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Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project gets help from Frank

December 6, 2010 07:17

US Congressman attends benefit for restoration of Sephardic cemeteries in African island nation.

US Congressman Barney Frank.

barney frank_311. (photo credit:(Lloyd Wolf))

WASHINGTON – The Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project has received powerful Washington backing for efforts to restore Sephardic cemeteries on the island chain, with US Congressman Barney Frank among those attending a benefit for the group last week.

Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat whose district includes many Cape Verde and Portuguese immigrants, praised the warm embrace Jews in Cape Verde have historically received.

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“It’s a wonderful statement of human beings at their best,” he said at Tuesday’s reception.

The Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project has signed agreements with three localities in the country where Jewish cemeteries are located to help with their restoration, and is seeking grants and other support to repair and preserve the sites.

The group has also received help from the Portugal, which once controlled the archipelago off the coast of Africa, including hosting Tuesday’s event. Morocco, to which many Cape Verde Jews trace their roots, was represented by its Ambassador Aziz Mekouar, who last year also held an event on behalf of the heritage project.

Jews from Morocco and Gibraltar made their way to Cape Verde in the 1800s for economic reasons and most have since emigrated elsewhere or assimilated, leaving almost no practicing Jews on the islands to preserve the cemeteries and other signs of Jewish heritage there. In addition to preserving Jewish site, the heritage project also hopes to document the history of Jews on the island.
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