Isaac Assor, cantor of the Synagogue in Lisbon, Portugal, and I are en route to Cape Verde this month - June 2010. We will sign a memorandum of understanding between Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, Inc. and the municipalities of Praia and Boa Vista. (We already have an agreement with Ribeira Grande in Santo Antao). These agreements with the local governments (mayors), who are responsible for the maintenance of the cemeteries, will complete the groundwork to enable us to move forward with more vigor to raise funds to repair, restore and preserve the beautiful small Sephardic burial plots that dot the archipelago.
In Praia, there is a Jewish section in the Varzea cemetery which needs urgent repair, protection and beautification. Many of the tombstones are literally sinking. Cantor Assor in his capacity as religious advisor for the Project, will advise us on how to best repair and restore the stones in accordance with Jewish law (halacha.)
We will participate in a formal signing ceremony with the Mayor of Praia, Mr. Ulisses Correia, after which Cantor Assor will make a presentation in his native Portuguese about the significance of burial grounds in Jewish tradition among other topics relevant to Sephardic Jewish customs and rituals. All Jewish descendants are invited as are other interested Cape Verdeans, government officials and foreign ambassadors, to attend the ceremony.
While in the capital, Praia, we hope to advance our objective of persuading the central government to designate the Jewish cemeteries as "cultural monuments," so they will receive special care and enable us to raise funds more efficiently and effectively. For that, we hope to meet with the Minister of Culture. In the island of Boa Vista we plan to sign a memorandum of understanding with Municipality President Jose Pinto Almeida. This would confer greater status on and protection for the dilapidated Benoliel cemetery. Rafael Benoliel, architect in Lisbon, creator of the CVJHP logo, and distinguished descendant of the Benoliel family, has designed a blueprint to preserve and protect the small family cemetery and it environs. Next task ---raise sufficient funds to get the job done. We'll let you know how the trip goes, so stay tuned....