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The Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue will host a discussion on the historic and cultural Jewish heritage of Portugal on Wednesday, June 26 at 7 p.m.

(TRAVPR.COM) UNITED STATES - June 20th, 2013 - New york, NY --Congregation Shearith Israel – The Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue will host a discussion on the historic and cultural Jewish heritage of Portugal on Wednesday, June 26 at 7 p.m. The discussion will include Professor Jane Gerber, Director of the Institute for Sephardic Studies at the City University of NY, and Professor Paulo Mendes Pinto, from Lisbon University and Coordinator of the Alberto Benveniste Sephardic Studies Department. The event is in collaboration with the Portuguese National Tourist Office and Centro de Portugal Tourism Agency as a part of “Meet Portugal in New York.”

An evening service will be held at 6:45 p.m. and all are welcome. A tour of the synagogue, at 2 W70th St., will precede the event.  RSVP to 

This event follows a recent gesture from the Portuguese Republic of expedited citizenship for Sephardic Jews of Portuguese heritage. On April 2013 The Portuguese Parliament unanimously approved the granting of Portuguese nationality to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Portugal after the fifteenth century

Congregation Shearith Israel

Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in the City of New York, was founded in 1654, the first Jewish congregation to be established in North America. Its founders were twenty-three Jews, mostly of Spanish and Portuguese origin, who had been living in Recife, Brazil.  When the Portuguese defeated the Dutch for control of Recife, and brought with them the Inquisition, the Jews of that area fled.  Some returned to Amsterdam, where they had originated. Others went to places in the Caribbean, such as St. Thomas, Jamaica, Surinam and Curacao, where they founded sister Sephardic congregations.  One group of twenty-three Jews, after a series of unexpected events, landed in New Amsterdam.  Governor Peter Stuyvesant, who did not wish to permit Jews to settle there, did not welcome them.  However, these pioneers fought for their rights and won permission to remain. 

Jewish Heritage in Portugal

Between the 5th and the 15th centuries a Jewish community established itself in Portugal, contributing in many ways to the flourishing of the Portuguese culture. Members of this community, which included philosophers, humanists, scientists and dealers, were protected by the monarchy. They contributed to the financial and scientific growth during the Portuguese Era Exploration. The mathematician and cosmographer of the 16th century, Pedro Nunes was the author of the “Treaty about the Sphere.” In 1496, the Edict of Expulsion of the Jewish issued by the Spanish Monarchs was also enforced by the Portuguese king, forcing all Jewish people to convert and become “New-Christians.” Many of them left the country and others stayed professing their faith, secretly. The signs and the inscriptions of that time can still be seen carved on the doors of the ancient Jewish areas, in towns like Belmonte, Guarda, Castelo de Vide and Tomar. 


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Name: Miguel Carvalho
Company: Portuguese National Tourist Office
Phone: (646) 723-0213
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