Between Belmonte and Jerusalem there is a deep bond, besides the presence of the Jewish community. Alípio Henriques, decedent of a family with 500 years in the place, assures that when is sunny in the village, it also is in the Israelite capital
The Jewish community has solved the issues with its own past in a long time ago in the Historical Village of Belmonte. Alípio Henriques, 61 years old, Hotel Sinai owner, name taken by another hotel he saw in Tel Aviv, remembers how it felt like being a kid and Jewish in this historical village.
There wasn’t an assumed prejudice, anything like that, but there was a discreet discomfort, between two religions that didn’t know each other. From both sides. It was like a permanent soccer derby. “I remember very well that in the school, we always used to play Jewish against Christians”, he tells. Who used to win the games? “I don’t remember it, that depends. Sometimes ones did, other times the opposite side”, he explains laughing.
Nowadays, everything has changed a lot. “In the past, the Jewish kids had to have their eyes wide open. We used to learn everything way too soon. Nowadays, is not like that, they can have their eyes closed and can sleep. The life is very different”, he says. Today, the Jewish community in Belmonte has nothing more than 50 people. All of them are perfectly integrated in the local society.
Alípio Henriques keeps talking about his giant proud of his ancient origins. Born and raised in the Historical Village, specifically in the Rua Direita, known for having a lot of shoemakers that used to make their living there, comes the Diogo Henriques family. One of the most respected and antique families, is present for over 500 years in Belmonte.
Sometimes, even the strongest connections to a place force its distance. Even temporarily. Alípio Henriques is no exception to this rule. During a period of his life, looking for something better, he left to Israel, where he lived for some years, really close to Jerusalem. “Did you know that the weather in Jerusalem is exactly the same of Belmonte’s?, he suddenly asks. Facing hesitation in the answer, he proceeds. “If it’s sunny in Belmonte, you can believe is hot in Jerusalem. And if it’s raining in Jerusalem, you will also need an umbrella in Belmonte”, discloses Alípio Henriques, like who is proving that two distant places in the map, could be twins. Like both of them have set their weather forecast.
Jewish and singer
Before he invested in the hotel business, almost two years ago, because he felt Belmonte didn’t have a hotel in good conditions, Alípio Henriques had worked for many years, in the wool, plastics, skins, and dry gut market. Business historically associated to his family. He keeps taking the Jewish religion seriously, keeps praying, every morning, “before he does anything” and before the meals. His two kids respect a lot his religion, mainly, “when they are with me”. Both of them have made their life away from Belmonte. And Alípio Henriques accepts it with the spontaneousness of who understands the world. He himself has inside his breast more lives than his religious condition.
And if you want to make him happy, you can ask him about his singing. How are they? “I started to sing two years ago, in a musical group called Animato”, he proudly tells. Alípio Henriques sings a bit of everything. From The Beatles to Carlos Paião, going through Rui Veloso. The group has been successful in local concerts, always with great compliments. “In the other day, people asked to the organization how they have found a group like that. You should have to listen to us to see that what I’m talking about is true”. Here comes the dare.