Belmonte, Sephardic Jewish History

The community of Belmonte houses an important feature of the Sephardic Jewish history, related to the Jewish resistance to religious intolerance in the Iberian Peninsula.

In the sixteenth century, when the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula, and the reconquest of the Spanish and Portuguese land by Catholic kings and Manuel, a law that forced the Portuguese Jews to convert or leave the country was established.

Many of them ended up abandoning Portugal, for fear of reprisals from the Inquisition. Others converted to Christianity in official terms, keeping your worship and cultural traditions in the family.

A third group of Jews, however, took a more extreme measure. Several decided to isolate themselves from the outside world, cutting off contact with the rest of the country and following their traditions to the letter. These people were called “Marranos”, alluding to the ritual prohibition against eating pork. For centuries the Marranos of Belmonte maintained their almost intact Jewish traditions, making it an exceptional case of criptojudaica community. Only in the 70s the community established contact with the Jews of Israel and officially Judaism as their religion.

In 2005 was inaugurated in the city the Jewish Museum of Belmonte, the first of its kind in Portugal, showing the traditions and the day-to-day this community.

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