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Portuguese-Jewish Museum, Tomar

The Museu Luso-Hebraico Abraham Zacuto (Abraham Zacuto Portuguese-Jewish Museum) in Tomar is housed in the oldest synagogue in Portugal. It displays a variety of interesting artifacts from Tomar and around the world.

History

The Sinagoga de Tomar was built in the mid-15th century. Its short history as a Jewish place of worship came to an end in 1496, when the community was expelled by the Catholic authorities in 1496. The synagogue was subsequently put to such uses as a Christian church, a prison, the city hall, a warehouse, and a hayloft.

Samuel Schwartz, a Jewish mining engineer from Poland, bought the building in 1923. After lovingly restoring it, he donated it to the Portuguese state in 1939. In return, Schwartz and his wife received Portuguese citizenship and protection during World War II. Today the synagogue is a national monument and a museum.

What to See

The Portuguese-Hebrew Museum provides a look inside the oldest synagogue in Portugal as well as a recently-excavated mikvah (ritual bath). Exhibits include a number of 15th-century tombs with Hebrew inscriptions, as well as Judaica donated from around the world. Especially notable among the tombstones are one from the main synagogue in Lisbon dated 1307 and a 13th-century example from Belmonte with the name of God represented by three dots - similar to ancient Hebrew manuscripts from the Dead Sea.

The synagogue has a painted white facade. Inside, the prayer room is 8m square, with four pillars (representing Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah) and twelve pointed arches (symbolizing the 12 Tribes of Israel) in a Moorish style. A smaller room next to the main hall was discovered in 1985 to contain a mikvah, or ritual purification bath. Ceramic bowls excavated from the site are displayed around the pool.

Quick Facts on Portuguese-Jewish Museum

Site Information
Names:Jewish Museum of Tomar; Museu Luso-Hebraico; Portuguese-Jewish Museum; Portuguese-Jewish Museum, Tomar
City:Tomar
Country:Portugal
Categories:Synagogues; Museums
Faiths:Judaism
Dates:15th C
Status:museum
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Tomar, Portugal
Coordinates:39.603270° N, 8.414272° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Portuguese-Jewish Museum

Below is a location map and aerial view of Portuguese-Jewish Museum. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Frommer's Portugal, 20th ed.
  2. The Synagogue of Tomar, Portugal - Museum of the Jewish People

More Information

Article Info

Title:Portuguese-Jewish Museum, Tomar
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:04/06/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/portugal/tomar-jewish-museum
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/portugal/tomar-jewish-museum">Portuguese-Jewish Museum, Tomar</a>