The Jewish Museum of Oporto, inaugurated in June 2019 by the President of B’nai B’rith International, is open exclusively for school visits booked in advance, and for the national and international Jewish community.
The reason the museum never opened to the general public is three years old. It concerns the fact that the Portuguese State has refused to provide policing for the premises. In proceedings that went back and forth between the Public Security Police and the Interior Minister, it was decided that the museum did not raise sufficient security issues to justify the daily presence of a police officer, even if paid by CIP/CJP.
In a letter to the Government, the Anti-Defamation League disagreed with the State’s position and recalled that the museum in Brussels had been attacked by a terrorist commando who had travelled from France. The Community also protested, recalled that supermarkets enjoyed paid police protection and that a Jewish museum opposite a large synagogue definitely needed police officers present outside the premises. The State position has not changed.
Unable to have policing, the Board of CIP/CJP considered that it would not run the risk of a “bloodbath”. Accordingly, visits have always been very prudent, watched over by the CIP/CJP security team and reserved for the Jewish community and for certain schools and teachers.
The Board of CIP/CJP has never made this fact publicly known for it has no wish to create conflict with the State, which does indeed provide policing (paid for by CIP/CJP) for the Kadoorie Synagogue and for the Oporto Holocaust Museum.
The Jewish Museum of Oporto is one of the most charming museums available to visitors, offering a number of extremely positive messages throughout the trajectory even when involving darker periods of history.
Aiming to support the fight against antisemitism, on display at the Museum are objects that are of great importance to the Jewish religion. The Museum offers a journey of 3800 years from the time of Abraham to today’s national and international Jewish communities, and there is even a prison carriage from the time of the Inquisition. There is also a cinema, a room dedicated to Israel and another to Port wine.