Jewish Community of Oporto accuses Portuguese State agents of anti-Semitism

Jewish Community of Oporto accuses Portuguese State agents of anti-Semitism


The Portuguese Parliament wanted to know the opinion of the Jewish community of Porto on possible changes to the law that allows the citizenship of Jews of Sephardic origin.

The Community replied that it does not cooperate with a State that has taken anti-Semitic and terrorist action against the community (from the religious and secular leaders to the museologist and the doorman) on the basis of anonymous complaints from the rabble of society.


Request for the issuance of an opinion on Draft Laws 028/XV/1.ª (PCP) and 127XV/1.ª (L)


The Chairman,

Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees

1. The understanding and the criteria following by the Jewish Community of Oporto for a period of seven years are in the public domain.

2. The aim of the legislators at the time, regarding what is known as the Sephardic Law, which was published in 2013 and 2015, was to reconnect Portugal to the Sephardic diaspora originally from Sepharad. Just the traditional families of Sephardic communities in North Africa and the former Ottoman Empire would account for one million people benefitting from that right. Seven years have passed. Only about 10% of that number have requested Portuguese nationality of which only 5% obtained it.

3. In 2020, agents of the State launched a slanderous campaign against that law. “Candidates only want passports of convenience”, “there are tens of millions of candidates”, Sephardic applicants have children and spouses”, “to obtain citizenship all applicants have to do is pay thousands of euros to genealogists, lawyers and the Portuguese Jewish communities”, as well as other similar accusations. At the same time, the 1000% numeric growth of the Portuguese Jewish community and the work carried out by the Jewish Community of Oporto over all these years was deliberately silenced: the construction of centres for young Jews, kosher restaurants, shops and other establishments, the Jewish cemetery, the largest Chabad Centre in Europe, the Holocaust Museum, the Jewish Museum of Oporto, the Jewish Cinema of Oporto, the production of three feature films that won international awards (“Sefarad”, “1618” and “The Light of Judah”), the treatment of Inquisition proceedings in danger of rotting at Torre do Tombo, setting up the largest Jewish library in Portugal and Spain. It has also fought antisemitism, and was giving money to the poor, the sick and the elderly, to hospitals, to kolelim and synagogues around the world, for Shabbat meals for Jewish communities in fourteen countries, to mikveh centres, schools and cemeteries in Jerusalem, Ashdod, Moscow and Bangkok, to food banks in a number of countries, to provide aid for catastrophes in African and Asia, for all Keren Hayesod projects in Israel, for community actions of the Oporto Diocese and for the Mukhayriq world initiative, designed once again to bring together Jews and Muslims who are beset by mutual incomprehension.

4. In December 2021 those State agents returned to the charge, gathered together anonymous denunciations from the scum of society, reduced the so-called Sephardic law to the fees charged by the Jewish Community of Oporto, spread the word that the leaders of this community embezzled the organisation’s money, involved them in suspicions of corruption and created an atmosphere of terror and hostile news through the agency of half a dozen handpicked journalists. Week after week, entire families were subject to a holocaust of exposure in the newspapers, dragged by their hair onto television, all based on anonymous denunciations. No one escaped this type of Inquisition-style “purification”, from religious and secular leaders – rabbis, presidents, former presidents, vice-presidents, treasurers, members, secretaries – as well as the museologist and the doorkeeper.

5. In fact, with the aim of trying to destroy the Jewish community of Oporto, the agents of the State who had organised everything with journalists, influencers, slanderers as well as magistrates and policemen, took advantage of denunciations they knew were slanderous and that had been made by “anonymous persons” whose identity was known to them. These men included someone who had been convicted in court for stating that non-Jews are “shit”, that non-Jews are persons “lacking human quality”, that non-Jews are people “with no value”, that non-Jews “are repulsive”, that non-Jews are “despicable”, that non-Jews are “disgusting”, that non-Jews are “filthy”, that non-Jews are “dirty”, and so on. (Oporto Criminal Court, Case 10444/16.0T9PRT, considered that the slanderer being judged there had by his conduct acted in a highly defamatory and insulting manner!

6. The police invaded Kadoorie synagogue as if it were a brothel, and rushed to the home of the Vice-President, granddaughter of Captain Barros Basto, the founder of the Jewish Community of Oporto, to look for bags stuffed with cash. The Vice-President, who has spent her life trying to rehabilitate her grandfather (he, targeted by the Portuguese dictatorship, following anonymous denunciations in 1934 and 1936, to destroy him and the Community) was also the victim of similar anonymous denunciations, to the point where her life was unimaginably brutalised. At 8.30 am on 11 March 2022, this distinguished septuagenarian economist, ailing following a serious accident, had to run to the bathroom as her house was invaded by more than ten people, whom she later learned were policemen, who were looking for bags stuffed with cash, as well as fake invoices belonging to her husband. Outrageous.

7. Conspiracy theories also emerged, which is normal in the case of Jews. In the anonymous letters that the agents of the Portuguese State sent to the newsrooms of the newspapers, the Board member responsible for legal affairs was charged with having written the legislation on the Sephardic nationality (approved unanimously by Parliament and the government in 2013 and 2015) in order to traffic passports and steal the fees paid by applicants. He was a reviled target, his name repeated in accusations, simply because for over a decade he had conducted the processes leading to the rehabilitation of Captain Barros Basto, the Kadoorie synagogue, and the community itself, with humility, never representing the institution or welcoming famous visitors, never giving an interview, never mading a speech to the congregation. As written by the oldest lady in CIP/CJP, aged 94, “Nothing changed very much for the Synagogue for the next thirty to forty years — until one day someone came along to breathe new life into the old, empty Synagogue. The congregation grew, and grew, and now it makes me happy to see that the Synagogue has finally more than fulfilled its destiny.”

8. The Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Oporto, the person in Portugal who is more qualified to issue certificates of Sephardism and who refused to certify a candidate to Chief Rabbi of Israel and a Brazilian minister, as well as many other well-known personalities from all over the world, was detained, compelled to stay in Portugal and humiliated worldwide, based on serious falsehoods: for certifying Patrick Drahi (who was actually certified by the Jewish Community of Lisbon), for having certified Roman Abramovich (who was actually certified, correctly, by the Russian Rabbinate), for demanding the applicants’ “religious belief” (which he never did, for being Jewish is a matter of matrilineal genealogy), for corrupting registry offices (when, as far as we know, he is not familiar with any of them), for embezzling the money from the fees paid by the Sephardim (which is technically impossible at CIP/CJP), for laundering money from embezzlements that never took place and for the alleged intellectual disloyalty of the Chief Rabbis of countries with very strong Jewish communities.

9. The Court released the Chief Rabbi and did not prevent him from continuing to issue certificates of Sephardism. However, the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community of Oporto decided to suspend this activity, as it refuses to cooperate with a State that with the aim of destroying a law, has started an antisemitic and terrorist action against an organised Jewish community based on unbelievable anonymous denunciations made by the scum of society.

10. By reason of these facts, the Community no longer has any interest in cooperating with the State and by order of its General Meeting has inaugurated a new room in its Jewish Museum of Oporto. Hundreds of school children and tourists were the first to visit this new room which presents a timeline of antisemitism in Portugal from 2015 to 2022, with an explanation of the origin of the criminal proceedings. Soon, there will also be a brightly lit display case containing all the accusations that led to these proceedings and photographs of all the characters who made, spread and took advantage of these charges for malign purposes.

Yours faithfully,

For and on behalf of the Board and the General Meeting of

Gabriel Senderowicz, President, CIP/CJP