The Authentic Sephardi Jews of Portugal

The Jewish community of Belmonte was officially recognized in 1989. It brings together the Jews of Belmonte and its surroundings. Its headquarters are located in Rua Fonte Rosa, 6250-041, Belmonte, where the Synagogue Beit Eliahu (House of Elijah) was built. This is the only community in Portugal that can be considered truly Portuguese. Its members are descendants of crypto-Jews that managed to preserve many of the rites, prayers and social relations throughout the period of the Inquisition, marrying inside a community constituted by a few families.

 
Synagogue Bet Eliahu, Belmonte
Entrance of the Belmonte Jewish Museum
Belmonte center square
Inside the Synagogue Bet Eliahu
Inside the Synagogue Bet Eliahu

The Jews of Belmonte

The Jewish community settled here during the Middle Ages and the Jewry was located between the streets of Fonte da Rosa and Direita. It is possible that the town’s first synagogue might have been founded in 1297 and was then adapted to Christian cult. After King Manuel published the edict which expelled all Jews from Portugal, a group of Crypto-Jews remained in Belmonte and it has survived until today.

When you enter Belmonte, go down the Roman Sidewalk and enter the old Jewry at Direita and Fonte da Rosa streets where you will be able to see stone engravings in the threshold of the small granite houses, an evidence of the history of these Jews who were forced to live in secret. Head to the Bet Eliahu Synagogue, built upon a promontory at the far end of town, opening up to the valley. It was designed by architect Neves Dias and consecrated in 1996. At Portela Street you can also visit the Belmonte Jewish Museum which shows the History of the Portuguese Jews.

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Although they were often persecuted, these sons of Israel kept their basic Jewish rituals until today. They were a closed community and the women have preserved tradition and kept it alive for 500 years. Because of their isolation, the common use of Hebrew and many of their religious rites were lost, but it also allowed them to keep their Jewish roots. It was only in 1989 that the Sephardic Jews in Belmonte returned effectively to Judaism and founded the Jewish Community of Belmonte.

More about the Jews in Portugal
 

Contacts

CALL: (+351) 876 976 973

VISIT: Rua Fonte Rosa, 6250-041, Belmonte, Portugal
[See how to get there]

EMAIL: info@belmontejewishcommunity.org

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