Sunday, November 22, 2015


The Jewish cemeteries in Penha de França and Ponta do Sol have been officially classified as Municipal Cultural Patrimony or  "Património Cultural Municipal" by the Camara Municipal de Ribeira Grande (CMRG) -- City Hall in Ribeira Grande, island of Santo Antao.

I received the following message from Francisco Dias, Vereador da CMRG in late August 2015. 

"Ontem foi um dia muito especial para os Cemitérios dos Judeus. Foi aprovado por unanimidade por todos os deputados municipais, a elevação dos cemitérios dos Judeus de Ribeira Grande (Ponta do Sol e Penha de França) a património cultural municipal. O processo seguirá brevemente para o governo requerendo a elevação a categoria de património cultural nacional."
----Francisco Dias, Vereador da CMRG - Santo Antão, 29 de Agosto, 2015

Engineer Orlando Delgado, President (Mayor) of CMRG, told me in late July 2015, when I was in Ribeira Grande on a site visit to evaluate the status of restoration of the two cemeteries, that he would press for this designation. CVJHP Inc. salutes the CMRG for fulfilling its commitment. 
Above is the refurbished Penha de Franca cemetery in Ribeira Grande. Finishing touches such as painting and signage will be completed in the coming months by early 2016.
The Jewish cemeteries are in the process of being restored and preserved with financing and advice from CVJHP Inc. and by a capable technical team from the CMRG. Their recent designation as "municipal cultural patrimony" is an important first step toward their eventual designation as cultural patrimony by the central government. Why is this so critical? It means that the people of Ribeira Grande value and honor the contributions and legacy of the many Sephardic Jews who once lived and prospered on the island. The designation legally protects the cemeteries from attempts by developers, the state or individuals to destroy, alter or deface the cemeteries. Most of all, it reflects the view by the CMRG and the citizens therein that the cemeteries are an inextricable part of their history and identity, even if no practicing Jews remain on the island today. Thanks to the CMRG, the memory of the many Jewish families: The Benros, the Brigham, the Cohens, the Pinto, the Wahnon and many more .... will live on through the poignant cemeteries and the many descendants in Cape Verde and abroad.  It will also help to promote cultural tourism in the island of Santo Antao. CVJHP Inc. fervently hopes that the other municipalities with Jewish cemeteries, namely Praia and Boa Vista, will emulate the measure taken by CMRG and vote to designate their respective cemeteries as "património cultural municipal." Such a move will greatly benefit the economic and cultural development of the entire country. 
Antonio Mota and Francisco Dias, Terrace of Ponta do Sol Cemetery, RG

Francisco Dias, Antonio Mota Ponta do Sol, RG  

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Jenn said...
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