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sábado, agosto 28, 2010

Jewish students visit the house of Aristides in Cabanas de Viriato

Young Judaea, a Jewish youth movement associated with the Jewish women's organization Hadassah in the United States,  brought a group of students to visit the house of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Casa do Passal,  in Cabanas de Viriato recently and learn about his Act of Conscience from one of his grandsons. 

Large numbers of American students travel and live abroad in the  gap year between high school and college. 

Many Jewish students spend that year living, working and learning about their roots in Israel, as well as visiting  other locations of interest. 

Some of the heritage trips focus also on Lost Jewish Communities, which involves travel to Portugal, Uganda, South Africa and India.  

Portugal had several thriving Jewish communities 500 years ago and many vestiges can still be found today.   The Inquisition reached Portugal from Spain in 1497 and was characterized by an attempt to massively convert the Jews. Many Jews fled Portugal. With no place to go, some converted to Christianity, becoming known as New Christians or Marranos. Others had their children taken from them to be raised in Catholic homes. Some were imprisoned and tortured to death as they continued to practice their religion. Lastly, a large group pretended to convert to Christianity while secretly practicing Judaism, becoming Cryto-Christians.  Hundreds of years later, in modern day Portugal, they still remember fragments of their Jewish ancestry and some still practice Jewish rituals in secret, such was the case with the community in Belmonte.  The visitors to Portugal may meet some of these Jews who now struggle with their identity and with returning to a full Jewish life.
Sites worth visiting include:
- Jewish quarter Judiaria) of Porto, Tomar and Belmonte
- Wineries in the Porto and Dão regions
- Serra da Estrêla Nature Park

- In Lisbon, Rossio Square, site of Inquisition Trials and Memorial in the Largo de S. Domingos 

- Lisbon of the Refugees

- The Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon

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