Jews in Goa By Nissim Moses Historian

Due to the author’s involvement in the study of the Heritage of the Bene-Israel of India and their Communal Integrated Family Tree, some interesting material was forwarded by Mr. Cyril Fernandez; a Goa based Journalist through Mr. Ezekiel Malekar, the Secretary of the Judah Hyam Synagogue in New Delhi. Further, additional interesting material was sent by Mr. Joshua Benjamin-Ex Chief Architect of the Government of India. Finally, a personal study of the subject revealed some hitherto unknown information on a Marrano Jewish community that up to very recently was not known to have existed or flourished in the Portuguese Colony of Goa located on the West Coast of India. It is intended that this article might create interest in initiating research into the subject of studying the settlement of Marrano Jews in India. Prior to the Inquisition in Portugal, many Jews being mainly involved in the spice trade, commerce, import and export of commercial items, spread out to all colonies of the Portuguese domain of influence. The Portuguese Jews arrived in India as traders probably well before the year 1500 CE when it was socially acceptable to be Jewish in Portugal. Between the time of their arrival, the capture of Goa (1510 CE) and the beginning of the seventeenth century the Jewish Community flourished openly and then later as Marrano Jews. The full evil of the Inquisition and its terror through Criminal Priests later Canonized as Saints like Saint Francis Xavier (grave in Goa Church-Basilica of Bom Jesus) and others was only felt from around about the year 1560 onwards. Picture No-1 shows the location of the Jewish Community in the erstwhile Colony of Goa. Picture No-2. Shows-the location of the Jew Street (about 600 meters long) and the dwelling area of the then Jewish Community in Goa. Finally it also shows the location of the villa of the most famous resident of Goa a Marrano Jew of international repute Dr. Garcia-De-Orta and is located between the Basilica de Bom Jesus and the Church of St Francis of Assisi. The area of the Jewish Settlement and the residence of Dr Garcia-De-Orta are a part of the garden of the Archaeological Survey of India. Dr. Garcia-De-Orta was brought to India by the then Viceroy and for his excellent services rendered to the Senior officials of the colony and the military and as a token of their appreciation was given one of the major islands of what later developed into Bombay City. The purpose of this was to enable Dr. Garcia-De-Orta to study the “Flora and their Medicinal Properties” of these tropical islands. Based upon his studies Dr. Garcia-De-Orta wrote a book “Coloquios Dos Simples & Drogas He Cousas, Medinias Da India” in Goa in Portuguese and published by another Jewish printer Joao De Endem in 1563. This book was later translated and published in English by Sir Clemens R. Markham, London in 1913. He was the first European to write and publish a book on tropical medicine and attempt to synthesize between western, eastern and oriental medicine. Dr Garcia’s book was later adapted and edited by another reputed surgeon and scientist of the Jewish Faith, Dr. Christovao da Costa who came to Goa from Mozambique (between 1568-1571). His book was printed in Burgos in 1578 and was titled “Tractado de las Drogas”. Dr Garcia-De-Orta passed away sometime between 1568 and 1570. As per the accounts given by his sister to the “Tribunal of the Inquisition” he was buried in a traditional Jewish manner. At the persistence and insistence of Saint Francis Xavier the Inquisition was instituted in 1561 and lasted till 1774 then restarted in 1579 and lasted till 1821. Up to that time the catholic priests and missionaries were often involved in violent acts of converting the Hindus and Muslims to the Christian faiths. With the institution of the Inquisition they turned their full wrath on the Marrano Jewish community of Goa. They

learned that the sister of Dr Garcia-De-Orta being a Marrano Jew, practicing Judaism, brought her before the tribunal and upon whose decree she was burnt alive at the stake. Learning from her testimony that Dr. Garcia-De-Orta had been a practicing Jew they exhumed and burnt his bones. Prior to the inquisition in 1543 a Dr Jeronimo Dias a Marrano Jew was strangled and burnt because his views conflicted with those of the Christian missionaries. The contribution of Dr. Garcia de Orta was not only to the medical sciences, but his Quinta or Manor House called “Bombay Castle” built on his estate in 1554, on the island of Bombay has recently undergone major renovation, restoration and conservation performed by work by Captain Christopher Chamberlain of the World Ship Trust. Recently, it was handed over to Admiral Mahadevendra Singh, Chief of Naval Staff –India, under whose inspiring leadership as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, the work was performed. Bombay Castle has grown to become what is now INS Angre, which includes the Naval Barracks, the Naval Dockyard and the Head Quarters of the Western Naval Command. This structure is closely related to the growth of Bombay as a commercial center and the maritime history of India. See Picture-3 of Bombay Castle- Reproduced from the Maritime Heritage -World Ship Trust Website. Besides the persecution of the Marrano Jewish Community through the Instrument of the Inquisition the priests & prelate of the Portuguese Catholic Church confiscated all Jewish Property and converted the synagogues to churches and probably destroying all historical records of their deeds. Recent interest among people of the Christian faith in Goa to develop a bridge and reconcile with their past have started to shed more light on the history of the Jewish Community in this area. Picture No. 4 represents three of the several synagogues that have been known to exist in the Goa area. These synagogues have been converted into churches or left to decay. These Pictures were sent to the author, by Mr. Cyril Fernandez; a Goa based journalist; who is trying to research the History of Jewish settlement in that area and single handedly generate interest in the heritage of a long lost and forgotten community of Marrano Jews who livid in Goa. Four Hundred years after the death of Dr. Garcia-De-Orta the Portuguese Colony of Goa issued a Postage Stamp (See Picture No-5, in honor of the contribution to medical science and Portugal has a 200 Escudo Coin with the picture of Dr. Garcia-De-Orta on it (See Picture No-6- Picture sent by & reproduced here with the Kind Courtesy of my Cousin Mr. David Ezekiel). How conveniently have the Portuguese forgotten the crimes that they have committed, against this great Portuguese Marrano Jew and his Family and others like him in the three hundred years of the “Inquisition”.

References
1. Jews of Cochin–India:-Joshua Benjamin- Published by the Jewish Welfare Association, New Delhi. 1.1 Jews in Goa by Percival Noronha in above. 1.2 Communication Note on Dr. Garcia-De-Orta by Joshua Benjamin 2. Picture of Bombay Castle from World Ship Trust Website – After renovation, restoration and reconstruction work performed on it by that organization. 3. Pictures of Churches-Forwarded by Mr. Cyril Fernandez - Personal communication. –Note of author Persons interested in researching this subject of the Conversion of synagogues to churches in the Goa Area-may contact Mr. Cyril Fernandez. 4. Commemoration Stamp of Dr. Garcia-De-Orta issued by the Portuguese Colony of Goa – Picture from Encyclopedia Judiaca. 5. Photograph Sent by and Reproduced here with the Kind Courtesy of my cousin Mr. David Ezekiel.

Picture No-1 The above shows the Map of the Erstwhile Portuguese Colony of Goa. The Beige Color Markings show the Location of the Jewish Settlements as Communicated by Mr. Joshua Benjamin-Ex Chief Architect to the Government of India.

Picture No-2 Shows the Location of The Jew Street, the Jewish Settlement and the location of the Villa of Dr. Garcia-De-Orta in the City of Goa- as Communicated by Mr. Joshua Benjamin-Ex Chief Architect of the Government of India.

Picture No-3 Bombay Castle- The Quinta-Manor House- Constructed by Dr. Garcia Orta-as shown after renovation by the World Ship Trust on their website- This Maritime Heritage Website was the first Building on Bombay Island. Now within the confines of INS Angre-the Head Quarters of the Western Naval Command of India

Picture No 4- Shows Three Churches that could have been originally Jewish Synagogues in the opinion of Mr. Cyril Fernandez.

Church in Uppermost Picture- Located on Divar Island-The Narao Monument – Now Chapel of Our Lady of Camdelaria. The Portuguese converted it into a prayer and catechism house in 1563. The sacristy was added and the front part extended. In Picture No1 it is the uppermost marked settlement. Church in the Middle Picture- Ancient Monument on Chorao Island- Very Similar to the Monument above except that it has Tiled Polygonal Roof on and the top is Octagonal. As per the records of the Church it is the Chapel of St Jerome. Being abandoned it probably was at one time a synagogue. Charo in Picture number 1 is just above Divar- the uppermost marked known settlement Church in the Lower Picture- Currently functioning as the Chapel of Jesus of Nazareth- At Siridao- In Map of Picture 1 it is the lower most marked Jewish settlement. – All Church Photographs Contributed by Mr. Cyril Fernandez

Picture No-5 Postage Stamp issued by the Erstwhile Portuguese Colony of Goa on the Four Hundredth Anniversary of Dr. Garcia Orta- Ref:- Encyclopedia Judiaca – Courtesy of Geoffrey Wigoder.

. Picture No 5 Portuguese 200 Escudo Coin Issued by Portugal- Above is the Original size of the coin – left is the enlarged replica.

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