PERPLEXING POR­TUGUESE PIECE

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - LETTERS | CONTENTS -

Hav­ing vis­ited Por­tu­gal this sum­mer, we looked for­ward to read­ing your story about tour­ing the coun­try (“Walk­ing the Por­tuguese Way,” Oc­to­ber 18).

On our trip, we were also im­pressed with the nat­u­ral beauty and his­tor­i­cal lo­ca­tions. How­ever, we can­not un­der­stand why the Mag­a­zine de­voted five full pages to a trek by Brian Jablon to the church burial site of a de­cap­i­tated apos­tle with­out a sin­gle men­tion of the long his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tion be­tween Por­tu­gal and the Jews end­ing, at least pub­licly, with the In­qui­si­tion in 1497.

Re­cently, con­sid­er­able in­for­ma­tion has ap­peared tes­ti­fy­ing to the heroic ef­forts of Jews to main­tain and trans­mit their Jewish iden­tity in se­cret, de­spite the risks en­tailed. In­qui­si­tion-related ex­e­cu­tions con­tin­ued un­til 1824. The town of Bel­monte, not far from the Span­ish border, is one com­mu­nity with hun­dreds of years of con­firmed ge­nealog­i­cal records of con­tin­ued mar­riages only within the Jewish com­mu­nity. Hid­den syn­a­gogues, mik­vaot and Jewish rit­ual ob­jects are some of the ev­i­dence of se­cret Jewish life be­ing dis­cov­ered.

It is dis­ap­point­ing that the trav­el­ers did not seek out any­thing con­nected to Ju­daism, de­scribed their Shab­bat travel and com­pletely non-kosher diet, and cel­e­brated the Chris­tian pil­grim­age con­nec­tion, which in­ci­den­tally has only tragic mean­ing to Ju­daism. Trav­el­ing on a trail seems fas­ci­nat­ing, but couldn’t you have put this ar­ti­cle in the pa­per in July in­stead of the Jewish high hol­i­day sea­son?

We could write a five-page ar­ti­cle cel­e­brat­ing the 30% of the Por­tu­gal pop­u­la­tion that are proud of and re­con­nect­ing with their Jewish roots. The Mag­a­zine presents a va­ri­ety of ar­ti­cles, but it was in poor taste to present a visit to a place of strong Jewish iden­tity and not even give pass­ing men­tion to that while em­pha­siz­ing de­struc­tive tra­di­tions. SARAH AND DAVID MASLOW

Jerusalem

I found your five-page ar­ti­cle on Por­tu­gal to­tally in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the in­ter­me­di­ate Sab­bath of the Sukkot hol­i­day, one of the three pil­grim­age festivals to Jerusalem. The ar­ti­cle re­lates to the writer’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in a 12-day trek that the Catholic faith­ful make on foot from Porto in Por­tu­gal to the burial place of Je­sus’s apos­tle James, in San­ti­ago de Com­postela in Spain.

Was this in­tended as some kind of coun­ter­bal­ance to the march of Chris­tians from sev­eral coun­tries who join Is­raelis in Jerusalem an­nu­ally, evok­ing bi­b­li­cal proph­e­sies on the fes­ti­val of Sukkot??

DONYA MEIJER Jerusalem

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