Lisbon has a small Jewish community more infamous than famous. It never accepted back Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition—being Artur Barros Basto the most famous case. It also had a leader that was the only Jew to receive a German Red Cross from the III Reich for services rendered. Yes! Yes! It’s all true, and well documented in the German archives—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mois%C3%A9s_Bensabat_Amzalak#cite_note-6.
Following attacks in several synagogues around Europe, Israel decided to offer Jewish communities security training so that the members could enforce security in their own temples. Although the training was the same, the results were different.
In Prague and Denmark, the behavior at the synagogue entrances was professional. Not only did I pass the security tests outside the synagogues but I befriended the great people who did security there. The security guard outside the Alt Neu synagogue in Prague was my colleague at the conservative Yeshiva. I also had the honor of knowing and befriending the great Dan Uzan הי״ד—the synagogue security guard brutally murdered in Copenhagen, in February 2015, by a Palestinian extremist.
But Lisbon’s Jewish community was different. The guy they sent to Israel to guard the only synagogue in Lisbon was rude and offensive, and confused being forceful with being a prick. His name was Weinstein. I will call him that way for two reasons. One it’s not his real name, and two he has something in common with Harvey as you will see.
Weinstein would just threaten with violence anyone who was not a member of the community. He wouldn’t care if you were a Jew or a Buddhist. Weinstein used the power that the security post granted him to try to humiliate you. He did that to me a couple a times, but I didn’t care. I just started a new Jewish community, the now extinct Beit Israel. This type of behavior is still a common practice in Lisbon. An American Jewish friend living there told me she does not go to the synagogue or Jewish events because of the extremely aggressive behavior of Weinstein’s replacement and protégé currently working there.
I became involuntarily a community leader (of sorts) in Beit Israel. One of our members was Guy, a New York lawyer with Israeli parents. After we became friends in Lisbon I visited him in New York. One Saturday morning he offered breakfast to his community in my honor and gave me the first Aliyah of Israel to read from the Bimah. When the rabbi introduced me and said that I was from Portugal, two young ladies approached me and said, “We met a portuguese international lawyer on a beach in Tel Aviv, his name is Wein… something…” Weinstein came to Israel for training and his day job was being a lawyer, I said “Weinstein?” Of course, it was he. I tried to say nice things about Weinstein, but when my friend Guy heard his name he interrupted the conversation “Weinstein? That idiot?” Apparently he had also given my friend Guy the 5 star treatment. The girls were less than impressed with the list of adjectives Guy had for Weinstein.
The Weinstein from Lisbon created a new Jewish community and a chance for me to meet great individuals like Guy. This serves my purpose of getting back to the other Weinstein. Bad things and bad people can also have positive consequences. Let’s hope Harvey is not a way to prosecute every man who was ever a prick, but a way for us to treat women more respectfully and, yes, a way to treat each other better. Remember, if you don’t treat people well you can become infamous among New York girls.