New film on 1506 massacre of Lisbon Jews garners worldwide attention

New film on 1506 massacre of Lisbon Jews garners worldwide attention

Poster for the film “1506”.

By Brooke Sarah Borden

The Jewish community of Porto has released a trailer for a full-length historical film about the massacre of the Jews of Lisbon that took place in the Portuguese capital in 1506. The trailer has received over 150k views on YouTube so far. 

The film, titled “1506", will premiere on April 19, 2024, exactly 518 years since the massacre occurred. It was produced by Portuguese company LightBox and the script, which aims to accurately recreate the historical event, was based on research carried out at the Alberto Benveniste Research Center for Sephardic Studies at the University of Lisbon. 

Public debates are planned to accompany the release of the film in April and May in Miami, New York, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, London, Paris, Marseille, Brussels, Porto and Lisbon. It will be available for free online viewing in a variety of languages across multiple platforms. 

The Lisbon massacre

As many as 4,000 Jews were brutally murdered in the Lisbon massacre between April 19 and 21, 1506. 

The massacre began in the Church of São Domingos when a crowd of churchgoers, who were praying for an end to the drought and plague affecting the country, attacked and killed several "New Christians" within the congregation whom they suspected of being Jews. 

Poster for the film “1506”

The "New Christians" were mainly Sephardic Jews who had been forcibly converted and baptized into the Catholic Church following the Alhambra Decree, also known as the Edict of Expulsion, which required Jews to convert to Catholicism or be expelled from Spain.

A mob formed and began killing any "New Christians" they came across. Authorities failed at subduing the mob and violence spread throughout the city, with "New Christians" being murdered and their homes being looted. Dominican friars from the Monastery of São Domingos encouraged the violence, urging the mob to kill the "heretics" and "extinguish the wicked race."

Connection to October 7

“To know the massacre of 1506 in Lisbon is to know the events of October 7, 2023, in Israel and the historic massacres perpetrated against the Jewish people throughout Europe," said Gabriel Senderowicz, president of the Porto Jewish community and a member of the European Jewish Association. 

"The only change is the weapons used. ‘October 7 did not exist in a vacuum,” Antonio Guterres said, and he is right."

Porto's Jewish community

The Jewish community of Porto has been active in promoting Jewish culture, history, and education over the past decade and has previously produced other films about the history of the Jews in Portugal. 

One such film is “1618,” which recounts the story of the Inquisition in Lisbon and won the largest number of international awards for a Portuguese film. 

Another film is “Sefarad,” which recounts the story of the Jewish community of Porto over the past hundred years. The Jewish community of Porto was only officially reestablished in 1923 by Captain Barros Basto, known as the “Portuguese Dreyfus” after he was persecuted for his efforts to reestablish a Jewish community in Porto, some four centuries after it had been destroyed by the Portuguese Inquisition. 

Among the important projects led by the community over the past decade are the Jewish Museum in Porto and the Holocaust Museum, which in the past two years have hosted more than 100,000 schoolchildren, constituting 10% of all schoolchildren in Portugal. 

Source: The Jerusalem Post