Rabbis from Europe and Israel inaugurate a memorial for the victims of October 7th, in Oporto, Portugal

Rabbis from Europe and Israel inaugurate a memorial for the victims of October 7th, in Oporto, Portugal

The Jewish world does not forget the victims of October 7th. Yesterday 150 renowned European and Israeli Rabbis were at the cemetery of the Jewish community of Oporto in Portugal, inaugurating a memorial with the names of those who perished brutally on that fateful day of Shabbat and Simchat Torah. The event was organized by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, the European Jewish Association and the Oporto Jewish community.

The tefila was presided over by Rabbi Simcha Steinberg of Eindhoven, Netherlands and speakers included Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs (Chairman of the Dutch Rabbis' Committee) and Rabbi Netanel Lev (member of the rabbinical committee of Lubavitch, Paris, and father of the late Benyamin OBM.)

Rabbi Netanel Lev's speech was the most applauded. "My son Binyamin fell in battle on the seventh of October, when he went out to defend the people of Israel with his body. He was an outstanding soldier in the paratroopers, and was specially chosen to go to the Gaza Strip that morning. One thing comforts me, is knowing that he gave his life to protect and save other Jews. May the memory of my son and the rest of the soldiers who were killed be blessed.

He added that "Benjamin came out of his hiding to help rescue a wounded and injured. The last words I got to speak with him a few days before that were, that I am proud that he gives his body for the defense of the people of Israel, and he answered me briefly in his own way, I know."

In turn, Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs spoke about the mix of feelings that the inauguration of the memorial inspired. "We witness here today the combination of the normal and the abnormal, the acceptable and the not acceptable, a regular new Jewish cemetery and the awful 7 October monument. And we see with tears in our eyes that the world accepts the non-acceptable by condemning Israel and by accepting antisemitism", he said.

The main emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Portugal, Rabbi Eli Rosenfeld also spoke emotionally to those present."The tribute today expresses the truth of the resiliency of the Jewish People. Notwithstanding the pain experienced on Simchat Torah, the Jewish People will continue to live and thrive. Am Yisrael Chai!", he stated.

The Jewish Community of Oporto inaugurated its new cemetery last year, in April 2023. The ceremony took place on Yom Hazikaron and included a tribute to fallen Israeli soldiers, and also rituals dedicated to the new sacred ground. The event was presided over by rabbis from Portugal, Israel, the USA and the UK.

In general, cemeteries are not known for their beauty. But the aesthetics that surround all the details in this Porto cemetery really impress any visitor. There are trees, grass, a lake, the chirping of carefree birds. And silence. It is set in a quiet location on the outskirts of the city of Oporto. There are no high-rise buildings, no streets, no traffic lights, no sound of cars passing or people’s loud and constant chatter. It is as peaceful as it can possibly be.

Its name is "Isaac Aboab Field of Equality". The name of the cemetery is a reference to Chief Rabbi Isaac Aboab, who lived and died in Oporto following the expulsion of the Jews from Castile. “We do not even know where he is buried because the Edict and the Inquisition destroyed all traces of the Jewish community of the time”, Oporto's Chief Rabbi Daniel Litvak said to PJN.

Rabbi of Oporto Yoel Zekri remembered that "five centuries ago the Jews of Oporto were robbed of all their assets, houses, even their cemetery was destroyed. This new cemetery is a sign of Jewish life. Honoring the dead of the October massacre here is honoring all our people, past, present and future". 

The last words of the ceremony fell once again to Rabbi Natanel Lev: "I want to thank the Jewish Community of Oporto for the good work that they have done to commemorate the memory of all the soldiers and the people who murdered and died on the 7 of October. Warms the heart. With God's help, our abductees will soon be released safe and sound."