The Story of the Crypto-Jews of Portugal

From Lisbon to Porto, Portuguese Jewry from the Inquisition to the 21st Century

Dates: Every day April 24, 2013 - May 02, 2013
Speaker: Rabbi Chaim Weiner

The Foundation for Jewish Studies is fully subscribed for this exciting travel/study tour of Portugal.  We regret we are unable to add new registrants.


  • In December 1496, King Manuel I of Portugal signed the decree expelling the Jews from his country. Thus started the long saga of the Crypto-Jews of Portugal. In this trip we will discover how the story of the Crypto-Jews continues to inspire Jews in Portugal today. One of the great highlights will be when we meet in Lisbon with the community of descendants of Conversos from Inquisition times who are studying Judaism with Rabbi Jules and Navah Harlow. The Harlows were our guests in February 2012. We highly recommend that in preparation for the trip you listen to their remarks as a podcast on our website.
  • There will be many other highlights. We will spend Shabbat with the local Jewish community in Lisbon, visit hilltop towns that sheltered hidden Jews for hundreds of years, visit Portugal’s two main cities – Lisbon and Porto – and its only National Park – the Serra de Estrela and the beautiful Douro River valley – the home of Port Wines. We will also take a river boat cruise from Porto. From the beautiful town of Castello De Vide to the world famous Gulbenkian Museum, you will not want to miss this trip.
  • As one of the historical themes of this trip, we will learn about one of the most influential leaders of the Jewish people in the middle ages - Don Isaac Abravenel. As the leader of the Jewish community, both in Spain and in Portugal at the time of the expulsion, and as a senior advisor to the Royal Households of both countries, he was in a unique and tragic position. You will discover how his leadership still has echoes in Jewish life today.


  • Touring begins Thursday, April 25th. (Most flights from the U.S. to Lisbon arrive in the morning. In order to be fresh for touring on the 25th, we recommend leaving the U.S. on Tuesday, April 23 and arriving in Lisbon on Wednesday morning, April 24. We will cover that night, April 24, in the hotel.)
  • Day 1, Thursday April 25: Orientation. General Tour of Lisbon including former sites of the Inquisition Court and of the Auto de Fe, and the Alfama Neighborhood where the old Jewish quarter was housed, in addition to sites of general interest. We also will visit the charming suburb of Belem (Bethlehem in Portugese), with its castles and monastery. Vasco da Gamma set sail from this town. Overnight in Lisbon.
  • Day 2, Friday, April 26: Half-day trip to Sintra – the Royal Court of Portugal in the 14th Century. We return to Portugal to prepare for Shabbat and meet with the Masorti (Conservative) Jewish community for Shabbat services and dinner. Overnight, Lisbon
  • Day 3, Saturday, April 27: Shabbat services and lunch. In the afternoon we will take a short walk from our hotel to the world-famous Gulbenkian Museum. Free evening. Overnight in Lisbon
  • Day 4, Sunday, April 28: The Crypto-Jews. We set out to visit the villages which housed communities of hidden Jews for over five centuries including Tomar, Castel de Vide. We visit the border crossing between Portugal and Spain where 15,000 Jews crossed into Portugal at the time of the Spanish expulsion. We stay overnight in the mountain town of Castelo Branca.
  • Day 5, Monday, April 29: The mountains of eastern Portugal to Guardia, Belmonte, the Sierra de Estrela national Park. Overnight in Porto.
  • Day 6, Tuesday, April 30: Douro River Cruise. Famous for its port wines, the cruise blends untouched rustic town and villages and ambrosial views and many popular port wine vineyards.    Overnight in Porto.
  • Day 7, Wednesday, May 1: Porto. Mekor Hayim Synagogue. The museum is dedicated to the “Apostle of the Marranos” and the beginning of the return to Judaism. Open bus tour of Porto.  Return by bus to Lisbon. 
  • Day 8, Thursday, May 2: Flight home.


  • Hotels, subject to change, include Zenit Lisboa; Ipanema Park, Porto; and TRYP Colina Do Castelo Hotel, Castelo Branco.

Our Tour Guide: Rabbi Chaim Weiner

  • Our guide and tour organizer, Rabbi Chaim Weiner, has worked with the Harlows in his capacity as Director of the European Masorti (Conservative) Bet Din in London where the Harlows bring their students for conversion. Rabbi Weiner combines his scholarly presentations with thorough knowledge of the people and places he visits. He has led Jewish trips to Portugal as recently as 2008. Rabbi Weiner’s trips are more than tourist visits. His aim is to engage with the issues that concern modern Jews – history and culture, the meaning of contemporary Jewish practice, issues facing Jewish communities today around the world. His trips all feature an outstanding educational program together with unique access to local Jewish communities.


  • Includes full breakfasts daily, Shabbat meals, bus and riverboat transport, and all entrance fees.
  • Land only $2,250 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement is $400.
  • Thank you for your interest, we are fully subscribed and not accepting additional registrations.


  • The Foundation for Jewish Studies (FJS) assumes no responsibility or liability for and cannot be held liable for any injury, damage, loss, accident or delay which may be occasioned (a) by reason of defects in any vehicle or facility or through the acts or default of any company or persons engaged in conveying the passenger or providing any tour service or (b) through any tardiness, misconduct or illegal acts on the part of any passenger. FJS reserves the right to cancel any tour at any time prior to departure for any reason. In the event of such cancellation, FJS will refund all monies paid in deposit or otherwise at the time of cancellation and such refund will constitute full and final settlement to the passenger for such cancellation.

Cancellation Schedule:

  • Cancellation before February 1 – Loss of $250 Deposit
  • Cancellation from February 1 to March 14 – Loss of 25% of total cost of tour
  • Cancellation from March 15 to April 1 – Loss of 50% of total cost of tour
  • Cancellation after April 1 – Loss of total cost of tour



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