Sign In Forgot Password

From Portugal to the Netherlands: Purim and Queen Esther among the Former Forced Converts Portuguese Community of Amsterdam with Shalom Sabar

Monday, February 26, 2024 17 Adar I 5784

7:45 PM - 8:45 PMCBS Sanctuary

Course Description: 

Forced to convert to Christianity in 1497, the once prosperous Jewish community of Portugal started to lead new degrading ways of life as "New Christians" (Cristãos Novos). As it developed in the following centuries, selected components of some Jewish rituals and holidays were secretly preserved at great risk. Among these, an unusual place was given to Purim, a minor holiday, and its heroine, Queen Esther. In the lecture, we will examine how Purim gained such a special status and Esther's role in this development. This situation was intensified by the opportunity given to the Portuguese Jews to immigrate to the Netherlands during its "Golden Age" in the 17th century, where they were permitted to return to their Judaism freely. In the community established in the capital city of Amsterdam, magnificent Purim balls were celebrated elegantly, and the artistic genre of elaborately illustrating the Esther scroll flourished. The illustrations in the scrolls amazingly correspond with the Esther story in Dutch art of the time, including that of Rembrandt; at the same time, they reflect the lives and ideologies of the Portuguese Jewish elite of Amsterdam's Golden Age. 

About Shalom Sabar: 

Shalom Sabar, author of Ketubbah: The Art of the Jewish Marriage Contract was born in neo-Aramaic speaking Kurdish-Jewish community in Zakho, Iraq.  He studied art history and related fields at the Hebrew University and UCLA, where he earned his PhD on the illustrated Ketubbah (marriage contract) in the life of Italian Jews during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His research joins together the disciplines of art history, Jewish history, and folklore highlighting issues such as the folk nature of Jewish art and Jewish material culture, visual materials and objects associated with rituals in the life and year cycles, and the evidence these materials provide about Jewish daily life and the relationships between the Jewish minorities and the societies that hosted them in Christian Europe and the Islamic East.

Sorry, Registration has ended.

Share Print Save To My Calendar
Fri, April 19 2024 11 Nisan 5784