portuguese also colonized Brazil.

Meanwhile in 1536   the Inquisition was formed in Portugal. The first execution in Portugal took place in 1541. The last was in 1765.

King Sebastiao (1557-1576) led an expedition to Morocco. It ended in complete disaster. Thousands of Portuguese were killed including the king and most of the nobility. Sebastiao was succeeded by Henrique, who died childless. Afterwards King Philip II of Spain claimed the throne of Portugal on the grounds that he was the nephew of King Sebastiao. The Spaniards won the battle of Alcantara and Philip II of Spain became Philip I of Portugal.

From then until 1640 Spain and Portugal shared a monarch. However the union grew gradually less and less popular. In 1640 Portuguese nobles staged a coup in Lisbon. They deposed the governor of Portugal. The Duke of Braganza was made King Joao IV. Spain did not recognize Portuguese independence until 1668 when the treaty of Lisbon was signed. Yet Portugal was declining in the 17th century. In 1600 the Portuguese dominated the spice trade with Asia. However in the 17th century they lost their position to the Dutch.


At the end of the fourteenth century the Jewish community of Porto created a Jewish quarter inside the city walls, under the rule of D. João I.D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, nominated the rabbi Yahia Ben Yahia for the position of Finance Minister of the kingdom. The good relationship between the royal Crown and the Jewish community was kept intact for a period of time. In 1496, that Jews were expelled from Portugal which had a terrible impact in the Portuguese economy and destroyed the Jewish Heritage of Porto.

It wasn’t until the twentieth century that it was during the beginning of a new Jewish community of Porto was born, mostly due to the courage and tenacity of the Captain Barros Basto. This First World War hero not only founded the community but also raised the funds to build a Synagogue in Porto and gather around him dozens of Jewish families. It should be further noted that there are approximately 1000 Jews who live in Portugal today. At this time there is not a Jewish quarter in Porto. It is interesting to note that if you have a conversation with some of the Tour Guides they have little knowledge of Jewish history. I could only imagine that they probably never even seen a Jew.

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Kadoorie Synagogue, Porto


In 1497 the Sephardic Jews of Portugal ceased to exist. They were all ordered to be baptized by the King who promised the ‘New Christians” that there would be no inquiry into their private religious practices for 20 years (later extended). Secretly observing the essential rituals of Judaism, the New Christians maintained their Marrano (secret Jew, in Hebrew, “anousim”, for “forced one”) identity for over 300 years despite relentless persecution by the Inquisition. Thousands were tortured and/or burned alive. The national archives of Portugal, “Torre de Tombo” contains over 40,000 Inquisition files.

In the 1920s, Captain Arthur Carlos de Barros Basto, a decorated Portuguese WW1 veteran who survived gas attacks in Flanders, began a quasi-messianic movement in northern Portugal to “out” Marranos and bring them back to normative Judaism. Basto, a free mason and Republican was informed of his family’s Marrano heritage by his grandfather who announced on his deathbed that he wished to die as a Jew. Basto honored his grandfather’s message for the rest of his life. He taught himself Hebrew, becoming so proficient that he later taught it at the faculty of Arts at the University of Porto where he also conducted original research into Portuguese medieval Jewish history. Later, he traveled to Tangiers to undergo a formal return process to Judaism. Returning to Lisbon, he married the daughter of a prominent Jewish family of that community which initially had rejected him. He then settled down in Porto, near Amarante, his place of birth, to raise a family and start building his dream.

Basto’s mission attracted wide support from Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam, New York, and London (whose ancestors had escaped the clutches of the Inquisition). The London Marranos Committee and the Spanish Portuguese congregation of Bevis Marks, England’s oldest synagogue, provided moral and financial support. Prominent English Jews such as journalist and founder of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Lucien Wolf, Cambridge professor and respected author, Cecil Roth and lawyer Paul Goodman (also president of the London Marranos Committee), became friends and fans. Dr. Rabbi David Sola Pool of New York visited Basto.

Visiting isolated villages and towns, sometime by foot and donkey, the charismatic Captain, dressed in full regalia, convinced thousands of Marranos to give up their syncretism and return openly to the faith of their ancestors. He led the revival of normative rituals and established synagogues in several towns and cities, despite protests from the Catholic Church.

In Porto, a city with a strong mercantile Jewish tradition (birthplace of the world’s first secular Jew, Uriel da Costa, Spinoza’s predecessor) Barros Basto established a yeshiva (theological institute) and founded an instructional Jewish newspaper, “Halapid” (the “Torch”) which he published until 1958. At the height of the depression, with the financial backing of Baron de Rothschild of Paris and the Kadoorie family of Hong Kong, Barros Basto built a magnificent four-story art deco synagogue, which he called the “Cathedral of the North”, a beacon for the downtrodden Marranos. The Kadoorie synagogue of Porto, Hebrew for “font of life was inaugurated in 1938, the same year as Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” when synagogues and Jewish businesses were ransacked Barros helped many families flee the Holocaust.

I had the opportunity to visit Kadoorie synagogue, and spoke to the caretaker who was an Israeli Jew. I asked whether I could go inside the synagogue and take pictures. He informed me that there was construction taking place and would not be safe. I heard the jack hammers and I respected his wishes. He informed me that there were approximately 150 Jews members and that there were two Rabbis who looked after the premises. In addition he informed me that Portugal was the only place throughout Europe that did not harbor-Semitism. Furthermore Kadoorie synagogue was in the process of converting Jews whose great grandparents were converted to Christianity.

Kadoorie Synagogue is approximately 45 minute bus ride outside of the city. The synagogue is located next to Catholic cometary.


We left Porto, picked up my standard vehicle, gear in tow along with our hiking sticks and headed north. The Douro Valley could as easily be called the enchanted valley, such is the beauty and magic that its landscapes offer. I am told that it is more magnificent in the summer when the rolling hills and mountain covered grape vines, beautify the land scape.  Winter still presents a pictures’ view. We walked, should I say mostly uphill for the two days, following a route between the viewpoints offering the best vistas, we crossed the river and back again. But along the way we admired breathtaking landscapes, animals and dancing birds overhead. We visited a few vineyards which are the oldest demarcated wineries in the world and met many people in, towns and villages.


The construction of Christian Portugal led the former Portuguese kings to have contact with the existing Jewish communities, accepting their help (they had a decisive role on King Afonso Henriques’s side when Lisbon was taken from the moors in 1147) and giving them some benefits as a reward for their help in the territory. The communities had spread themselves in such a way that, during the reign of King Dinis (1278 – 1324), there were Jewish communes all over the country. By the end of the 15th century, around 30,000 Jews were living in Portugal. Having mainly urban jobs, they were organized in communes. Socially speaking, they were part, at least, of three important classes: the rich bankers, traders, financiers, physicians and public position holders, a small but economically important and privileged group; the craftsmen and the small traders; and the poor and the indigent, a small minority. All of them were forced to pay very high taxes. Organized around the synagogue, they kept their habits and lived in their own quarters the Judiarias, generally separated from the Christian areas by walls and gates that were closed during the night. 

In the Middle Age, most part of the population of Coimbra lived inside the walls, crowned by a fortress. There were both a Jewish and Muslim Coimbra. Later a new Jewish quarter was established by the new king as a result of the church and the Jews were moved to a swampy area outside of the city. The original Jewish quarter was situated in and near the Santa Cruz parish. I could not take any pictures of the area as the streets are very narrow and the houses are stacked one by one next to each other.  

It was very surprised when I asked locals where the Jewish Fountain in Coimbra was. To be honest I asked people within a hundred yards of the fountain where it was located, and no one was able to even give me directions and even the locals or some of them never heard of the fountain.


Described in 1139 as one of the limits of the Santa Cruz parish, it was probably located at the bottom of the Couraça dos Apóstolos, in the field named “field of the Jewish fountain”, being one of the limits of the Jewish quarter. Later, it had been remodeled and the fountain we see today is of baroque construction, carefully decorated, that was finished in 1725. It had a long inscription about its works, which had been promoted by the King’s Judge, Pedro Rodrigues de Almeida. The stairs surrounding the fountain had been designed by the Architect António Madeira Portugal and were concluded in 1986, when the fountain had been transferred from its original place, behind the Mercado D. Pedro V King Pedro V’s Market Today the market place still sells farm fresh, flowers, vegetables, fruit, fish and meat. We walked through the market on our way to the University.

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Jewish Fountain, Coimbra

Statue of King Henrie, Coimbra University



The Patio of the Inquisition takes its name from the buildings, with historical and architectonic value, where the Inquisition Court had worked after 1548. The houses were facing an interior patio that must have had a garden. Besides the building, that has been the siege of the Inquisition in Coimbra, the patio had also gathered the primitive College of the Arts, a cloister partially limited by 16th century ionic arcades and an interior patio, surrounded by several dependences of the Inquisition: jails, torture rooms and the houses belonging to the Inquisitors. The jails can now be seen through the thick glass. They still keep a beauty that can be seen in the old bricks used in the ovens, in the big arches of the medium floor, or in a narrow vault that we can see in a high room and that is followed by another one, in a lower and smaller room. In one of the small rooms, you can still find a painting that is what remains of an old fresco. With an indelible dark drawing, it shows simplified vegetal ornaments, a kind of embroidery. Before the Patio being abandoned, its houses had been used, during the first republic, as horse stables by the National Guards. They have left the sign of their passage on a graffiti, an influence of the Phrygian cap. On the noble floor, yod can read, on one of the walls: Liberdade Egualdade  Fraternidade (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity). The building is remarkable, not only because of its primitive architecture, but also because of the many restorations it has had, including the one that the Architect João Mendes Ribeiro had made to adapt the building to welcome the Encontros de Fotografia (Photography Meetings). Many people both Jew and non-Jew were burnt alive in the square in Coimbra.


The University was one of the highlights of our trip. Located high on a hill overlooking the city. I read that records were kept in the Coimbra library of the names of individuals that were either executed, left Portugal or were converted to the New Christians (Morranos) other copies are kept in Lisbon, these records could be reviewed by anyone. 

Founded in Lisbon, in 1290, the university was transferred to the Royal Palace of Coimbra in 1537, during the reign of King John III. In the same period, the studies had been reformed and the university had received new Portuguese and foreigner teachers. New ways of teaching and new scientific subjects were transmitted, mainly thanks to the “estrangeirados” (the Portuguese who had travelled to other countries, getting different knowledges). But this knowledge could also be reached through the Jewish the New Christian teachers who had developed and transmitted in this University, one of the oldest in Europe, important scientific studies in several different fields like medicine, exact sciences and botany. These characteristics had transformed the University in a “free-thought” center, which represented a threat to the union defended by the kingdom, concerning faith, cultural and religious politics. Anything against the Council of Trent was condemned and many teachers had been persecuted, accused of homosexuality or immorality, blasphemies against the religion, Protestantism and Judaism. Many of them had been arrested, condemned or forced to leave their jobs. Very few changes had been accepted in schools and the University had stopped its own evolution. Old methods were still used and any scientific or cultural progress was just not accepted. From those who had fought against the organized censure, very few had gone beyond the empiricism, transforming it in a clear scientific attitude.

After spending a few days In Coimbra and walking throughout the city from one end to the other, we were on our way to Cascais. The famous Portuguese resort. I remember hearing about Cascais as my Nephew a Canadian Olympic Sailor spent many summers sailing from the Yacht Club. On occasion when my daughter worked in Switzerland for Nestles in research, she would visit him and members of the World sailing teams.  My hotel was situated on the ocean next to the club and we would pass by on a daily basis heading to town. My first reaction was amazement at the beauty and magnificence of the region. With its white beaches and its cliffs, everything evolved around the center of town.

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Medical School, Coimbra University

The Jewish Community first appeared and became organised in Cascais when Pedro I declared the town independent in 1364. Many famous Jews resided in this area, other then that I could not find much information or history related to the Jews of Portugal in this area


Due to its well-preserved old town center, still partially enclosed by medieval walls, and a large number of monuments dating from various historical periods, including a Roman Temple, Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We headed for Evora, another interesting and Romanesc city. The capital of alto alentejo province, s. Central portugal. Evora was one of the most important jewish communities in the country. King alfonso iii (1248-79) laid down that the chief rabbi of the jewish communities in alentejo (alemtejo) should reside in evora.

In 1360, 1388, and 1434, the evora community was given privileges by the king defining the limits of its autonomy.

In 1325 the jews of evora were compelled by a special decree to wear a yellow shield of david on their hats. On several occasions the kings of portugal intervened in favor of the jews of evora who engaged in varied economic activities. In 1392 john i ordered the town authorities to desist from further confiscation of jewish property in the synagogues of evora, and in 1408 he granted the jews a privilege permitting them to enlarge their quarter. In 1478 the community paid a sum of 264,430 cruzados to the crown.

After the decree of expulsion and forced conversions of 1496/7, evora continued to be an important center of anusim. In april 1505 these were set upon by bands of rioters, who manhandled jews and set the synagogue on fire. From 1542, the year in which luis dias of setubal was burned at the stake there, a tribunal of the inquisition was active in evora.

The location of the old Evora Jewish Quarter is unknown to most people who live in the city and for visitors from the whole world. There are no signs of its existence in Giraldo Square. But the quarter truly existed, in the shape of its people and services, and today exists in its alleys.

These streets, which characterize a good part of Evora’s city center connected to its main square, are still beautiful. Almost labyrinth-like and a bit shady (because they are narrow), they invite you for a walk. Feel part of the past. Discover their white houses with colored blue and yellow decoration around the doors and windows

You can see the Jewish heritage of Evora on a wide set of Gothic pointed arch portals which belonged to the houses of the community residents. They, of course, dedicated themselves to commerce as well as artistic and intellectual activities.

During the 15th century, there were even two synagogues in Evora, together with all the services needed for a large community: school, hospital, court, temple, an inn for ritual baths (“mikve”), places for reading and interpretation of the Bible and a leprosarium. The synagogue represented the Jewish community life center


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Roman Structure, Evora


A beautiful town at the foot of the mountain range of the same name, Sintra’s unique characteristics have led UNESCO to classify it as a World Heritage site. The Moors built two castles in Sintra in the 8th-9th centuries:  one atop a promontory near the town, and the other, located downhill, which was the residence of the Moorish rulers of the region.  This castle was conquered for the Christians by Dom Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, in 1147. The first reference to the Jewish quarter of Sintra dates from the 12th century. It was a small community, with a rabbi, notary, gatekeeper, and a single street. The synagogue first appeard in a letter of tenure in 1407. The Jewish population grew along with the increased economic activity of the town. At the end of the 15th century, this community had an income of about 600 reais, which was relatively modest compared to other Jewish quarters, such as those in Lisbon, Santarém, Évora, Coimbra and Porto.

In the 15th century, King Afonso V began to receive complaints from Christians because of an attempt by the Jews to expand trade to broader sectors of the city. This led the king to decree that Jews could only use the gateway to the Jewish quarter as a place of trade.


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Sintra Palace, Sintra




This city was one of the main points of departure for the fleets of Portuguese ships setting sail for the African coast. Lagos therefore attracted so many Jewish merchants that they could not all fit into the quarter originally set aside for them and asked Prince Henry the Navigator for permission to settle in Christian areas, a privilege which was granted to them and later ratified in the reign of Afonso V (1438-1481). However, the conflicts that arose between the Jewish and Christian populations led to boundaries being set for a "new Jewish quarter" in 1481, in the reign of Dom Joao II. Although the earthquake of 1755 destroyed part of the city and removed all traces of the Jewish presence there, the historical center and the waterfront of the fishing port are areas that still evoke memories of the Jewish community in Lagos


The capital of the Algarve, mediaeval Faro had a Jewish quarter that was noted for being the site of' the first real experience with printing in Portugal, with the publication of the Pentateuch in Hebrew by Samuel Gacon in 1487. After the order was given for the expulsion of the Jews in 1496, the decline in the Jewish quarter and the consequent dispersal of its inhabitants were not reversed until the 19th century, when a prosperous community of Jews from Gibraltar and Morocco settled in Rua de Santo Antonio making a great contribution to the growth of local trade. Around 1830, this community took the initiative of building two synagogues and a cemetery, which later, with the almost complete disappearance of the Jewish population, was to fall into ruins. Through the combined efforts of several Portuguese and foreign organizations this cemetery, situated between Rua Leao Beneto and Estrada da Penah was restored in 1993 and is worth a visit.


Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. It had one of the largest Jewish populations. In 1492 over 100,000 Jews lived in Lisbon, many of them escaped persecution from the Spanish Inquisition In 1497 the Jews were forced to be Baptized or be executed..

We arrived in Lisbon on our last leg of our trip. The city was once surrounded by a great wall. You could see the wall above our hotel, which was located in the center of the city. Just around the corner we located the main square where the Jewish monument stood and looking down towards the river, stood great arches and a wide pedestrian street, which led to the old Jewish quarter. I took some pictures and sent them to some members of Lodger Synagogue. Some of these pictures are attached.


The massacre began, as it is reported, in the São Domingos de Lisboa Convent on Sunday, 19 April 1506. The faithful were praying for the end of the drought and plague that swept the country when someone swore they had seen the illuminated face of Jesus on the altar — a phenomenon that could only be explained by the Catholics present as a message from the Messiah, a miracle.

A New Christian, one of the converted Jews, thought otherwise, and voiced his opinion that it had been only the reflection of a candle on the crucifix. The men gathered for Mass, hearing this, grabbed the man by his hair and brought him outside the church where he was beaten to death by the crowd and his body was burnt in Rossio Square, one of the main squares of central Lisbon.

From that point the New Christians, who were already not trusted by the population, became the scapegoats for the drought, famine and plague. Dominican friars promised absolution for sins committed over the previous 100 days to those who killed the "heretics", and a crowd of more than 500 people (many of them sailors from Holland, Zeeland and the Kingdom of Germany) gathered and killed all the New Christians they could find on the streets, burning their bodies by the Tagus or in Rossio. That Sunday, more than 500 people were violently sent to their deaths.

The Court and the King had earlier left Lisbon for Abrantes in order to escape the plague, and were absent when the massacre began. King Manuel I was in Avis when he was informed of the event in Lisbon, and dispatched magistrates to try to put an end to the bloodbath. Meanwhile, in Lisbon, the small group of authorities present were unable to intervene, as the crowd grew and the violence spread.

By Monday, 20 April, more locals had joined the crowd, which carried on the massacre with even more violence. The New Christians, no longer found on the streets, were dragged from their houses and from churches and, along with their wives, sons and daughters, were burnt in the public squares alive or dead. Not even infants were spared, as the crowd ripped them to pieces or threw them against the walls. The crowd proceeded to loot the houses, stealing all the gold, silver and linens they could find. More than 1000 people were killed on the second day. There is also record that more than Jews were killed that day. Some accused their neighbours of heresy, and these unfortunates met the same fate as the New Christians.

On Tuesday, members of the court arrived at the city and rescued some of the New Christians. João Rodrigues Mascarenhas, the King's Squire, was killed by mistake in the massacre, and this triggered the arrival of the Royal Guard. The death count had, however, already reached more than 1,900. Aires da Silva and D. Álvaro de Castro, head of the Lisbon Freguesia and Governor, respectively, were among those who tried to stop the crowd, and they were backed by the Prior of Crato and D. Diogo Lopo, Baron of Alvito, who had special powers from the King to execute members of the crowd.

Monument in Lisbon in memory of those lost, reads: "In memory of the thousands of Jews who were victimized by intolerance and religious fanaticism, killed on the massacre that started on 19 April 1506, on this square". The base has a verse from the Book of Jobetched onto it: "O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place."

Some Portuguese were arrested and hanged, while others had all their possessions confiscated by the Crown. The foreigners returned to their baracks with their plunder and sailed away. The two seditionist Dominican friars who had incited the massacre were stripped of their religious orders and were burnt at the stake.

There are reports that the São Domingos Convent was closed down during the eight years that followed, and all the representatives of the city of Lisbon were expelled from the Council of the Crown—Lisbon had had a seat in the Council since 1385, when King John I gave the city that privilege.

Following the massacre, a climate of suspicion against New Christians pervaild the Kingdom of Portugal. The Portuguese Inquisition was established thirty years afterward; many families of Jewish ancestry either escaped or were banished from the country. Even banished, they still had to pay for their emigration; they had to leave or sell their properties to the Crown, traveling only with the luggage they could carry.

After the massacre, New Christians of Jewish ancestry still felt deep allegiance to the Portuguese monarch.


  1. Lisbon – It is believed that Jewish life began here in the 8th century. Visit the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II (National Theatre) in Rossio square. Experience an authentic Fado dinner at a fantastic dinner in Lisbon.

  2. Cascais – Take a picturesque view of this beautiful coastal town while traveling from Lisbon to Sintra

  3. Belem – Tour the Belem Tower which was commissioned in the 15th century by King John II to be both part of the defense system at the mouth of the Tagus and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.

  4. Sintra – Due to its artistic, botanical and historic richness, the central landscape is part of the UNESCO list. Sintra had a very representative Jewish Community and we still can find the site of the Jewish Quarter - "Beco da Judiaria".

  5. Evora - A city which is itself a living museum, Evora has a historical center that has been classified by UNESCO as World Heritage. The city was conquered from the Moors in 1165 by Gerald the Fearless (Giraldo o Sem Pavor, a Christian knight in the service of the first king of Portugal) and, by the end of the 15th century, it had one of the largest Jewish quarters in the country.

  6. Crato – This is a place where history blends with legend, transporting us back to the roots of the Portuguese kingdom. Consider an overnight stay in this historical city at the Monastery of Santa Maria Flor da Rosa.

  7. Marvao – Take a walking tour of Marvao, an impressive fortress town that served as an entry point to the thousands of Jews that fled Spain in the 14th and 15th centuries.

  8. Castelo de Vide – Explore the largest Jewish community that existed here in the 14th century. At the corner of Rua da Judiara and Rua Da Fonte stands a medieval synagogue. Visit the archeological museum and see the original 14th century stone arch for the Torah.

  9. Belmonte – Visit the Bet Eliahu Synagogue for Kabbat Shabbat service or take a walking tour and visit the Jewish museum or other monuments in this significant community of cryptic Jews.

  10. Tomar – Visit the national monument of Abraao Zacuto museum which was a synagogue in the 15th century.


Jews in Portugal early in history, were well tolerated by the ruling monarchs. Many of the well to do Merchant Mariners held positions in the Kings court. It wasn’t until the fourteenth century that the fate of the Portuguese Jews was in peril. It should be noted that some authors claim that Christopher Columbus was Jewish and that he intended to take Jews to the new found land, but was unsuccessful on a grand scale. Although many Jews did emigrate to Brazil, and the Carrabin Islands to escape the Pogroms in both Spain and Portugal. That leads to my preamble in my next essay to discuss a little known fact that some of the most famous Pirates were Jewish and as a result of what happened to the Jews in Spain and Portugal, these pirates took revenge for the Inquisition.


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Stripped Cork trees

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Portugeese men


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Monument to the slain Jews, Lisbon Massacre

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Portugal is famous for its baked goods, especially the Nata custard tarts

This is our journey, pictures are mine, these are the places we traveled to last month. Some of the articles are mine. Others are compiled, from research and talking to the Portuguese people.

Isi Davis

Isi Davis - the Jews of Australia

posted 25 Sep 2018, 07:02 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin   [ updated 25 Sep 2018, 17:38 ]

From Jews and Highlands of Scotland
To the Jews of Australia and South Pacific

By Isi Davis

While traveling and hiking in Australia two years ago, I gathered information on the history of the Jewish people, in the land of Australia. My son spent two months this last summer in Australia and took pictures of the synagogues herein.

Today, Australia's Jewish population stands at approximately 112,000 - the ninth largest Jewish community in the world. The majority of Jews in Australia reside in the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane

When the American colonies revolted in 1776, England lost its biggest prison – convicts were routinely shipped to the thirteen colonies to make room in the perpetually crowded British jails. As a result, England annexed the island of Australia in 1788 as a new prison colony. While Australia had been known to Europeans since its discovery in the sixteenth century, the English were the first to settle there on a permanent basis, aside from the native Aboriginal population.

Convicted of violent crimes some 1,000 Jews arrived in Australia among 146,000 convicts transported between 1788-1852, many were for petty crimes. In the first ship to arrive, the youngest Jew was only 8 years old. Some Jews just wanted to leave England, an opportunity for a new life.

Some of the first Jews
Among early Jewish convicts were Sarah Burdo, Rebecca Davidson, Henry Abrams, Daniel Daniels, Aaron Davis, Sarah Davis, David Jacobs, John Jacobs, Thomas Josephs, Isaac Lemon, Amelia Levy , Joseph Levy. Jacob Messiah Esther Abraham and Joseph Tuso. Of which, Daniels may have been a Hebrew scholar.

Joseph Levy’s Crime-stealing a copper kettle worth 8 shillings- was the first Jew to be buried in Australia, dying three months after arriving. Joseph Levy, 20, arrived in August 1820, married a non-Jew in 1832. His daughter Rebecca, married Maurice Solomon in 1853 and died in 1930, at 97. Her descendants and those of her brother are counted among today's Jewish community. Joseph died September 25, 1862. Within a month, strange noises were heard on Friday nights at the Victoria Inn, Berrima. On July 9, 1967, the Sydney Daily Telegraph wrote about the ghost, "Is the ghost looking for a minyan?"

He was followed by Simon Bocerah in July 1791, and by 1817, when 30-40 Jews were resident, the Hevra Kadisha (burial society) was founded in Woollahra.

Joseph Samuel, the man they couldn't hang, was convicted of murder, and sentenced to hang September 26, 1803. The first attempt, as did the second and third tries, ended in a broken rope. "It would seem there has been Divine Intervention," said the governor and granted a reprieve. The ropes were tested; each supported nearly 400 pounds without breaking.

Philip Joseph Cohen arrived in May 1828 to perform Jewish marriages, and brought a chumash, inscribed with centuries of his family's genealogy. Today it is in the Great Synagogue's Rosenblum Museum.

Among colorful personalities were:

Barnett Levey, the first free Jewish male to arrive in 1821, became a successful businessman, shipbroker, storekeeper and ship owner, encouraged migration of free settlers, and built the first theater in Sydney.

Israel Chapman, the colony's first police detective, was appointed in 1827. His adventures were featured in the Sydney Gazette and The Australian.

Edward Davis, 18, arrived in 1833 and became leader of a gang of Jewish bushrangers (robbers) north of Sydney. Captured in December 1840, he was hanged and buried in a corner of the Jewish Devonshire Street cemetery.

Isaac Nathan, called the "father of Australian music," arrived in 1841 with his own piano, having set to music Lord Byron's "Hebrew Melodies." Nathan, born in 1790, was the eldest child of Cantor Menahem Mona, who believed he was the illegitimate child of Stanislaus Poniatowski, the last Polish King.

The Sephardi Montefiore family went to the West Indies and to New South Wales (in 1828), headed by Joseph Barrow Montefiore. In Adelaide, graphic artist E.L. Montefiore established the first circulating public library and the Adelaide Art Galley in 1844.

In 1830, Rabbi Aaron Levy of the London Beth Din, arrived in Sydney, sent by London's chief rabbi to find the husband of an Englishwoman who required a get. Levy brought the first sefer Torah and prayer books.

In the early community, there were one woman to seven men, with frequent intermarriage. The leadership declared that children of a mixed marriage would be regarded as Jews, a tradition also followed among Caribbean Sephardim. However, Levy's arrival meant that, after 1833, this would cease; the mother must be Jewish for the children to be recognized.

Pictures of Early Jews of Australia

Rabbi Alexander Davis Head of Sydney Community 1862-1904

Esther Abrahams-First women prisoner

Esther Abrahams, age 16, was one of a dozen Jews among 800 British convicts who anchored in New South Wales on this date in 1788, as part of the first fleet of British prisoners sent to colonize Australia. Abrahams, convicted of stealing lace, had given birth to a daughter while in Newgate Prison. Headed towards the penal colony aboard the Lady Penhryn to serve a seven-year “transport,” she became involved with a marine lieutenant, George Johnston, with whom she ultimately had seven children. In 1808, Johnston led a coup and became governor of the colony for six months. By then the couple controlled a good deal of the trade in rum and were among Sydney’s most prosperous families. Historians estimate that 463 Jews came to Australia in the first four decades of British colonization, including 384 convicts, 52 free settlers and 27 children.

Gold Rush
The gold rush of the 1850s attracted more Jewish immigrants, so that foreign-born Jews soon outnumbered the native-born. Many of the immigrants initially settled in rural locations, and not in the main, urban communities of Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Adelaide. Fear of assimilation, however, caused most Australian Jews to consolidate in cities by the end of the century. Consequently, the rapidly growing Sydney community soon needed larger facilities, and in 1878 built the Great Synagogue, which was widely considered the most impressive place of worship in Australia.

Early Jewish Life
Australia remains to this day the only country in the world, other than Israel, whose founding members included Jews. As a result, Jews were treated as equal citizens from the outset. In contrast to contemporary Europe, incidents of anti-Semitism were very rare in Australia. Jews were free to participate in economic and cultural life, and played an important role in their development. The first Australian theater, for example, was built by a Jew, and an early Jewish composer, Isaac Nathan, has been described as the "father of Australian music."

Jews also served as elected officials. In the nineteenth century, prominent Jews included the mayor of Melbourne, premier of the state of South Australia, speaker of the House of Representatives, and speaker of Parliament. Interestingly, these political leaders were frequently the heads of their respective kehillas as well; unlike the politically autonomous kehillas of Europe, Australia's communities were cultural and religious institutions only.

The seamless integration of Jews into Australia allowed them to flourish in all spheres but religion. The Jews' incorporation into society led to a rise in intermarriage, a drop in synagogue attendance, and a lack of affiliation with Judaism in general. Nonetheless, there were still those who maintained their observance. The communities remained affiliated with the British Chief Rabbinate, and founded numerous Jewish schools and synagogues.

In addition to the Ashkenazim who comprised the vast majority of Australian Jewry, a small Sephardic community thrived during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. For some twenty years there was a Sephardic congregation, and such prominent families as the Montefiores occupied important communal positions. Gradually, however, the Sephardic population decreased, and the congregation was disbanded by 1873.

The Community Grows
At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, as Australia was unifying its colonies into one independent nation, a wave of immigration from Europe bolstered the Jewish community both in terms of numbers and observance. Refugees from the pogroms in Russia and Poland came in the 1890s, and brought an infusion of tradition to the assimilated communities. Following World War I, another stream of Jews arrived in the country, and when Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, that stream became a flood. The Australian government was initially hesitant about opening its gates to so many immigrants, but in 1938 decided to allot 15,000 visas for "victims of oppression." Some 7,000 Jews took advantage of the visas before the outbreak of war in 1939.

The influx of immigrants led to a split among the urban Jewish centers. Most of the Jews who lived in Sydney were from Western and Central Europe. These Jews tended to be more secular than their Eastern European counterparts, who, by and large, settled in Melbourne. As a result, Sydney became known for its secular Jewish population, and Melbourne for its highly Orthodox community. At the same time, Perth also became primarily Orthodox as thousands of observant Africans arrived.

But if the German and Hungarian immigrants were secular in comparison to the Russians and the Poles, they were still far more religious than the Australians. Thus, even those Australians who remained non-Orthodox gradually became more involved in communal affairs. The previously synagogue-oriented kehillas began to focus their energies more on education, Zionism, and combating anti-Semitism, allowing even the irreligious to become involved. By the end of World War II, the community was very united in its opposition to assimilation, and was gradually becoming more observant of ritual and doctrine.

Post-War Developments
In the aftermath of the war, even more European Jews arrived in Australia, mostly from displaced persons camps. The trend toward observance continued to grow, especially once the Lubavitch movement gained a foothold, and day-school attendance rose steadily. The growth of the thriving community was briefly interrupted in the 1970s, when a rise in intermarriage caused an unprecedented decrease in the total Jewish population. By the early 1980s, however, a census indicated that the Jewish population was once again growing, and that intermarriage had once again dropped to one of the lowest levels in the diaspora. Immigration did not let up, and, in 1989, the flow of primarily South African immigrant was augmented by refugees from the newly disbanded Soviet Union.

The long dormant Sephardic community was also revitalized in the post-war period. Since the original community's demise in the late 1800s, Sephardim had a difficult time gaining entry to Australia due to the racist White Australia Policy instituted by the government. In 1956, following the Suez crisis in Egypt, the government began to allowed select Egyptian Jews to enter the country. In ensuing years, pressure from the Jewish communities caused the government to drop its anti-Sephardic stance. By 1969, when the Iraqi government began to target the Jews for persecution, Australia allowed any refugee who could come to Australia to do so.

Historical Events by Year

18 January: First Fleet under Captain Phillip arrives at Botany Bay with 14+ Jewish convicts. The youngest of the prisoners was a baby born in England –mother Esther Abrahams. The next youngest was a 8 year old child.

8 Jewish convicts at short-lived settlement at Sorrento in Port Phillip Bay.

20 February: Hobart inaugurated as a penal colony with 8 Jewish convicts at establishment.

26 January, Governor Bligh deposed by Lt. Col. Johnson, whose common-law wife was Esther Abrahams of the First Fleet.

Jewish burial society formed in Sydney

Jewish free settlers arrive in Sydney.

Swan River (free-immigrant) Colony, Perth, promoted. Major visionary figure was Solomon Levey.

Earliest known Australian Ketuba for a Jewish marriage of 4 August, Sydney.

Organized Jewish community formed in Sydney

Establishment of the Province of South Australia, lead by the visionary Wakefield including such backers as Moses Montefiore.

John Batman as leader of a Tasmanian group with several Jewish members negotiated with Aboriginal leaders for the site of Melbourne. Batman's Treaty was denounced by the Crown as contrary to "terra nullius" principle.

The "Jewboy" bushranger Edward Davis active in Hunter Valley.

Organized Jewish community formed in Melbourne

The York Street Synagogue, built in Sydney. In use 1844-1877

Hobart synagogue built - still in use

The first ever Australian Jewish Newsletter published as the Sydney edition of the London Voice of Jacob. Short-lived.

Melbourne founded -- earliest communal activity; Solomon's Ford crosses Salt Water Creek (now the Maribyrnong River), upstream of the future Flemington.

First Jewish parliamentarian elected; over fifty Jews MPs served during the colonial period.

Adelaide's first Synagogue completed on the corner of Rundle Street and Synagogue Place.

Gold discoveries at several sites in New South Wales and Victoria promoted a great burst in free immigration, including a significant percentage of Jews.

Ballarat community founded.

East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation founded, after separating from the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation.

Dec 8: Eureka Stockade, Ballarat stormed by troops. Teddy Thonen, a German Jew was the first of 24 miners killed defending the stockade. Earlier Manastra Flatow was one of those arrested in connection with the burning of the Eureka Hotel.

Original Ballarat Synagogue dedicated. Of wooden construction.

Alexander Marks goes to Yokohama when the city is first opened to foreigners; birth of Australian trade with Japan. From 1879 to 1902 Marks was honourary consul general of Japan in Melbourne, one of the very first consular representatives of Japan.

New synagogue erected for the Ballarat congregation. (The oldest mainland synagogue still in use.)

Visit of Jerusalem emissary Rabbi Hayam Zevee Sneersohn to Australia. Successfully acquired funds to erect a housing cluster for visiting scholars near the Wall (Ha Kotel) in Jerusalem.

Accidental death of Isaac Nathan (1790-1864) "the Father of Australian Music".

New synagogue erected/dedicated in Albert Street for the East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation - now oldest in Melbourne and only synagogue in the CBD.

First Australian Beth Din established, headed by Rabbi Herman of Ballarat.

The Great Synagogue Sydney dedicated, to replace York Street Synagogue.

13 Nov. Perth Hebrew Congregation established. The Brisbane Street Synagogue was opened in 1897.

Chovevei Zion (Lovers' of Zion Society) active in Sydney, three years before the first Zionist Conference in Basle, Switzerland.

Synagogue constructed at Coolgardie, on the Western Australian goldfields.

Federation. First Australian Parliament includes four Jews, Isaac Isaacs, Vaiben Louis Solomon, Elias Solomon, Pharez Phillips, in the House of Representatives.

April 19: Kishinev pogrom. Protest (at the Czarist policies that promoted this pogram) meeting held at Sydney Town Hall by concerned citizens of all faiths. Speakers included Abraham Pearlman, storekeeper in Boggabri (NSW), born in Kishinev.

Isaac Isaacs Commonwealth Attorney General

Colonel, later Brigadier John Monash leads Australian troops of the 4th Infantry Brigade, at Gallipoli.

General Sir John Monash leads the Australian Corps through the victorious battles of the closing stages of the war.

British official, Sir Mathew Nathan, serves as Governor of Queensland. Early in his career, when a military officer, he was rejected as a military attachée in Vienna by the anti-semitic Austro-Hungarians.

Council of Jewish Women (CJW) founded in Sydney by Dr Fanny Reading. Later became the NSW branch of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, NCJWA.

First interstate Jewish cricket match was the fore-runner of interstate Jewish Sporting Carnivals that have been staged mostly annually since.

1st April. Inaugural meeting of those interested in Liberal Judaism in Melbourne. Liberal community established.

23 Jan Sir Isaac Isaacs sworn in as the first Australian born Governor General.

Dr Jacob Jona elected President of Hawthorn Football Club, which position he held to 1949. Dr Jona was the first, but other Jewish presidents of VFL Clubs in the 1930's were Dr D. Berman of North Melbourne; Reuben Sackville of St Kilda, Ewart Joseph of Fitzroy.

8 October: Death of Sir John Monash. An estimated 250,000 mourners attended his state funeral.

Years of the Great Depression. Modest scale migration of Jewish refugees, about 9000 in total. Australian Jewish Welfare Society plays major role in refugee migration, settlement.

Sir Isaac Isaacs lays foundation stone for Temple Beth Israel, St Kilda, the first Liberal/Progressive Synagogue built in Australia.

July: Evian Conference on Jewish Refugees. Australian representative, White says Australia would not undertake "any scheme of large-scale foreign migration", but Sydney Morning Herald editorial condemns White's speech.

9 November Kristallnacht in Berlin. Australian reverberations. Rabbi Sanger, of Temple Beth Israel, Melbourne, aids the establishment of Temple Emanuel, the first Liberal congregation in Sydney

December 6th, Melbourne. The Australian Aborigines League attempts to present a resolution ‘condemning the persecution of Jews and Christians in Germany’ to the German Consul-General.
Aboriginal delegation lead by William Cooper.

December: Australian Government announces that it will admit 15,000 'non-Aryan' refugees over next three years.

Australian Jewish Historical Society founded in Sydney.

Hakoah (Soccer) Club established in Sydney.

September: World War II commences. Jewish immigration ceases.

Isaac Steinberg of the Freeland League visits Australia (in 1939). Proposal for settling Jewish refugees in the Kimberley region of Western Australia is a public issue.

Last of 8,586 Jewish refugees enter Australia under AJWS sponsorship 1938-40.

7th September 1940 Duneera arrives Sydney, carrying Jewish refugees from Axis countries, incarcerated as enemy aliens.

Struma incident where this ship crammed with 750 Jewish refugees who could not be landed at Palestine, was towed into the Black Sea where it sank, with just one survivor. A critical event in Australian Jewish history as British apologists, notably Sir Isaac Isaacs, lost all community credibility.

Julius Stone, Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at the University of Sydney, published Stand Up and Be Counted, an open letter to Sir Isaacs Isaacs, who in his extreme old age had sought to lead a bizarre crusade against Zionism.

B’nai B’rith Sydney Lodge inaugurated; followed by Melbourne Lodge in 1945.

Arthur Calwell becomes Minister for Immigration in the Chiefly government. Commences program of mass immigration, which continues under the Menzies governments.

Total of 17,768 Jewish refugees enter Australia under auspices of the AJWS. Very small numbers in comparison with overall migration level.

May 15: Israel comes into being. Is immediately recognized on de facto basis by the United States. Shortly afterwards the new state was recognized on a de jure basis by Australia. [ The US does not recognize Israel on de jure basis until January 31, 1949.]

July. Israeli Consulate-general established in Sydney. This was "the first diplomatic mission of Israel for 2000 years".

During these years arrival in Australia of some of the 850,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries and Iraq broadens the Community.

Mt Scopus War Memorial College established in St. Kilda Road, near central Melbourne, with 143 students.

July 27 New Zealand (finally) recognized the State of Israel.

Jewish Tourist Sites

Today's Jewish community is concentrated in the St. Kilda district, home of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, the oldest and largest synagogue in the city. The original kehilla that was formed in 1841 moved into this large, stately building in 1930, and the dome-topped, Victorian structure has been in use ever since. Other synagogues in Melbourne include Temple Beth Israel, a Liberal synagogue that seats more than 2,000 people; the St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation, which is more in the old-world style; and the Kew synagogue, the newest and most modern looking temple.

The Jewish museum of Australia displays Judaica, ritual objects, Holocaust material, and paintings and sculptures by Jewish authors. The nearby Kadimah Cultural Center shows Jewish and Yiddish drama, and has a large library of Judaica. There are also kosher restaurants and grocery stores throughout the St. Kilda area.

The most important Jewish sight in Sydney is the Great Synagogue. Built in 1878, the imposing building is one of the most spectacular synagogues standing today. Its four-story pointed towers, arches, and stained glass clerestory are prime examples of Victorian architecture. The building also houses a Jewish museum and library.

While the Great Synagogue is located in the center of the city, most of Sydney's Jews live in the Bondi and North Shore suburbs. Bondi features the Hakoah Club, a Casino with a kosher dining room that is reminiscent of Atlantic City. The area, which overlooks the ocean from a towering cliff, also features kosher restaurants, a Lubavitch yeshiva, and several synagogues.

The North Shore Synagogue, established in 1947 by German immigrants Reverend William and Rosalie Katz, is a modern Orthodox community situated in the Lindfield area of Sydney. Known as the "Garden Synagogue" for its beautiful surroundings, the synagogue is within a garden of tall Australian trees. North Shore Synagogue holds regular services, as well as services for Shabbat and festivals, has a Hebrew School and a B'nai Mitzvah program, and has over 850 families in its congregation. Next door is the local Jewish day school's junior school of Masada and the senior school is a few minutes up the road in another Jewish suburb on the north shore, St. Ives.

The recently built Museum of Australian Jewish History and the Holocaust is located in Darlinghurst. It includes exhibits on the convicts who founded Sydney's Jewish community, and a recreation of George Street in central Sydney where a number of Jewish businesses were located in the mid-1800s.

Its foundation stone laid on August 9, 1843, the Hobart Synagogue in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia is the oldest synagogue in Australia. It was designed by James Alexander Thomson, a Scotsman originally sent to Australia in 1825 for attempted jewel robbery, in the Egyptian Revival Style. The Egyptian style represented antiquity and the synagogue’s design was meant to indicate Judaism’s ancient roots.

The synagogue’s entrance is decorated with two carved pillars supporting an architrave and cornice, upon which appears the Hebrew inscription from the Book of Exodus: “Wherever my name is mentioned there will I come and bless you.” The synagogue’s Ark is enclosed by a light and elegant bronzed railing and is approached by circular steps. On either side of the doors of the Ark, which are richly carved and gilded, are placed two elaborately carved pillars, supporting an entablature and cornice of cedar, which is also gilded.

The Hobart Synagogue Ark contains multiple Torah scrolls thought to be as old as the synagogue. One of these scrolls was donated by Lady Rachel Ezra of Calcutta, India, though it is probably of Syrian origin, in 1951 and is kept in an ornamental silver casing in the Sephardi style. On display is a Memorial Sefer Torah from Czechoslovakia that is one of the 1,564 scrolls seized from desecrated synagogues by the Nazis.

The synagogue is currently shared by an Orthodox and a Progressive group and, since 1956, there has not been permanent rabbi in residence so the congregation depends on members who have received traditional Jewish instruction for leadership. The Hobart Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the southern hemisphere still in regular use.                                            

Transported convicts Judah Solomon and his brother Joseph arrived in Tasmania from England in 1820. Like many of their fellow prisoners, the Solomon brothers were larger-than-life characters. According to congregational histories, they earned their one-way tickets to the Southern Hemisphere after being convicted of hiring miscreants to steal goods that had already been stolen. Ever the entrepreneurs, the Solomon brothers convinced members of their Jewish community back home in Sheerness, England, to invest in a more savory endeavor: a general store in Hobart, which had the support of British colonial authorities, and which they would operate themselves. The store prospered, leading to other enterprises in Hobart and elsewhere on the island. Judah was pardoned, acquired a mistress, and built a mansion.

The Great Synagogue Sydney

Inside Sydney Synagogue


Jewish Synagogues

Hobart Synagogue

 Outback Synagogue

Sassoon Yehuda Synagogue

Ballarat Synagogue

Pictures of the South Pacific

Thanks Isi

Food for Thought

posted 23 Apr 2018, 12:52 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin   [ updated 23 Apr 2018, 15:16 ]

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Except if it shall be tasty when it is seasoned and cooked.

Food for Thought

Our congregation is slowly being infiltrated by a strange new inhabitant called a vegetarian.

There were only two of them until this year when they  suddenly increased by three more with their hungry, confused spouses.

Being vegan or vegetarian  is permitted by Torah. It is said that we were all vegetarian until G-d relented and permitted His/Her hungry children to eat meat.

Each of us has a different reason for our switch to being a vegan or vegetarian and we have different degrees of observance. I am a vegetarian, eat fish and eggs, and am unconcerned if by error some meat enters into food that I thought was vegetarian. This winter I was advised to lose 10 pounds before my hernia operation both  for my own comfort and for the surgeon. I had wanted to lose 10 lbs. and this was a perfect opportunity. The diet the hospital gave me was the diet from hell which I could never follow, so I became vegetarian. I easily lost those ten pounds and have kept them off for the last 3 1/2 months. The benefits are numerous. Being slender is healthier, vegetables and vegetable dishes taste better, I feel better, and I am no longer as hungry as I used to be. My doctor says my kidney numbers are better and I have maintained my health. In addition there are the following side benefits - food is cheaper, I don’t participate, however indirectly, in killing animals,  the world’s food supply is greater, and the environment has improved with fewer cows raised for my benefit.

Jonathan Usher

Forks Over Knives

As a recent convert to veganism (Pesach 2018) I haven’t experienced it long enough to give a credible argument from my own personal perspective. However, I can say what motivated me to choose a plant-based diet. Seven things influenced me.

  • Mounting empirical medical evidence that a plant-based diet is far more healthy than anything containing animal products (see point 6)

  • A vegan diet is more sustainable and less demanding on the environment than a meat-and/or-dairy based diet, with a vegan diet taking about a 10th of the resources

  • Moral concerns -  animals are not biological automatons; they feel complex emotions such as pleasure, anger, fear, sadness, anxiety; they show complex social behaviours such as altruism, cooperation, self-sacrifice, leadership and following, friendship, pairing, and loyalty. They exhibit responses to pleasure and pain. I am an animal lover – how could I continue to reconcile my love for animals with a diet that eats them? (Note: The recent Dog Meat Festival in China had a huge influence on my decision. How could I be outraged at the consumption of dogs, but not cattle? Or chickens?)

  • Kosher- I became disgusted at the quality and cost of kosher meat and chicken available in Toronto. Veganism makes it easy to keep kosher.

  • Food sensitivities – particularly to dairy.

  • My diabetes. I researched a study called the China Study and learned that the results of a 20-year study in parts of China where people’s diets were primarily plant-based showed very low instances of diabetes. The researchers posited that the traditional thinking about diabetes being caused by sugar and carbs was false.(The Chinese people studied had very high carb intakes - rice). An animal fat diet impairs our bodies from processing sugar and carbs, therefore leaving sugar in the bloodstream resulting in diabetes. The root cause was not the sugar and carbs, but the animal fats rendering our cells unable to absorb sugars.

  • My husband’s uncontrollable high blood pressure. Charly’s blood pressure, despite medication, was too high. Vegetarianism is a positive diet that when combined with low/no salt has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Charly and I watched several documentaries that educated us on the health, moral and environmental advantages of a plant-based diet. We read several articles and books and decided to try it for two weeks. The two weeks passed and we’re still going – Charly’s blood pressure has improved drastically and my diabetes is well controlled.

I feel wonderful! More energy. Happier. Clearer. The only disadvantage I’ve noticed is the need to plan ahead. It’s a price I’m willing to pay. We also are committed to buying only organic produce and have drastically reduced our consumption of processed foods.

Quite frankly, I can’t imagine anyone watching a documentary like Forks Over Knives and NOT being motivated to change. I was telling a group of friends about this new journey and how the documentaries showed the horrible treatment of animals in the meat industry and one guy actually said “Oh I won’t watch that. I love the taste of meat too much.”

I get that people’s diet choices are personal. I get that ignorance kept me a meat-eater for 66 years. But I cannot understand anyone refusing to be educated. Once you know what’s going on, you cannot sit idly by.

Judy Hazan


Rabbi Kook followed a vegetarian diet and even predicted that when the Messiah appears we will all follow a vegetarian diet.  So those of us who are following this diet are already almost* there!

I guess vegan is even better,  and we do eat a lot vegan, but not all vegan.  

I actually say I follow a vegetarian diet rather than say I am a vegetarian.  

Some people go meatless once a week which is a start to more healthy eating.

However, *parve dark chocolate is vegetarian and vegan and so are French Fries, so any diet needs thought.  A vegetarian or vegan diet can be healthy or not depending on food choices.

(vegan: no eggs,  no dairy, no honey, yes: legumes, nuts seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables)

(vegetarian: do eat eggs, dairy, honey, as well as what vegans eat)

(From Google: The strongest support for vegetarianism as a positive ideal anywhere in Torah literature is in the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook(1865-1935). Rav Kook was the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel and a highly respected and beloved Jewish spiritual leader in the early 20th century. He was a mystical thinker, a forceful writer, and a great Torah scholar.)

Marilyn Richmond

Ahimsa Parmo Dharma

(Non-Violence is supreme religion)

For hundreds  of years, the Brahmin caste of Indians (for instance, more recently, Gandhi) and Jains--totaling in the millions of people--adopted vegetarianism, according to the philosophical principle of Ahimsa--at the least minimal, and ideally, no suffering to all living things.  Basically, as we have learned from DNA studies, only a few chromosomes differentiate humans from amoebas.

Sheldon Richmond

Ahimsa is an attribute of the brave. Cowardice and ahimsa don't go together any more than water and fire.

Mahatma Gandhi

The Great Lie

Once in a while you're lucky enough to have an "Ah ha!" moment that has the potential of turning your life around. My name is Charles Greene and I am a professional dieter.

I've made eggs my go-to breakfast for years.

“There is…no scientific evidence whatsoever that eating eggs in any way increases the risk of heart attack,”  says the egg industry’s National Commission on Egg Nutrition.

I'd scramble up two eggs with butter, cubed 12 grain bread, (or oatmeal,) and feta cheese.

Recently, and with my usual creativity and ingenuity, I changed the delivery system in how I consume my eggs. I began to liquify my go-to breakfast in boiling water rather than scrambling. i.e. Instead of chewing and digesting the meal slowly, I drank my breakfast. Convenient, for certain.

In less than a week, my blood pressure went through the roof. 205/160. Two days later I was in ‘Emerg’ wracking my brain trying to figure out why the dramatic change in blood pressure.

My answer, in short, was that it took time for my body to digest the scrambled eggs. Drinking the liquified eggs however, was tantamount to hanging an intravenous drip connected directly into my bloodstream. Hit your body that hard, every day, and your body doesn't stand a chance of reducing the buildup of cholesterol in your bloodstream - ergo clogged arteries and high blood pressure.  My "Ah ha!" moment - eggs are in fact not healthy. Period. It's not a question of moderation. Dr. Michael Greger has his "big hammer, little hammer" analogy. Why hit yourself with a hammer at all? After doing a ton of research, I made the decision to go Vegan the following week. Why not vegetarianism? Well, that’s just a smaller hammer.

Re: Eggs. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent convincing people eggs are not going to kill them. Cardiology experts warn that eating even a single egg a day may exceed the safe upper limit for cholesterol intake.

Charles Greene

One warning: Do your homework. Consult a doctor. Vegans must supplement vitamin B12. Also, regardless of diet, people don’t get enough vitamin D.

Lodzer 65th Anniversary GALA 1953-2018

posted 29 Jan 2018, 14:40 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin   [ updated 29 Jan 2018, 14:47 ]

Lodzer 65th Anniversary GALA


Call Sarah to purchase tickets for our 65th Gala

(details in the event calendar)


12 Heaton Street, M3H 4Y6  (416) 636-6665





“Ladies and gentlemen, The Caverners. Let's bring them on."

When I find myself in times of trouble,

the Lodzer Congregation comforts me,

speaking words of wisdom…

Let it be.


May 27, 2018






Tickets $150

Don’t Wait!

Place Your

Personal Greetings

in the

Lodzer Centre Congregation

65th Gala Book

Personal ads:

Full page    $500

Half page    $250

Quarter page $125

Eighth page  $ 75

Business ads (inside):

Full page 8x10 $800

Half page 8x5  $400

Quarter pg 4x5 $200

THE CAVERNERS debuted in 1994 and have since been exciting audiences with their note for note perfect portrayal of The Beatles in concert.  With authentic instruments, costumes and stellar vocals this all Canadian cast recreates an incredible performance nigh

t after night leaving audiences screaming, stamping their feet and shouting for more.

Isi Davis - Making the Synagogue Rounds

posted 17 Jan 2018, 19:14 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin

The Summer of 2017

Isi Davis - Making the Synagogue Rounds

Central Synagogue, Budapest

The Great Synagogue of Budapest, with its Moorish-style twin towers, on Dohány Street is a good starting point to learn about Jewish Budapest.

Jews were banned from the city in the 18th century, so they established a Jewish quarter just outside the old city boundary.

Remains of the old Pest city walls run on the opposite side of the road.

The Jews built their main synagogue in a residential area. Theodore Herzl, founder of modern Zionism was born in one of the buildings.

This stunning temple was constructed between 1844-59 according to Ludwig Förster’s plans.

The second largest synagogue (the largest stands in New York) in the world can take in 3,000 people.

Its Byzantine-Moorish style will fascinate you and remind you of monuments in the Middle-East.

Two onion-shaped domes sit on the twin towers at 43 m height.

The towers symbolize the two columns of Solomon’s Temple.

The spacious interior has equally rich decorations. A single-span cast iron supports the 12-m wide nave. ornate gilded column

The seats on the ground-floor are for men, while the upper gallery has seats for women.

Surprisingly, the synagogue has an organ, though this instrument is used in Christian churches. The temple’s acoustic make it a popular venue for concerts.

The Dohány Street synagogue witnessed the tragic events of WW II.

The Germans established a ghetto for the Jews in 1944 that served as a gathering place for deportation.

Many people found refuge in the Dohány utca synagogue but thousands died during the bleak winter of 1944/45. Their bodies are buried in the courtyard.

In the cobbled Raoul Wallenberg (Swedish diplomat who saved many Jews during WW II) park stands the Holocaust Memorial by Imre Varga.

It was erected in 1989 above the mass graves in the honour and memory of Hungarian Jewish martyrs.

On each leave of the metal weeping willow tree you can read a name of a martyr. inContext

Near the Tree of Life is the symbolic grave of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat sent to Hungary with the instruction to do whatever he could to save Jews from the Nazis. He gave Swedish passports to Jews and sent them to safe houses, saving tens of thousands from death. When the Soviets arrived, Wallenberg was arrested, accused of being a U.S. spy, sent to the gulag and executed. The small stones are symbolic of Jewish cemeteries where pebbles are placed on desert graves to keep animals from disturbing the remains.

A stained glass window that stands near the symbolic grave has fire that symbolizes the Holocaust, the Hebrew word “Shoah” literally means catastrophe, and the curling snake represents fascism. inContext

Kazinczy Street Synagogue, Budapest

The city’s Orthodox Jewish congregation decided to build its own independent synagogue in 1909. Based on the designs of Sándor and Béla Löffler, the Secessionist style synagogue was completed in 1913. The façade of the synagogue which fronts onto Kazinczy Street is considered to be one of the outstanding works of Hungarian Late-Secessionist architecture.

The principal feature of this red-brick building, located on the bend of Kazinczy Street, is its main entrance; this is also the focal point for the religious symbols. Access, to the recently completed Sasz-Chevra Chapel, can be gained via the gateway leading into the courtyard located next to the synagogue.

The synagogue has continued to function as such to this day. The Orthodox kosher Hanna restaurant is located in the building complex next to the synagogue. inContext

"Shoes on the Danube promenade" - Budapest

To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45.

Few places in Europe were left untouched by the events of World War Two. Sitting along the shores of the River Danube in Budapest is one of the most haunting memorials to the events of those dark times. In 1944 and 1945, the Hungarian government was run by the fascist Arrow Cross Party. The party was briefly suppressed by the Hungarian prime minister at the outset of the war, but ultimately rose to power with the support of Nazi Germany.

In the winter of 1944 and 1945, thousands of Jewish civilians – and those people who were simply suspected of collaboration – were executed on the banks of the Danube. The Arrow Cross Party forced their victims to kneel at the edge of the river, letting the water wash the bodies away after countless victims were gunned down.

In 2005, sculptors and artists Gyula Pauer and Can Togay crafted sixty pairs of 1940s-era shoes of all styles, (cast out of iron, not bronze, to prevent the theft of an expensive commodity,) facing the river where so many died at the hands of the Arrow Cross Party.

Haunting and powerful, the Shoes on the Danube are a poignant and chilling reminder of those dark times. inContext

Red River

the train was too late

by foot it was too far

the river too nearby

the hatred too strong

bullets through your head

river of blood

red Danube

dead Budapest

© by Jan Theuninck

Portuguese Synagogue, Amsterdam

The Portuguese Synagogue is a magnificent 17th century building found in the old Jewish district of east Amsterdam near Waterlooplein.

It is open to the public as part of the Jewish Cultural Quarter and is still used as a functioning Synagogue and also as a venue for candlelight concerts.

Amsterdam had a sizeable Sephardic Jewish community in the 17th century made up of those who had fled Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition plus Ashkenazi Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. Having prospered during the Dutch Golden Age it was decided to build a fitting place of worship.

The Portuguese Synagogue complex was opened in 1675 and is set in a courtyard surrounded by small buildings. The main Synagogue building (Esnoga) has a rectangular form and is built on wooden piles and includes a timber roof structure and 72 cast-iron arched windows.

The original Synagogue interior features wooden benches and impressive chandeliers which can be illuminated by hundreds of candles.  inContext

Thanks Isi. There are great stories behind your pictures.


posted 7 Jan 2018, 20:13 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin   [ updated 7 Jan 2018, 20:27 ]


January 25

7:30 PM

CIJR Presents,

at the Lodzer

The Jews of Bulgaria

All welcome.

No charge.


Dr. Miroslav Marinov

Born and raised in Bulgaria. He is a graduate of the University of Sofia and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences where he received a doctorate in philosophy. He is a writer, editor and translator, mostly from Russian and Bulgarian. He has authored two books; “Saved: Japan and the Jews in World War 11” and “Holocaust Averted: Bulgarian Jews in World War 11.”

Dr. Marinov immigrated to Canada in l990. Since coming here, he has been deeply involved in anti Israel and anti Semitic issues. He is a Director of the Canada Israel Friendship Association, and counters anti-Semitic actions in his writing and videos.

The Jews of Bulgaria

In the dark days of WW2, when the Nazi killing machine was rolling over Poland, France, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia – one country refused to abandon its Jewish citizens. Not only did Bulgaria save all of its 50,000 Bulgarian Jews, but by the end of the war their numbers rose to 52,000. Bulgaria was the only European country to save its entire Jewish population from deportation and annihilation. Yet the saving of the Bulgarian Jews is little known to the world.

“a historical blackout”

After the war, the Communists took over. “Growing up in communist Bulgaria, the Jews were hardly ever discussed,” The government was anti Israel, spewing propaganda that labelled Zionism “the new form of racist discrimination”. But Zionism was a very strong element in the lives of Bulgarian Jews and, “they were on a collision course with the Communist regime. Most – 90% – emigrated to Israel. ”Today there are less than 2,000 Jews left in Bulgaria. “We are probably approaching the time when Jewish life in Bulgaria will be only a nice memory,”


Edinburgh, Scotland

posted 9 Nov 2017, 09:58 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin


Edinburgh, Scotland

Follow in the footsteps of legends

The oldest and most iconic golf course in the world. The Swilcan Bridge and Hell Bunker are recognised across the globe, yet the greatest feature of the Old Course is that despite its grand status it remains a public golf course, open to all.

I fell in love with it the first day I played it. There's just no other golf course that is even remotely close.

Jack Nicklaus, Open Champion 1970, 1978

My son Andrew flew over to Scotland this last weekend for a few days.

Picture of St. Andrews golf course.  Andrew is an avid golfer./Isi Davis


"a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design"

Robert Louis Stevenson

Arthur's Seat is the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh, Scotland which form most of Holyrood Park.

Holyrood Park is a short walk from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in the heart of the city. It is a 640 acre Royal Park adjacent to Holyrood Palace.

The parks highest point is Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano, and sits 251 m above sea level giving excellent view of the city; it is also the site of a large and well preserved fort.  This is one of four hill forts dating from around 2000 years ago.  With its diverse range of flora and geology it is also site of Special Scientific Interest.

Within the park you can also visit St Anthony’s Chapel - a 15th century medieval chapel, Salisbury Crags – a series of 150 foot cliff faces dominating Edinburgh’s skyline as well as Duddingston Loch – a freshwater loch rich in birdlife.

Andrew with his friend on top of Arthur's seat

which is next to Holyrood castle Edinburgh Scotland./Isi Davis


Scotland’s national drink - Scotch whisky - 'The Water of Life'

The Scots used it to heal common ailments and keep warm throughout the winter. The British taxed it to help fund their government. And now, Scottish whisky exports make up one quarter of the UK’s international food and drink trade.

While in Edinburgh Andrew went to a scotch tasting evening with his sister Laura.

Just as Rabbi Eli, my son knows his scotch./Isi Davis


Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day or Poppy Day, commemorates the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war. Two minutes of silence is marked on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, which is the anniversary of the ending of the First World War in 1918 between the Allies and Germany.

Remembrance Sunday, the main day of observance, takes place on the Sunday nearest to the 11th November, with services across the country.

Scotland’s national remembrance ceremony takes place on Remembrance Sunday, with the laying of wreaths by national, local, and military leaders at the Stone of Remembrance, beside St Giles Cathedral.

A services parade, led by veterans, with pipes and drums of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and 2 Scots, will leave Edinburgh Castle Esplanade shortly after 10:30am and march to the Service and Ceremony at the Stone of Remembrance.

Spirit of 1914

"if it be life that waits, I shall live forever unconquered.

If death, I shall die at last, strong in my pride and free"

The Winter's Tale - Sunday Nights with Rabbi Eli

posted 9 Nov 2017, 09:28 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin

Jews are owners, NOT occupiers.

posted 19 Oct 2017, 08:56 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin


Stop talking about ‘solutions’


start talking about truth and justice.

Our ‘target market’ is not the radicals who work to destroy Israel. Our market does include those on the fringes of the anti-Israel movement and those in the ‘mushy middle’ who have been misled by the radicals, but our most immediate and important market is those people who already love and defend Israel. It is often said that we should stop ‘preaching to the choir,’ but that is only really true when the choir is singing the right notes of the right song from the right book at the right time. Our job is to get our choir singing the same beautiful song.

Jews are owners, NOT occupiers.

Key points on which to stay focused

during any discussion of Israel’s land rights:

1. There can be no peace without truth. Jews have a land title deed from 1922 in which the world told Jews to rebuild their ancient ‘national home.’ It’s very existence proves accusations of stolen land are false.

2. This document returned all land west of the Jordan River to the Jewish people, including Jerusalem.

3. This document gave Jewish land east of the Jordan River to Arabs in what we call the original 2 state solution.

4. Many Jews died in the Holocaust because the world didn’t keep its promises in the Jewish land deed.

5. Now the world wants to unjustly divide Jewish land again in a new 2-state solution. It’s not fair.

6. Jews couldn’t trust the world’s promises from 1922, so why should they trust new promises today?

7. The world has a duty to help preserve Jewish honour, especially considering all the terrible things it’s done to Jewish people, so let’s acknowledge the original 2-state solution: the League of Nations Mandate For Palestine and its promises before talking about any new ‘solutions.’




Google Photos: 20171015_israelTruthWeek

Thank you so much to Lodzer for attending and documenting my first Israel Truth Week IN THE STREET event. Some of you may remember that Lodzer hosted my 2014 conference and tradeshow. I was very pleased with Sunday’s turnout and with the results; we got approximately 80-90 flyers about Israel’s land rights out to people right in the heart of Jewish Toronto.

I’ve personally trained nearly 500 Zionists about Israel’s land title deed—the Mandate For Palestine—and how to use it to defend Israel. The reason I emphasize ‘preaching to the choir’ (i.e. Jews & friends of Israel) is because, on average, only about 2% of my trainees have ever read the magnificent words of the Mandate before meeting me, and many find the experience of reading it for the first time to be quite moving. But, it’s not really about the legal details of this amazing instrument of international law; it’s about using it to create a moral narrative to help the world understand that Jews are, once again, being victimized by lies and violence. It’s about stopping the search for ‘solutions’ until the ‘occupation’ lie that underlies nearly all of today’s anti-Israel hate is destroyed. No Jewish child should ever go to bed believing their people stole land that didn’t belong to them.

Finally, I would like to note that the Mandate For Palestine never once mentions the word G-d, so it serves as irrefutable secular evidence for a secular world that the ‘occupation’ allegation is false, however, those of us who believe can see His fingerprints all over the pages of the document.

Mark Vandermaas

Israel Truth Week

Spartacus Soccer Club

posted 1 Oct 2017, 19:54 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin

Our Contact: Martin Scott
Discipline + Commitment = Excellence
Promo Code: Lodzer Shabbat Bulletin

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