Portuguese-speaking Jew in Israel

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

In the last 1400s the Roman Catholic Church and Spain were seeking to eliminate any heresy, meaning beliefs that didn't conform to Catholic doctrines. Protestants, Muslims and Jews were persecuted in Spain. Under duress, many "converted" to Roman Catholicism, but this left them open to greater persecution if they were even suspected of practicing Judaism. Many of these Sephardic Jews went to neighboring Portugal, but cruel persecution soon found them.

In 1536 at the request of Portuguese King Joas III, Portugal began what we call the Portuguese Inquisition. In Portugal, the Sephardic Jews were especially singled out for persecution. Some agreed to become Roman Catholics, but even then, they were often persecuted by suspicious Catholic authorities just as they were in Spain. Fleeing to colonies of either country was only a temporary fix; the Inquisition was soon extended there as well. The Jewish people of Portugal were scattered for five centuries. Eventually some made their home in Israel after she became a nation in 1948.

In 1987, Mario Soares, then president of Portugal, asked for forgiveness from the Jewish people in his country for Portugal's role in the Inquisition. In 2015 the Portuguese government offered dual citizenship to the descendants of those Jews who were expelled five centuries earlier. Some have returned to Portugal, but most remain in Israel.

Where Are they Located?

They are currently a distinct community of Jews, numbering 1,800, located in Jerusalem. They have a synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Those Sephardic Jewish people from Portugal are living peaceful lives in Israel. They have preserved traditions from Portugal, including folk songs, proverbs, and food. Some still use Portuguese names but others prefer Hebrew ones.

What Are Their Beliefs?

They practice the Jewish faith, but maintain their ethnic Portuguese identity and language in Israel. Some Portuguese Jewish individuals have given up on God and live secular lives. Some have turned to New Age beliefs. This is also true of many other Jewish people groups in Israel.

What Are Their Needs?

Numerous Christian resources are available in Portuguese, such as Bibles and presentations in print, audio and video. However, many Jewish people feel that Bible believing Christians are a threat, and evangelistic activities are opposed in some Jewish quarters. There are now Bible training colleges in Jerusalem and other cities in Israel. Portuguese Jewish background believers can attend these colleges.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Jew, Portuguese in Israel.

* Ask the Lord to open the minds of the Portuguese Sephardic Jews to listen to the gospel message and embrace their true messiah.
* Pray that Portuguese speaking evangelicals will feel called to minister to these Sephardic Jews in Jerusalem.
* Pray for a disciple making movement among Sephardic Jews in Israel to spread far and wide.



Profile Source:   Keith Carey  

People Name General Jew, Portuguese-speaking
People Name in Country Jew, Portuguese
Natural Name Portuguese-speaking Jew
Population this Country 1,900
Population all Countries 97,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Portuguese Jewish
People ID 14451
ROP3 Code 108133
Country Israel
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country Israel
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

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Primary Language Portuguese (1,900 speakers)
Language Code por   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Portuguese (1,900 speakers)
Language Code por   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Portuguese
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.10 %)
0.50 %
Ethnic Religions
96.50 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
3.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
20.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
20.0 %
Roman Catholic
60.0 %
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2022  Cabeca de Marmore / Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Profile Source Keith Carey  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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