|PONTA DELGADA: SAO MIGUEL Island|
International Jewish Cemetery Project - Azores
Shahak Hasamain Synagogue (1893- ), a 16th [?] century building downtown, remains, but in disrepair
"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 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. ... Jewish communities emerged throughout the islands. At one time there were five synagogues on Sao Miguel of Terceira and Fayal. Only one of the synagogues still remains: Shahak Hasamain, consecrated in 1893 in a 16th century building on a busy downtown street in Ponta Delgada. ...One group of Azorean-Americans still maintains its emporium on the island of Flores. Every year, a number of people travel to Flores, perform the rituals and partake of the festival. Afterwards, they clean up, close the doors to their little temple, and return to America. ... today the only evidence of a Jewish presence in the Azores is a couple of cemeteries and a deteriorating synagogue which Jorge Delmar, for the past 20 years, has struggled to preserve. He has been writing letters, meeting with government officials and trying to raise 200,000 dollars to restore the deteriorating structure.
"Its easy to be a Jew any place now," says the last Jew in the Azores. "But here we are soon to be no more. This synagogue should remain as a reminder that once we were here... I feel I have to do some thing. It all ends with me.". Source: http://www.saudades.org/delmer.html [April 2002]