Sunday, February 15, 2015

Documenting the Jews of Cape Verde

If you've been following and liking us on you know that with the help of generous donors such as World Monuments Fund and Mr. S. Daniel Abraham, CVJHP is promoting and underwriting archival research into the Sephardim who immigrated to Cabo Verde from Morocco and Gibraltar in the 19th century. 
However, we also want to pay tribute to Claudia Correia, whose book, "Presença de Judeus em Cabo Verde: Inventariação na Documentação do Arquivo Histórico Nacional (1840 - 1927), published in 1998, is an indispensable source of data and information for this research. We are very grateful to Dr. Correia for conducting and publishing her pioneering study --- one of the first archivists / historians to begin documenting the presence and legacy of the Sephardim in Cabo Verde.

CVJHP recently engaged historian Angela Sofia Benoliel Coutinho, a descendant of the legendary Benoliel family, to build upon the work of Claudia Correia and others, by conducting archival research in Portugal, Cape Verde, London, Gibraltar and Morocco, to help us gain an even better and clearer understanding of the commercial, social, political and religious activities of the Jews, their relationships with one another and their role within the larger Catholic community, particularly in the islands of Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Boa Vista and Sao Tiago, where the majority of Jews settled. Dra. Angela Sofia Benoliel Coutinho intends to expand and deepen our understanding of the contributions of the Jews and their descendants in Cabo Verde by building upon Dra. Correia's foundational study.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March 2014 Update

We regret the delay in updating events via the blog, but you can read about major developments over the past year on the CVJHP Facebook Fan Page. To summarize the latest, CVJHP in conjunction with Praia City Hall or Camara da Praia, held a re-dedication ceremony, replete with many descendants and international dignitaries, of the recently restored Jewish burial plot in Praia in May 2013. CVJHP financed the work, which was executed by Praia City Hall. Please see the numerous articles written about this event on our publications page. CVJHP is proud of the generous support provided by His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, which enables CVJHP to underwrite physical restoration efforts of Jewish cemeteries throughout the archipelago, namely in Praia and in the islands of Boa Vista and Santo Antão. In Santo Antão there are two cemeteries - Ponta do Sol and Penha de França - in the vila of Ribeira Grande.  Below are two photos from the May 2013 planning visit to Santo Antão.

Penha de França cemetery, Ribeira Grande
Ponta do Sol cemetery, Ribeira Grande
Physical restoration of these two cemeteries should commence over the coming months. Meantime, thanks to generous start-up support from World Monuments Fund CVJHP has engaged historian Ângela Sofia Benoliel Coutinho, a native of Cape Verde and a descendant of the legendary Benoliel family of Boa Vista, to scour relevant archives in Lisbon and Cape Verde, as well as to interview descendants and others, to obtain a fuller understanding and detailed portrait of the Sephardic Jews of Cape Verde.  Finishing touches are being made to the cemetery in Boa Vista, after which CVJHP will work with Boa Vista City Hall and other stakeholders as well as the Ministry of Culture to create signage and documentation for the many tourists expected to visit the site. In Praia, CVJHP is also negotiating with Praia City Hall to improve the walkway, lighting and signage leading to the restored Jewish burial plot, which will not only enhance the site as a historical monument but also as a potential tourist attraction.

Friday, March 15, 2013


 Jacob Azencot, faleceu 25 Agosto 1864
During restoration work on the Jewish burial plot within Varzea, the contractors for Camara da Praia uncovered the tombstone of young Jacob Azencot! It was an extraordinary and moving discovery. Jacob Azencot's grave was uncovered beside that of Benjamin Alves. This brings the total number of graves in the Varzea cemetery to 10. In a subsequent post, I will list the names but for now, we are seeking descendants or anyone who knows if Mr. Abraham Tarregano and Miriam Tarregano, who are both buried in Praia, have any living descendants. In addition, we are seeking to find out if Mr. El Baz, also buried in the newly restored Jewish plot in Praia, has any descendants in Cape Verde or abroad. We also seek information about any descendants of Mr. Samuel Serruya, whose tombstone is among the most majestic in the cemetery. Please send any information you may have regarding these three families / individuals as well as Jacob Azencot. In addition to restoration work, we are simultaneously planning to document the history and contributions of the Jewish families to Cape Verde. Meantime thank you to the team working for the Camara da Praia who uncovered the precious tombstone of Jacob Azencot. Parabens!

SAVE THE DATE: MAY 2, 2013 Re-dedication

Thanks to all of you who have made financial contributions to Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project Inc. and especially to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, we have completed the restoration of the Sephardic Jewish cemetery in the capital, Praia. Take a peak at the Before and After photo:

Jewish burial plot within the Varzea cemetery in Praia, before and after restoration


On May 2, 2013, Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project is organizing a ceremony in Praia to re-consecrate the Jewish burial plot inside the Varzea Cemetary, which was recently restored under an agreement between CVJHP and the Municipality of Praia (Camara da Praia). It is the first of four small Jewish cemeteries that CVJHP will rehabilitate and preserve in Cape Verde in partnership with local and central government authorities. CVJHP financed the restoration, which was designed and executed by the "Camara da Praia." CVJHP is also grateful to central government authorities, in particular Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves and Minister of Culture, Mario Lucio, for their cooperation and support. Distinguished dignitaries from Morocco and Gibraltar (the birthplace of most of the Jews who immigrated to Cape Verde in the 19th century) are expected to attend, as is the chief Rabbi of Lisbon. We also look forward to having many descendants from the United States and Europe join in the commemoration. It is not too late to sign up for the trip! Please contact us at: by March 29 if you wish to participate. Note: Each person is responsible for covering his/her trip expenses including air fare, hotel and most meals. However, we have identified a travel agent in Cape Verde who is working to obtain the best air fares and hotel rates for our group. It's an opportunity to appreciate the poignant remnants of the Sephardic Jewish presence in Cape Verde and to mingle with local descendants of the Auday, Benros, Benoliel, Benchimol, Brighham, Cohen, Levy, Wahnon and other Jewish families, meet Cape Verdean local and central government officials as well as Embassy representatives. Meetings, receptions and other excursions will be planned. Enjoy Cape Verdean "Morabeza" or hospitality. Visit our website: CVJHP.  Let's preserve memory and re-live history on May 2! 


Please check out and like our new fan page on Facebook at Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project!

This is going to replace the old Facebook Group page for Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project. Check out photos and comments regarding progress on cemetery restoration and other news, including photo and profiles of descendants of the Jews of Cape Verde.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 PROJECT UPDATE - H.M. King Mohammed VI

We have made considerable progress on the fundraising front that will enable us to begin restoration of several cemeteries very soon. The most thrilling and gratifying development is the fact the H.M. King Mohammed VI of Morocco is now a major benefactor of the Project. He appreciates the inextricable link between the legacy of the Jews of Cape Verde and the Jews of Morocco since almost all Cape Verde's Jews hailed originally from the Moroccan cities of Tangier, Tetouan, Rabat and Mogador (Essaouira).  Moreover, the Government of Cape Verde is moving in the direction of classifying the Jewish cemeteries as national historical patrimony, which would go a long way toward ensuring their preservation. On a recent trip to Cape Verde to accelerate restoration efforts and to consolidate cooperation among the descendants of Cape Verde's Jews, Sofia Veiga (descendant of the Wahnon family) and I paid a courtesy call on Cape Verdean President Jorge Fonseca, who is very supportive of the project. I also met with Minister of Culture, Mario Lucio, who also backs CVJHP efforts and who is spearheading the drive to classify the cemeteries and other places of Jewish memory as national historical patrimony. 

Carol Castiel, President Jorge Fonseca, Sofia Veiga