Sunday, March 5, 2017

Portugal: Opposition to Jewish museum in Lisbon

Via Artuz 7:
Two municipalities in Portugal opened museums about their Jewish heritage amid protests by residents of the capital Lisbon against the ongoing construction of a third and larger one.

In the northeastern city of Braganca, the municipality last week opened a two-story Sephardi Interpretive Center that focuses on the life of Jews under persecution in 15th and 16th centuries. And on Thursday, a smaller Jewish Memorial Center opened in the town of Vila Cova à Coelheira east of the northern city of Porto.

Separately, the Association for Heritage and Population in Alfama organized a news conference Wednesday to express its opposition to the ongoing construction of the four-story Jewish museum being built in the neighborhood.

The building, which will feature a facade with a large Star of David, “breaks with the neighborhood’s tradition,” a spokeswoman for the residents association was quoted by the Public newspaper as saying in an article about the opposition published Wednesday.

The spokeswoman, Maria de Lurdes Pinheiro, also said residents were not consulted about the plan to erect the Jewish Museum of Lisbon in Alfama. Portuguese Jews had lobbied for decades for the construction of a Jewish museum in Lisbon – one of the few capital cities in Western Europe without such an institution -- until an agreement was reached in 2016.

Pinheiro insisted she does not oppose plans to erect a museum about Jews as such.

“Jewish museum, sure. But not in Sao Miguel Square,” she said in reference to the intended area where the museum is being built. She also said the planned museum does not fit the “atmosphere” of the neighborhood, which is one of Lisbon’s oldest and is considered a tourist attraction for its narrow hillside alleyways, with their many boutique restaurants, leading to the Sao Jorge Castle overlooking the Tejo River.

But Ester Mucznik, the former vice president of the Jewish Community of Lisbon, in 2016 said Alfama and Sao Miguel Square were “symbolic” choices for a Jewish museum because of their proximity to Lisbon’s historical Jewish neighborhood.

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