Simon Sebag Montefiore visits Portugal with a Portuguese passport and embarrasses opponents of the Sephardic law

Simon Sebag Montefiore visits Portugal with a Portuguese passport and embarrasses opponents of the Sephardic law

The renowned Jewish historian Simon Sebag Montefiore has been visiting Portugal for several days and brought with him not only his book "The World, a History of Humanity" to present to the public, but also his Portuguese passport, thanks to his Sephardic origins.

No one has yet had the audacity to say that he is in possession of a "convenience passport", as happened with thousands of anonymous Jews or those from unwanted origins where, curiously, Simon Sebag Montefiore himself has many relatives, due to the centuries-old dispersion of a people of migrants: the Jewish people.

The media found it strange that the historian had family in Europe, Russia, the United States and Israel, demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge of the Jewish world. Meanwhile, the facts remain. Simon Sebag Montefiore is a Jew of Portuguese Sephardic origin who does not need a passport for anything other than exercising a right and honouring his ancestors.

There are records of the Sebag family in numerous traditionally Sephardic communities in the Mediterranean and North Africa (especially Morocco, Algeria and Gibraltar), and it is worth noting that members of this family returned to Portugal in the 19th and 20th centuries and are today buried in the British cemetery of Estrela and in the Jewish cemetery in Lisbon.

The Montefiore family also left an important mark in multiple communities of Portuguese Sephardic origin, especially in Tunisia (where the Portuguese community itself kept marriage records of this family in the 17th and 18th centuries), London and Livorno.

It is worth remembering that Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885), a British philanthropist born in Livorno to a Sephardic Jewish family, drank Port wine for more than fifty years. It is said that in the hours before his death, he drank three glasses of Port wine. It is known that Montefiore was a religious Jew. It follows that the Port wine he consumed was kosher, i.e., supervised by Orthodox Jews from the harvest to the bottling. The most reasonable explanation is that the wine was produced by, or with the help of, Sephardic residents of Oporto.

The existence of a small Sephardic community in Oporto was confirmed in 1867 by the German Jewish Rabbi and historian Meyer Kayserling. After visiting Portugal, this scholar of the history and literature of Judaism of the Iberian Peninsula published Geschichte Der Juden in Portugal. He wrote that after the abolition of the Inquisition, a Jewish community of hundreds of people settled in Lisbon and “a smaller community was founded in Oporto”.