Capital of the Portuguese province of Algarve. It was the seat of the district rabbi, or chief justice, appointed by the chief rabbi. Faro had Jewish inhabitants at an early date. They are mentioned in the municipal laws of Alfonso III. after the capture of Algarve. Alfonso IV. made the Jews of the locality sign a document in which they agreed to pay punctually the protection-money levied on them.
That the Jews of Faro did not altogether escape the cruelties of the Inquisition is evidenced by the burning of Estevainha Gomes of Faro at Lisbon June 17, 1590.
There was formerly a family of the name of Faro at Bayonne, where the tomb of Abraham Rodrigues Faro, who died in 1693, may be seen. In London David and Isaac of Faro are included in the list of subscribers to the synagogue of Bevis Marks (c. 1700). The tomb of Jacob of Faro's widow, who died in 1686, has also been preserved in London.
In 1902 Faro had 9,330 inhabitants, including about fifteen Jewish families. There are two synagogues, one founded about 1830, the other in 1860; a ḥebra ḳaddisha; and a cemetery dating from 1820, when the community was organized. The cemetery contains the ancient tombstone of Joseph ben Thone (?), a rabbi who died in 1315. The community supports a ḥazzan and a slaughter-house established in 1830.
- Archivo Torre do Tombo, Lisbon MS. No. 732;
- Auto da Fé de Lisboa, fol. 90;
- Tombes des Cimetières de Bayonne et de Londres, p. 253;
- Gaster, Hist. of Bevis Marks, pp. 74-78, 91-96;
- Kayserling, Gesch. der Juden in Portugal, pp. 7. 23.
A printing-press existed in the house of Don Samuel Giacon, at whose expense was printed in 1487 a Pentateuch with 110 leaves without pagination or register, in double columns, and with from 30 to 35 lines to a full page. The letters, square characters, are unequal; the vowels often incorrect, and in many cases wanting; dagesh and accents are not expressed. There seem to have been marginal notes printed on the top and bottom of the first five leaves, but the margins have been cut off. According to Häbler ("Typographie Ibèrique," p. 38), this was the first Hebrew book printed with vowel-points. Moreover, it appears from the long list of printing-presses in the Iberian peninsula, publislied by Häbler ("The Early Printers of Spain and Portugal," London, 1897), that this was absolutely the first book printed in Portugal. Only one copy is known to exist, that now in the British Museum, and which formerly belonged to Almanzi. See illustration on page 345.
- Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. No. 1092;
- Zedner, Cat. Hebr. Books Brit. Mus. p. 799.