Tânia Rico: The Jews of Elvas (Portugal) and their Synagogue
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: Who was Luís Gomes da Mata, and what prominent Spanish Jew was his ancestor?
Elvas is a Portuguese municipality and frontier fortress, located less than 10 miles from the Spanish border. Because of this, its own historic Jewish population was greatly increased when Jews fled Spain at the time of the Expulsion in 1492. Local archeologists have recently discovered one of the town’s ancient synagogues, which they are the process of restoring, in order to use it as an information center for Elvas’ Jewish history and traditions. The synagogue had been used as a slaughterhouse and, as you can see in the picture on this page, the tiles over its doorway are still a reminder of this.
We visited Elvas recently and spoke with Tânia Rico, who works at the municipal library, about the history of the Jews in Elvas, and the town’s plans for the synagogue building.