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.
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.