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PONTA DELGADA: SAO MIGUEL Island PDF Print E-mail

International Jewish Cemetery Project - Azores
In Ponta Delgada, Santa Cruz county

 

Shahak Hasamain Synagogue (1893- ), a 16th [?] century building downtown, remains, but in disrepair

  • Campo da Igualdade (Field of Equality) or Angra do Heroismo: In 1936, the cemetery had 133 graves of which 105 names are listed in: Gradwohl, David Mayer. Vuestra Memoria: Sephardic Jewish Cemeteries in the Caribbean and Eastern North America [or in Jose Maria Abecassis' Genealogia Hebraica. (Lisbon 1991)]
    Mentioned in Freedman, Warren. World Guide for the Jewish Traveler. NY: E.P. Dutton Inc, 1984.
    "The cemetery is at the present time surrounded by factory buildings and shut out from sight by a wall. The monuments are situated horizontally. It suffers from neglect. Crosses mark some of the graves, a well-known island practice, which purported to serve to keep anti-Jewish rhetoric muted." Source: http://www.isjm.org/Links/azores.htm [October 2000]
"It all ends with me" Frommer, Myrna Katz. "Letter from the Azores", Forward, January 9 1998: "I am the last Jew in all of the Azores," Jorge Delmar says... 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 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]

 
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