‘Hip’ is not always meant positively. So I was prepared for the worst when I read the first lines of the editorial in The Jerusalem Post… Are they sarcastic? Don’t they like Lisbon?
We have close friends in Israel and don’t want them to get the feeling that Lisbon is over hyped – that the hot air in the balloon will cool down before they have visited us.
My fear was no less when I saw the picture that followed the story. Maybe the worst photo of Ponte 25 de Abril I’ve seen… quite an achievement considering the quality of the camera we all have in our cell phones.
I was drawn into Gil Zohar’s vivid description of Lisbon.
Through the historical highlights and facts – which most media mention (the earthquake, Vasco da Gamba, the Portuguese Empire etc.) – he manage to ‘sell’ all the main attractions without the use of a single photo.
And then, unlike all other travel stories we’ve read so far, he goes one step further and highlights – for obvious reasons – the Jewish background to some of the most popular sights and parts of town. Sights that either is a part of our daily life and/or surround us when we leave the door and.
Of course we know that the Jews were here – but mostly from the history of the Portuguese Kitchen – especially the Alheira de Mirandela that was created by the Jewish as part of an elaborate decoy to trick the Portuguese Inquisition into thinking they were Christian.
Now I will always think about the massacra from 1506 when I cross Rossio.
And when we cross Marques de Pombal I will always think about how Sebastião de Melo achieved what his colleague Haussmann achieved a century later in Paris.
At least 300 – maybe more.
Why did it take me so long time to find a story about a part of Lisbon’s history that obviously has had big impact on not only many of the touristic sights, but also the whole City. Is it because of bad journalism?
Or has it something to do t´with the Jews – after all Richard Zimler’s bestselling novel The Last Kabbalist was initially rejected by 24 American publishers before it got published.
Or maybe it’s a combination.
Any way – after reading the Lisbon story in The Jerusalem Post I’m going to revisit a lot of places in Lisbon.
But first I have to read The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon.
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