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.
“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.
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
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