Secret Codes Left by Portugal's Expelled Jews

Hebrew Letters and Markings Found in Ancient Homes


Published April 21, 2013.
Portuguese researchers have catalogued hundreds of secret markings that Jews left on structures in the northern Portuguese municipality of Seia in the 16th century, after their forced conversion to Christianity.
The team’s three members – Alberto Martinho, Jose Levy Domingos and Luiza Metzker Lyra – say they found 500 markings in Seia, including coded Hebrew letters and words carved into walls of homes where converted Jews used to live, as well as distinctive indentations in stone doorframes where the residents would have placed mezuzahs.
Martinho told Portugal’s Lusa news agency on Friday that the findings “elucidate the Jewish presence” in the region. According to Jose Oulman Carp, the president of the Jewish Community of Lisbon, Portugal had a Jewish population of about 400,000 Jews in 1536, when the Portuguese Inquisition officially began.
Many of the Jews in Portugal were refugees from neighboring Spain, where the Inquisition – an organized campaign of persecution led by the Catholic Church – began in 1492. Persecution in Portugal forced many Jews into exile, whereas those who stayed became known as “New Christians” though many of them continued to practice Judaism in secret and developed special customs to set themselves apart in discrete ways from the rest of the population.
The Portuguese parliament earlier this month passed a law which says descendants of Jews who left are entitled to citizenship. A similar bill is being prepared in Spain.
According to the researchers, who are scheduled to publish their full study within two weeks, they found 42 marked houses in the small village of Santa Marinha alone. The town of Trancoso has many more marked houses, they said.



Article 1. º
Amendment to Law n. º 37/81 of 3 October
Article 6. Of Law n. º 37/81 of 3 October, amended by Law n. º 25/94 of August 19, by Decree-Law no. 322-A/2001 of 14 December, as amended by Decree-Law n. º 194/2003, of 23 August, the Organic Law n. 1/2004, of 15 January, and the Organic Law n. 2/2006 of 17 April is replaced by the following:
'Article 6. º
1 - [...]
2 - [...]
3 - [...]
4 - [...]
5 - [...]
6 - [...]
7 - The Government may grant nationality by naturalization, with waiver of the requirements in paragraphs b) and c). of 
n. º  1, to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, through the demonstration of the tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on objective criteria proving connection to Portugal, including nicknamesfamily language, direct or collateral descendancy. "


Artigo 1.º
Alteração à Lei n.º 37/81, de 3 de Outubro
O artigo 6.º da Lei n.º 37/81, de 3 de Outubro, alterada pela Lei n.º 25/94, de 19 de Agosto, pelo Decreto-Lei n.º 322-A/2001, de 14 de Dezembro, na redacção dada pelo Decreto-Lei n.º 194/2003, de 23 de Agosto, pela Lei Orgânica n.º 1/2004, de 15 de Janeiro, e pela Lei Orgânica n.º 2/2006, de 17 de Abril, passa a ter a seguinte redacção:
«Artigo 6.º
1- […]
2- […]
3- […]
4- […]
5- […]
6- […]
7- O Governo pode conceder a nacionalidade por naturalização, com dispensa dos requisitos previstos nas alíneas b) e c) do n.º 1, aos descendentes de judeus sefarditas portugueses, através da demonstração da tradição de pertença a uma comunidade sefardita de origem portuguesa, com base em requisitos objectivos comprovados de ligação a Portugal, designadamente apelidos, idioma familiar, descendência directa ou colateral.»


April 12, 2013

The Portuguese Parliament today approved unanimously Portuguese nationality to the descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Portugal in the fifteenth century. The motions were proposed by the PS (socialist party) and CDS-PP (centre-right parties).

The motions by the PS and CDS-PP, both approved unanimously, provide for the attribution of Portuguese nationality by naturalization of the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who demonstrate, "a tradition of belonging to a community of Sephardic Portuguese origin, based on objective requirements proving linkage to Portugal, including nicknames, family names, direct or indirect descendants. "

Sephardic Jews are descendants of traditional Jewish communities of the Iberian Peninsula (Sefarad).

Targets of persecution in Spain, these communities took refuge in Portugal in the fifteenth century, where a law promulgated by King Manuel guaranteed them protection, a situation that changed in 1496 when the same king ordered the expulsion of all Sephardic Jews who did not submit to Catholic baptism.

Netherlands, the UK, North Africa and later Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and United States were the main destinations of these Jews, where even today there are descendants of communities expelled from Portugal.

O Parlamento português aprovou hoje por unanimidade a nacionalidade portuguesa para os descendentes dos judeus sefarditas expulsos de Portugal a partir do século XV proposta em projectos do PS e CDS-PP.

Os projectos do PS e CDS-PP, ambos aprovados por unanimidade, prevêem a atribuição da nacionalidade portuguesa por naturalização aos descendentes de judeus sefarditas portugueses que demonstrem “tradição de pertença a uma comunidade sefardita de origem portuguesa, com base em requisitos objectivos comprovados de ligação a Portugal, designadamente apelidos, idioma familiar, descendência directa ou colateral”.

Designam-se de judeus sefarditas os judeus descendentes das tradicionais comunidades judaicas da Península Ibérica (Sefarad).

Alvos de perseguição em Espanha, estas comunidades refugiaram-se em Portugal a partir do século XV, onde uma lei promulgada pelo rei D. Manuel lhes garantia proteção, situação que se alterou em 1496 quando o mesmo rei determinou a expulsão de todos os judeus sefarditas que não se sujeitassem ao baptismo católico.

Holanda, Reino Unido, Norte de África e mais tarde Brasil, Argentina, México e Estados Unidos da América foram os principais destinos destes judeus, onde ainda hoje se encontram descendentes das comunidades expulsas de Portugal.



Portuguese lawmakers to grant citizenship for descendants of expelled Jews

10 April 2013
The parliament of Portugal is scheduled to vote on whether to naturalize descendants of 16th century Jews who fled the country because of religious persecution. The motion will be brought to a first reading on Thursday by Portugal’s Socialist Party and is expected to pass since it also is supported by the ruling Social Democratic Party, according to José Oulman Carp, president of Portugal's Jewish community. Together, the parties hold 80 percent of the Portuguese parliament’s 230 seats.
Carp called the motion “a huge development” and told JTA it proposes to give Portuguese citizenship to descendants of the Portuguese Inquisition, which began in 1536 and resulted in the expulsion of tens of thousands of people and the forced conversion into Christianity of countless others. Portugal had a Jewish population of about 400,000, many of them refugees from neighboring Spain, where the Inquisition started in 1492.
Spanish lawmakers are said to be drafting a similar motion on their country’s Jewish refugees.
“There is no way of knowing for certain how many people would become eligible for Portuguese citizenship if the law passes and there is no bureaucratic system yet for vetting applications – all of that will have to come later,” said Carp, who has lobbied for the bill for several years. He hopes it will help attract new members to the country’s Jewish community of 1,000-1,500 people. The community would be involved in reviewing applications, he said. Many Portuguese refugees of the Inquisition settled in Turkey.
Popular support for the motion stems from a desire to “make amends” for a dark historical chapter in Portugal – a country which Carp describes as being “virtually free of anti-Semitism.” Some also hope the law would also attract investments by Jews seeking to settle in Portugal, one of the European Union’s most vulnerable economies.

 http://www.worldjew ishcongress. org/en/news/ 13379/portuguese _lawmakers_ to_grant_ citizenship_ for_descendants_ of_expelled_ jews