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!
I am director of Current Affairs Programming at the Voice of America. I host Press Conference USA and Encounter and oversee Issues in the News. Prior to joining VOA, I was a consultant and free-lance journalist specializing in the promotion of trade and investment between the US and Africa. From 1984 to 1991, I managed scholarship programs for Portuguese-Speaking Africa at the African-America Institute in NYC. It was through my students from Cape Verde that I learned about the islands' Jewish heritage. Many grantees bore Jewish surnames such as Levy, Benchimol or Wahnon. Over the past 20 years, I have been working on documenting the Jewish presence in Cape Verde. In late 2007, I founded the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization: "Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, Inc." a legal entity that allows us to raise funds to restore and preserve the 4 poignant Jewish cemeteries in Cape Verde and to research and document the presence of the Jews, most of whom hail from Morocco and Gibraltar in the mid-19th century. I have traveled widely in Africa and am fluent in Portuguese, French and Spanish.