The Rescue of the Portuguese Marranos

The Rescue of the Portuguese Marranos, 1996 (in Portuguese with parts in English) by David Augusto Canelo

Celebrating the 500 years of the Jews Expulsion edict from Portugal, Prof. David Augusto Canelo publishes in Portugal O Resgate dos Marranos Portugueses (The Rescue of the Portuguese Marranos), 216 p., 24x17cm.

This book talks about the following subject:

In 1926 in Oporto, Artur Carlos de Barros Basto, a Jew of “Marrano” origin who was a captain in the Portuguese army, began a movement aiming to bring into mainstream Judaism the “Marranos” who were then living in several places in the North (Trás-os-Montes) and interior (Beira Interior) of Portugal. Capt. Barros Basto secured logistic and financial backing from Jewish circles in other countries in order to realize the ambition of restoring Portuguese Judaism and to build the magnificent Kadoorie Mekor H'aim synagogue in Oporto, which was intended as a symbol of the reentry into Judaism of the Portuguese “Marranos”, who still secretly keep up some religious practices of Jewish origin.

However, this movement provoked hostile reactions within the “Estado Novo” (contemporary Portuguese regime) from circles in contact with nationalist, fascist and anti-semite thought. This led to the collapse of the organization and to the persecution of its main leader, Barros Basto, who was expelled from the Portuguese army in 1937, accused of lacking the moral integrity to continue his military career. Charged also with engaging in homosexual practices with students of the Hebrew School which he ran. The “Apostle of the ‘Marranos’” fell into disgrace.

As well as this, the internal intrigues within the Jewish conununity of Oporto, the low level of support which the Jews of Lisbon gave him, or were able to give him and principally (this is the key point) the conditional nature of the true essential character of the “Marrano” religion and the conditions of the Portuguese “Marranos” were determining factors for the “Work of Rescue” which achieved no noteworthy success.

It would not be far from the truth to say that when Paul Goodman, the leading light of the Portuguese “Marranos” Committee of London, died in London in 1949, he knew that the exceptional characteristics of the unique religious practices of the Portuguese Crypto-Jews were turning the rescue operation into a promised land.

Since the restoration movement of “Marrano” Judaism had no continuation, the traditions of Crypto-Judaism would continue to be observed in various parts of the Northern interior of Portugal, in particular and most wonderfully in Belmonte, where they are still kept up today.

David Augusto Canelo
Apartado 25
6250 Belmonte
EMAIL: tesc0658 @

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