Sunday, January 01, 2006

Portuguese synagogue discovered

Washington Times:

A chance discovery during renovations of a building in this Atlantic port city has revealed a secret from Portugal's past: a 16th-century synagogue.
Built at a time when Portugal's Jews had been forced to convert to Catholicism or risk being burned at the stake, the house of worship was hidden behind a false wall in a four-story house that Father Agostinho Jardim Moreira, a Roman Catholic priest, was converting into a home for old-age parishioners.
A scholar of Porto's Jewish history, he says that as soon as the workers told him of the wall, "I knew there had to be some kind of Jewish symbol behind it."
His hunch was confirmed when the wall came down to reveal a carved granite repository, about five feet tall, arched at the top and facing east toward Jerusalem. It was the ark where the medieval Jews kept their Torah scrolls. Pieces of decorative green tiles in the ark further confirmed the age of the ark when specialists dated their glazing to a method used in the 16th century...
The workers' sledgehammer solved an enigma that had baffled historians, said Elvira Mea, a lecturer at the University of Porto who specializes in Jewish history. Immanuel Aboab, a Jewish scholar born in Porto in the mid-16th century, had written that as a child he visited a synagogue in the third house along the street counting down from the 14th-century Our Lady of Victory Church.
But he didn't specify which side of the street, and archaeological digs turned up nothing.
"Everyone assumed Aboab had got his dates mixed up," said Miss Mea. "But it had been preying on my mind, and as soon as I saw the ark, all the pieces fell into place. I was so happy I could hardly believe it." ...
posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 7:30 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a few days late. :)

2:18 AM  
Anonymous Mendel Wannabe said...

I predicted this years ago.

Yechi Hamelech....

9:49 AM  

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