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Restoration and Re-dedication of Ponta do Sol and Penha de França Jewish Cemeteries, 6 November 2018

Dozens of people, including many descendants of Cabo Verde’s Jewish community, local and national government officials, dignitaries from the United States and Israel, the chief rabbi of Lisbon and local residents, gathered in Ribeira Grande, Santo Antão on November 6, 2018, to re-dedicate two recently restored Jewish cemeteries to honor the memory of Sephardic Jews who immigrated to Cape Verde from Morocco and Gibraltar in the 19th century. The President of the Cabo Verdean National Assembly, Jorge Santos, spoke on behalf of the central government, which recently classified the cemeteries as National Historical and Cultural Patrimony. A native of Santo Antão and former mayor of Ribeira Grande, Santos spoke with pride of the many Jewish families who contributed to the island’s economic development, particularly in the area of agriculture. The Mayor of Ribeira Grande, Orlando Delgado pledged to protect and maintain the newly restored cemeteries, which will henceforth, be integrated into the island’s cultural tourism circuit. Carol Castiel, President of the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project (CVJHP), which financed the restoration, thanks to a generous grant from H.M. King Mohammed of Morocco, praised her Cabo Verdean partners and the many descendants of the Jews who inspired her to bring this day to fruition. The chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Lisbon, Natan Peres, offered traditional Hebrew prayers (Hascaba) for the 14 souls buried in the Ponta do Sol and Penha de França cemeteries. The U.S. Embassy, represented by Chargée d’affaires, Marissa Scott, offered words of enthusiasm and strong support. The US Embassy is a valued donor to CVJHP. It was the first visit to Cabo Verde by Daniel Aschheim, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Israel, (based in Dakar) who said: “It was a true honor to represent Israel, the Jewish State, in this important and moving dedication ceremony, commemorating the rich Jewish heritage, culture and history of Cabo Verde. Thanks to the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, the history of this community will forever be remembered.”

Natan Peres, chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Lisbon, said “It was a great honor to participate in this event and witness the pride and respect from local residents and government officials towards the Jewish heritage of the island. It was an emotional event for everyone, especially the descendants of the original Jewish families, an event which crowned the long and hard work of the Foundation [CVJHP] on this [restauration] project. Full Press release.   Below are some photographic highlights of the re-dedication ceremony.

Samples of Prominent Press Coverage

Select Media Placements

19th-century Jewish graves rededicated in Cape Verde  AP Article
This AP article was picked up by more than two dozen international publications from The New York Times and The Washington Post to media outlets in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Weirton, West Virginia and beyond!

Rededication of Jewish cemeteries in Santo Antão  US Embassy in Praia, Cabo Verde

In ‘small antidote to anti-Semitism,’ Jewish graves rededicated in Cape Verde  Times of Israel

(Not Europe but…) Revitalizing Jewish heritage in Cape Verde  Jewish Heritage Europe

Deux cimetières juifs restaurés au Cap Vert avec l’aide du roi Mohammed VI  HuffPost

Dois cemitérios judaicos restaurados na ilha de Santo Antão regressam à comunidade  SAPO Notícias