Jew, Portuguese in Portugal

Jew, Portuguese
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2022
Cabeca de Marmore - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group location: World Jewish Congress, Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Jew, Portuguese
Country: Portugal
10/40 Window: No
Population: 3,300
World Population: 97,300
Primary Language: Portuguese
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Jews
Affinity Bloc: Jews
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

There were Jewish people in what is now Portugal as early as 482. This land was conquered by the Roman Empire. After that empire fell, Jews were persecuted by the new conquerors, the Visigoths. Ironically, in 711 when the Muslim Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), the Jews viewed them as liberators since this removed some of the persecution they experienced from the cultural Christians.


The word "Sephard" was the name used by Jews in medieval times for the Iberian Peninsula. Sephardim Jews, then, are the descendants of the Jews who lived in Spain or Portugal prior to expulsion in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Sephardim also have a distinctive language called Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish. This is a dialect of Castilian Spanish with Hebrew and Turkish elements.


Initially, most of the Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain went to neighboring Portugal. There they were under Portugal’s efforts to force them to convert to Roman Catholicism. Portugal has their own version of the Inquisition, which often singled out Jews. Many of these Jews moved on to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the New World where they were still threated.


The largest Jewish population in Portugal lives in Lisbon where there are two synagogues. One of them is for the Sephardic population and the other is for those who speak Ashkenazi. There are small Jewish communities in Porto and Belmonte.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today the Jewish community in Portugal is very small. They not only have synagogues, but also a cultural center, a kosher butcher, and there are various monuments to their history.


Jewish people in Portugal have been lawyers, models, businessmen, and workers in the tourist industry. Sephardic Jews are investing billions into the Portuguese economy. Some would say that the Jewish community in Portugal is flourishing.

What Are Their Beliefs?

For religious Jews, God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, and the ultimate judge of human affairs. Beyond this, the religious beliefs of the Jewish communities vary greatly. Orthodox Jews generally follow the traditional religious beliefs and practices found in the Jewish literature that interprets Scripture regarding ethical, religious, civil, and criminal matters.


Reform Jews do not believe that the Jewish Law is divinely revealed. They are not restricted to kosher foods. They neither wear the skullcap (yarmulke) when praying nor use Hebrew in prayer. All religious Jews believe in the coming of a Messianic Age, but only the Orthodox Jews look for a personal Messiah.

What Are Their Needs?

Jewish people have a wonderful understanding of their connection with the Abrahamic Covenant. However, they also have a history of rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah, the one who has fulfilled that covenant. They tend to view Christianity as the religion of their oppressors rather than the fulfillment of what God promised all of humanity through Abraham centuries ago.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to give the Jewish people in Portugal hearts that will want to please him. May they look to the Lord for guidance and truth, and not be satisfied with cultural traditions.


Pray for Jewish people in Portugal to begin a movement to Jesus Christ, finding ways to exalt him while honoring their culture.


Pray for the Lord to move among Jewish leaders in Portugal to open the doors to Christ’s ambassadors.

Text Source:   Joshua Project