From a Jewish quarter in Morocco an empire was born in the Azores.

It was not easy the lives of Sephardic Jews who inhabited the coastal towns of Morocco, where they had fled the Inquisition. The sultans tolerated the Jews, who filled their coffers. But whenever changed the monarch, they were the target of violence and extortion. Forced to live in Jewish quarters still had to wear distinctive clothing.

The knowledge of European social movements of the late eighteenth century, most favorable to religious tolerance, fueled the hope for a different life. Abraão Bensaude and other Jewish families arrive at the island of Sao Miguel in 1819. It is the maiden voyage of a journey that would lead to the creation of Bensaude empire, the largest private group of the Azores.

The account of the epic is written by Alfredo Bensaude in the book "The Life of José Bensaude" his father. He who was the founder of Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, adds as a reason to recover the prestige that the Jewish people had in Spain and Portugal. "The memory of the brilliant era of the Spanish-Portuguese-Jewish civilization never lost in the memory of descendants, who always considered peninsular". Because Spain was still closed at the beginning of the XIX century, "the Jews ventured out for Portuguese lands and some landed in the Azores," reads in the French translation of his work.

The change was not without risks. The Inquisition continued to exist, although without the power and prestige of yesteryears. Would be abolished by the Constituent Assembly on 24 March 1821. This did not prevent the "Moroccan Jews" as they were named, they had faced strong opposition from local merchants and discrimination by municipal authorities.

Abraão Bensaude was the first to settle in the Azores in Ponta Delgada. Pluck the business in 1820, the year that the Bensaude fixed as the date of its foundation. Like other families of Jews who arrived, Abraham was devoted to trade fabrics imported from the continent and England, thinner and sold cheaper than those made in the archipelago. Boats bringing the tissues led oranges, then the main economic support of the Islands, and cereals.

Translation from a nice Portuguese article on for whom might have interest.