A Jewish heritage center was inaugurated July 15 in the Portuguese town of Monsaraz. The Interactive Center of Jewish Culture’s official inauguration was made by Portuguese cultural minister Luis Fillipe de Castro Mendes, and Israeli ambassador to Portugal Tzipora Rimon, according to a Saturday article by Portuguese newspaper Tribuna Alentejo.
According to Monsaraz mayor Jose Calixto in an interview with Portuguese internet service provider SAPO, the center “aims to provide an in-depth view, with more content about a part of Monsaraz’s history and its Jewish community that previously had never been presented to the public in such a format.”
Around 600 Jews currently living in Portugal, according to Jewish Virtual Library. All of the country’s Jews were forcibly expelled in October 1497, following a decree from King Manuel I. Manuel’s decision was made under coercion from Princess Isabel of Spain, who agreed to marry him only on the condition that he expel the Jews. Manuel tried to mitigate the effects of his decision by making it more difficult for the Jews to leave Portugal, and converting as many as possible to Christianity, in order to prevent them from leaving and depriving the country of the economic strength the Jewish community provided.
The Portuguese government has recently allocated around $6 million to the state-funded Portuguese Jewish Network-Sefarad Routes, a project dedicated to preserving and commemorating Jewish cultural sites in the country. The project encompasses roughly 30 municipalities in central and northern Portugal, according to Jewish Telegraphic Agency.