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Angra do Heroísmo ,  October 02, 2009

Angra Museum exhibits 19th-century manuscript of Jewish community in Angra

The Angra Museum exhibits a Tefillat Yesharim, a recently acquired document in London, at the Highlight Room starting on October 6.
It is a prayer book written Mimon Abohbot (1800-1875), a Jew of Moroccan origin, who settled in Angra in the beginning of the 19th century and purchased the former Esperança Monastery in 1835, located in Rua da Sé, which was rebuilt and converted into a synagogue named “Árvore da Vida” (Tree of Life).
Tefillat Yesharim means “Prayers of the Righteous,” more precisely “The Prayer of those who follow the Righteous Path.” The concern to preserve the ancestors’ faith led Mimon Abohbot to consider as an example to be followed the work by rabbi David Bem Rephael Meldola, who published the first work with this title and purpose in Amsterdam in 1740 in accordance with Sephardic rite of the Jewish-Portuguese community of that Dutch city.
This manuscript by Mimon Abohbot, with a beautiful gilt binding, includes a collection of prayers for the week, the Sabbath and other festivities in addition to other biographic details on the Jewish community in Angra. Two prayers, one for those who voyage by sea and other for the King of Portugal, are especially interesting given their insular and Portuguese context. Furthermore, it also includes three menorahs (prayer in the form of a seven-branch candelabrum) composed by words taken from psalms. Thus, these prayers, written as menorahs, were regarded as protection and good luck amulets.
The exhibition “Tefillat Yesharim - a 19th century manuscript of the Jewish community in Angra” (Tefillat Yesharim -  um manuscrito oitocentista da comunidade hebraica em Angra) may be visited at the Highlight Room of the Angra do Heroísmo Museum until January 24, 2009.


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