Community of Porto closes its centennial year with an official ceremony

Community of Porto closes its centennial year with an official ceremony

With the lighting of the first Chanukah candle, the Jewish community of Porto held a ceremony to close the year of its centenary. Speakers included community president Gabriel Senderowicz, vice-president Isabel Lopes, the oldest member of the community, Marilyn Flitterman, and the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal, Randi Charno Levine, who made a splendid speech about Chanukah

During the ceremony, signs of Jewish life could be heard on all floors of the great synagogue, which was crowded with children, young people, men, women and old people. They prayed the evening service, played games, and enjoyed holiday sweets and drinks. Everyone celebrated the double simcha, both Chanukah and the centennial. 

The Mekor Haim men's choir enchanted those present in the synagogue with liturgical music dedicated to the occasion. Visitors also had the opportunity to see the community's art gallery, installed in the library of the Kadoorie Mekor Haim synagogue. It is a millennial story, filled with pain but also with resistance.

In 2023, the year in which the Community inaugurated its cemetery, launched a book about its last 100 years, opened a children's school and carried out many other major achievements, the Community “started” legal action against those who used criminal means to damage it in 2022.

It was announced during the ceremony that on December 30, 2023 the Community will present the trailer of the film "1506 - The Lisbon Genocide", as part of a cultural and educational strategy. The Community promises that the film will be universally recognized, just as the film "1618" has already been the most internationally recognized.

In her remarks, Isabel Lopes recalled the efforts and dreams of her grandfather Captain Barros Basto to revive Jewish life in Porto.  The president of the Community Gabriel Senderowicz said that "the balance of 100 years is positive" because "what you see in Porto are Jews of many nations and ages" and "synagogues, a mikvah, kosher food, a cemetery, a children's school,  two museums, history films, painting, music, literature and much more."

Despite the flourishing image of Jews in Porto, Senderowicz recalled the lessons of history from "a people of forced migrants." We don't know if there will be Jews here in Porto in 100 years, or even 10 years from now, because the world is always changing and a lot can happen."

DN, 08.12.2023

The full text of the remarks of Community President Gabriel Senderowicz:

"The Jewish community of Porto is a community that symbolizes the resilience of the Jewish people. This is a community on the rise, in contrast to many communities in Europe, from which Jews are currently leaving.

This community has been reborn three times, The first rebirth was in 1923, when it was officially founded after 300 years of inquisition. The second was in 2012, after decades with an empty synagogue and almost non-existent Jewish life in the city. The third was in 2022, after an attempt at destruction by the country's elites, as it was in the times of the Inquisition.

"Anonymous whistleblowing" are two words that have always been present throughout history. It was like that with the Inquisition, it was like that with Captain Barros Basto, it was like that with us last year. Nature teaches that the seasons of good harvest are also the seasons of rats. However, the 100-year balance sheet is positive. In the centenary year, what we see in Porto are Jews of many nations and ages, of different approaches and vocations, Jews who are integrated into Portuguese society, while playing an active role in this synagogue.

I dare to say that Porto is today one of the best cities in the diaspora for Jews to live in. This is because of both for the structure of the city and for the Jewish life we seek to offer, with synagogues, a mikvah, kosher food, a cemetery, a children's school and other emerging institutions. In cultural terms, this is the strongest Jewish community in Europe. No other city has two museums, the production of history films, painting, music, literature, and more.

However, we as Jews know that the future is uncertain. We have always been a people of forced migrants throughout history. We don't know if there will be Jews here in Porto in 100 years, or even in 10 years, because the world is always changing and a lot can happen.

Today we have a solid community here and for that, as President of the Community, I want to thank each of our members and each of our true friends, who make the community what it is. A happy centenary to all of us and Chag Chanukah Sameach."