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Goa is a city and district on the W. coast of India, about 250 miles (400 km.) S. of Bombay, a Portuguese province from 1510 until 1961. The first Jew to be mentioned in Goa was Gaspar da Gama who was kidnapped by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and baptized.

From the early decades of the 16th century many New Christians from Portugal came to Goa. The influx soon aroused the opposition of the Portuguese and ecclesiastical authorities, who complained bitterly about the New Christians’ influence in economic affairs, their monopolistic practices, and their secret adherence to Judaism. As a result of these complaints the Portuguese Inquisition was established in Goa in 1560, and lasted, apart from a temporary suspension from 1774 to 1778, for almost 250 years.

Even before the Inquisition was formally established, a physician named Jeronimo Diaz had been burned in 1543 for maintaining heretical opinions. Many prominent New Christians became victims of the Inquisition in Goa. The great scientist Garcia de Orta was not affected during his lifetime, but 12 years after his death, in 1580, his remains were exhumed, burned, and the ashes thrown into the ocean.

In the latter part of the 16th century Coje Abrahão served as interpreter to the Portuguese viceroys, despite ecclesiastical objections. Eighteenth-century travelers refer to the existence of a synagogue and organized Jewish communal life, but this is doubtful.


Roth, Mag Bibl, 105–6; Roth, Marranos, 394; E.N. Adler, Auto De Fé and Jew (1908), 139–51; J.M.T. de Carvalho, Garcia d'Orta (Sp., 1915); A. Baião (ed.), A inquisiçào de Goa, 2 vols. (1945); Fischel, in: JQR, 47 (1956/57), 37–45.

[Walter Joseph Fischel]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.