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Portuguese town receives Torah scroll, Jewish learning center

(JTA) – For the first time in centuries, a Torah scroll will be installed in the Portuguese town of Trancoso, where many Jews lived before the 16th century.

The scroll was scheduled to be installed Sunday during the dedication of a new Jewish learning center, the Isaac Cardoso Center for Jewish Interpretation, the Portuguese news agency Lusa  reported.

It will be placed in the newly built Bet Mayim Hayim synagogue in the Cardoso center, which the Trancoso municipality built for approximately  $1.5 million with an eye toward attracting tourists, according to the Gazeta de Viseu local daily.

The center opened Friday at an event co-organized by the Jerusalem-based nonprofit organization Shavei Israel, which does outreach to people with Jewish origins in Portugal and elsewhere.

“More than five centuries after the expulsion of Portuguese Jewry, the streets of Trancoso, Portugal, will once again be filled with Jewish singing and dancing as we bring a sefer Torah to its new home,” Shavei Israel founder and chairman Michael Freund told JTA.

None of Trancoso’s 5,000 residents are Jewish, but the northern Portuguese town used to be half Jewish, according to Freund.

Earlier this month, Portugal’s parliament enacted an amendment to naturalize the Jewish descendants of expelled Jews.

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