Monday, 30 March 2009

Only synagogue left in the Azores to be renovated

The tiny Sahar Hassamain synagogue in Ponta Delgada (São Miguel island), built c. 1820, which has been redundant for many years and has fallen into a state of disrepaired, will soon be repaired and hopefully open to the public.


" Letter from the Azores (from FORWARD January 9, 1998)

"I am the last Jew in all of the Azores," Jorge Delmar says... He is a stocky man in his early 50's who runs an import- export business in Ponta Delgada, the capital city of Sao Miguel, the largest of the nine islands that comprises the Portuguese archipelago. "Thirty years ago, there were 16 Jewish families on this island," he adds. "We were a community. We had services in the old synagogue and made all the festivities in my grandfather's house. But all the others have died or converted or moved away. I am the only one left."

Mr Delmar's wife and children are Catholic. He says his wife sometimes asks him, "Why do you say you are a Jew? What happened to the Jews?" He tells her, "As my mother is a Jew, I am always a Jew. That's all."

The truth, though, is more complex. Mr Delmar's connection to the Azores began in 1818, when the Bensaude family of Morocco came to this volcanic outcropping, mythologized in lore as the remnants of the lost continent of Atlantis. The family made their fortune trading crops with England for manufactured goods, and trading bills of exchange while transporting emigrants to Brazil. In the process, they changed the nature of the Azorean economy, says professor of economic history at the University of the Azores, Fátima Sequeria Dias."

Read the whole piece here



Samuel Gruber said...

The article you post was written 11 years ago (1998). Do you have any new information on whether restoration has taken place? Thanks...I'd like to follow up on this.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately not.. Someone willing to invest money has to come. The synagogue really falls in ruins if nothing happens.

visitor 2012