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Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

The Republic of Cape Verde (or República de Cabo Verde) consists of ten islands in the Atlantic Ocean, about 300 miles off the coast of West Africa. They were uninhabited until settlement began by Portugal in 1462. The Cape Verde Islands remained a Portuguese colony until the islands' status was changed to that of an Overseas Province of Portugal in 1951. Independence was achieved in 1975.

THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

From the Inquisition until the late 19th century, this predominantly Catholic area received Jews fleeing from religious persecution or searching for greater economic opportunity.  Courtesy of This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and his website. [June 2000] This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Cemetery restoration project update. Jewish cemetaries or graves are in Brava (at Cova da Judeu), Boa Vista, Sao Tiago (in Praia and Cidade Velha), Santo Antao (especially at Sinagoga), Sao Nicolau (at Mindelo), Fogo, and probably in other islands as well.

CAPE VERDE JEWISH HERITAGE PROJECT, INC.

The Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, Inc. (CVJHP) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that aims to honor the memory and explore the contributions of the many Sephardic Jewish families who immigrated to Cape Verde from Morocco and Gibraltar in the mid-19th century.

The primary goals of CVJHP are to preserve Cape Verde's Jewish heritage by restoring and maintaining Jewish burial grounds, to educate future generations about the Jews of Cape Verde by documenting their legacy, and to encourage Jewish heritage tourism.

CVJHP has the support of the Government of the Republic of Cape Verde and is working in close partnership with the Cape Verde-Israel Friendship Society (AMICAEL) to achieve these goals. AMICAEL is a non-profit organization based in Cape Verde whose members consist of descendants of the Jewish families. Carol Castiel is president of CVJHP.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

•   Restoration, preservation and maintenance of Jewish burial grounds, which have fallen into disrepair in the islands of Santo Antao, Boa Vista and Sao Tiago.  Erection of honorary plaques.

•   Continued oral and archival research on the Jewish families and their descendants.

•   Publication of book about the Jews and their descendants based on above research.

•   Symposium on the Jewish presence in Lusophone Africa.

•   Promotion of Jewish heritage tourism to Cape Verde.

•   Documentary film about the Jews of Cape Verde. (once above objectives are attained)

HIGHLIGHTS OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

•   Creation of website 2008

•   Letter endorsing Project from Cape Verdean Prime Minister.  2007

•   Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, Inc. receives tax-exempt status from IRS. 2007

•   Presentation on the Jews of Cape Verde by Carol Castiel, Jewish Genealogy Conference. 2003

•   Two "Insider Embassy Nights" at the Cape Verde Embassy in Washington for the DC Jewish Community Center when The Project was highlighted. 1997, 2003

•   Interviews with more than a dozen descendants of Jews of Cape Verde in Lisbon. 2002. (Documentation of memory continues and will culminate in a book by Carol Castiel based on  archives and oral histories of descendants.)

•   Radio spot for the "Voice of America" on the Jews of Cape Verde.  2002

•   Initial restoration of Penha da Franca Cemetery, Santo Antao. 1999

•   Presentation of The Project's objectives by Carol Castiel at World Bank Symposium, "Historic Cities and Sacred Sites." 1999

•   Meeting between Carlos Alberto Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga, then Prime Minister of Cape Verde, and Vice President of B'nai B'rith International, Daniel Mariaschin. 1998

•   Formation of grass-roots group of Jewish Cape Verdeans in Lisbon, Portugal. 1997

•   Visits of Carol Castiel to H.E. Andre Azoulay, Advisor to the King of Morocco, and the Jewish Community of Casablanca to establish Moroccan linkages for Project. 1996

PROJECT IN PRINT

•   "Recovering Jewish Heritage in the Cape Verde Islands," Carol Castiel, Historic Cities and Sacred Places, proceedings of World Bank Symposium. 2000

•   The Presence of Jews in Cape Verde: Inventory of Historical Documents from 1840-1927, Claudia Correia, Cape Verdean historian. Doctoral dissertation. 1998

•   The Jews of Cape Verde: A Brief History, M. Mitchell Serels, Sepher-Hermon Press, Inc. 1997

•   Book review of The Jews of Cape Verde: A Brief History, Israel Benoliel, Cimboa, Cultural Magazine of Cape Verde, Boston. 1997

•   "Cape Verde Hosts Jews," Carol Castiel, Washington Jewish Week, 1995

•   Portuguese and French translations of the above article appeared respectively in the newspapers Novo Jornal of Cape Verde and Le Maroc Hebdo of Morocco. 1995

BACKGROUND

The Republic of Cape Verde, an archipelago of ten islands, lies in the Atlantic Ocean about 300 miles off the coast of Senegal, West Africa. As a result of over 500 years of Portuguese colonial rule, Cape Verdeans are predominantly Catholic. However, beginning with the period of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition through the late 19th century, Cape Verde received Jews fleeing religious persecution, or as in the case of the 19th century, seeking greater economic stability.

The Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, Inc. is mainly concerned with the second wave of Jewish immigration.  Deteriorating economic conditions in Morocco in the mid-1800's prompted some Jews to immigrate to Cape Verde, which was then a Portuguese colony.  The Hebrew and Portuguese inscriptions on the tombstones in the small Jewish cemeteries throughout the islands, indicate that the majority came from the Moroccan cities of Tangier, Tetouan, Rabat, and Mogador (now Essaouira) bearing distinctive Sephardic names such as Benoliel, Benrós, Benathar, Benchimol, Brigham, Auday, Anahory, Cohen, Levy, Maman, Pinto, Seruya and Wahnon.  Many arrived in Cape Verde via Gibraltar.

These families landed primarily on the islands of Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Boa Vista and Sao Tiago and engaged in international commerce, shipping, administration and other trades. The Jews lived, worked, and prospered in Cape Verde.  However, because their numbers were few relative to the larger Catholic population, widespread intermarriage occurred.  As a result of this assimilation, Cape Verde today has virtually no practicing Jews. Yet, descendants of these families, whether in Cape Verde, the United States, Portugal or Canada, speak with pride of their Jewish ancestry. They wish to honor the memory of their forebears by preserving the cemeteries and by documenting their legacy. The first democratically elected prime minister of Cape Verde, Carlos Alberto Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga, is of Jewish descent.  Many descendants of the Jewish families are actively engaged in collaborating on various aspects of CVJHP's mission, such as providing oral testimonies, technical support and financial assistance.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please contact: Carol Castiel, President, Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project Inc. 400 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Suite 812, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202.841.9925. [September 2009]

 

Title Filter     Display # 
# Burial Location
1 BOA VISTA ISLAND:
2 BRAVA
3 SANTO ANTAO ISLAND: Campinas, Ponta do Sol, Paul (Penha da Franca)
4 SAO NICOLAU: Mindelo
5 SAO TIAGO ISLAND: Praia and Cidade Velha
 
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