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July 29, 2021 3:07 pm

Portuguese Town to Sponsor Country-Wide Initiative Marking Routes Taken by Jews Fleeing 15th Century Persecution

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

People stand next to a memorial marking the Jewish Massacre of 1506, in Lisbon, Portugal, Nov. 18, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Catarina Demony

A town in Portugal will be the sponsor of a new initiative to mark the routes taken by 15th century Spanish and Portuguese Jews after they were expelled from those kingdoms.

Thousands of Jews were forced to choose between conversion to Christianity and expulsion in Spain and Portugal in 1492 and 1496, respectively.

Those who chose exile spread out across the entirety of Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and eventually the Americas.

The new project is called “El Kamino De Sefarad al Muevo Mundo” (The Sefarad Route to the New World), and will encompass thousands of kilometers throughout Spain and Portugal.

It is sponsored by the municipality of Castelo de Vide on the initiative of Mayor Antonio Pita, who is also vice president of the Jewish Cities Network in Portugal, and Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem.

Castelo de Vide itself has preserved much what remains of its Jewish community’s history, including a synagogue and Jewish quarter, and will soon open a museum dedicated to the Inquisition and its persecution of Jews.

The project will be coordinated by Walter Wasercier, vice president of Cámara de Comercio Hispano–Israelí (Hispanic-Israeli Chamber of Commerce) and former director of El Al in Spain and Portugal.

Israeli Ambassador to Portugal Raphael Gamzou also expressed support for the program, and participants will include local and regional officials, as well as organizations dedicated to preserving Jewish history and culture.

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