A Jewish Museum in Lisbon

Lisbon, one of Europe’s oldest and most vibrant capital cities, will soon have a museum dedicated to Portugal’s long and very rich Jewish history.
The future Tikvá Museu Judaico Lisboa is the responsibility of Associação Hagadá, a private non-profit organisation whose aim is to promote the creation, construction, installation and management of the museum.
To this end, a collaboration protocol was drawn up between the Lisbon Municipal Council and the Associação Hagadá, whereby the Municipality will transfer the surface right over a plot of land in Belém, overlooking the Tagus River. Hagadá invited the prestigious international architect Daniel Libeskind to design the building, which he enthusiastically accepted.

Plot in Belém where the future museum will be built

A history dating back millennia

Judaism in the land we now know as Portugal has existed for almost two thousand years: a thousand years under the Romans, Visigoths and Moors, prior to the founding of the nation, and nearly another thousand years afterwards. The Jewish presence in Portugal is a uniquely long and culturally diverse story that confers an originality and specificity on Portuguese Judaism that is unparalleled anywhere in the world.

Despite the significant Jewish presence throughout the history of Portugal, until now Lisbon has been one of the few European capital cities without a museum to collect, preserve and disseminate this heritage. Tikva Jewish Museum Lisbon has filled a gap in the city’s cultural scene that “unveils” and gives form to part of a history that remains ignored by many, thus attracting those in Portugal and abroad who are interested in the multicultural dimension of Portuguese Judaism’s extremely rich history.

What is required is a work of memory. But something more than that. It also needs to be a project focused on the future, above all on the younger generations, that will inform people not only about the reality of Jewish culture in Portugal and the world but also about a history of light and dark, of hope and tragedy, that teaches us the value of cultural diversity and warns us of the risks of ethnic and religious intolerance. The name of the museum – Tikva, the Hebrew word for “hope” – has been carefully chosen.


A people’s history is also the history of their interaction with others. The life of the Jews in Portugal is a combined Jewish and Portuguese history. We will look at both based on moments, episodes and personalities that recount this close connection underlined by tolerance and persecution, love and hatred, banishment and longing, and return and reconciliation.
The Tikvá Museu Judaico Lisboa will tell the millenary history of the Jewish presence in the territory we now call Portugal, emphasising the contribution that Jews have made to their country and showing that Jewish history and culture are an intrinsic part of the history of Portugal.

Jewish culture as part of the Portuguese identity

Jewish culture has played an important role in Portugal, above all between the 12th and 15th centuries. Jews were artisans, doctors, mathematicians, astrologers and astronomers; they devoted themselves to trade and finance, and left an indelible mark on the history of the country.
In spite of the discriminatory measures imposed on the Portuguese Jews, during these centuries a period of coexistence reigned between the Jewish minority and the Christain majority. The Jewish community enjoyed religious freedom and was active within the economic, scientific and cultural fields, contributing to the country’s development.

This climate of tolerance was brutally interrupted at the end of the 15th century when King Manuel I signed the Edict of Expulsion, forcibly converted the Jews and established the Court of Inquisition in 1536. The Jewish neighbourhoods were abandoned, the synagogues, schools and bookshops destroyed and the cemeteries desecrated. The persecutions and the passage of time gradually erased the marks of over three hundred years of coexistence from the life and memory of the Portuguese people.

Photo: Stone tablet from the Great Synagogue of Lisbon, 1307.

Nevertheless, the signs of the Jewish presence in Portugal survive all around the country – in the architecture, street names, language, customs, culture and mentality – and all around the world through the Portuguese Jewish diaspora. Their contribution to the countries where they were welcomed is extraordinary. Still, they never forgot their “lost paradise”, which was remembered through the language and the names they gave to the synagogues and communities they rebuilt.

Judaism has undergone a slow resurgence, and a new Jewish presence exists in Portugal today. It consists partly of the descendants of former Iberian Jews, or Marranos, who kept their faith over the centuries; Jews of Moroccan origin who began to settle in Portugal at the end of the 18th century; Jews from Central and Eastern Europe, who arrived here in the 20th century following the anti-Semitic and Nazi persecutions, enriching the Portuguese Jewish community with Ashkenazi culture; and, more recently, by descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, expelled by the Inquisition, who, as a result of the approval in Portugal of the naturalisation laws, were able to acquire Portuguese nationality.

Meet the Team

Esther Mucznik


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Jean-Jacques Salomon


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Diana Ettner


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Manuel Pizarro


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Manuela Fernandes


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Ângela Ferraz


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Maria João Nunes


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Sofia Paiva Raposo


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Daniel Libeskind


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In order to set up and run the museum, a private non-profit association was created and this was given the name Hagadá. Why Hagadá? This word comes from the Hebrew verb leagid, which means ‘to say’, ‘to tell’ and ‘to narrate’. It is precisely this that the museum will do. It will tell a story – the story and the culture of the Portuguese Jews and their contribution to the nation to which they belong.

General Assembly
Paulo Almeida Fernandes · chair
Clara Kopejka Cassuto · vice-chair
João Schwarz · board member

Board of Directors
Esther Mucznik · chair
Jean-Jacques Salomon · vice-chair
Diana Ettner · board member

Audit Board
Samuel Tuati · chair
Jean-Claude Gofard · vice-chair
Ricardo Maissa · board member


The story that will be told at the Tikvá Museu Judaico Lisboa is validated by a Scientific Council that includes the best historians of the Jewish presence in Portugal. They are presented here in alphabetical order:

Historians (Portugal)

Elvira Cunha Mea

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Irene Pimentel

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José Alberto Tavim

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Lúcia Liba Mucznik

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Maria José Ferro Tavares

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Paulo Almeida Fernandes

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Advisory/Scientific Council (international)

under constitution