A year and a bit later than 11 March 2022, when dozens of policemen fiercely invaded Oporto’s great synagogue, the Jewish Community of Oporto wrote to the Presidents of Israel and Portugal, Isaac Herzog and Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, respectively, to inform them that the police had forgotten to take Roman Abramovich’s certification process.
The process was sent to the two statesmen, as were Minutes nº 104 of the Community Board Meeting of 22 April, where “Operation Open Door” was described as “a lethal, well-coordinated, exhaustive political process, extremely antisemitic, which did not hesitate to supply content to the newspapers and to professional slanderers, but also made use of anonymous denunciations and every possible source. The effects of a process based on so much hatred, slander and rubbish could not be more miserable. Before the Sabbath, the sacred Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue was invaded by armed men, the Ehal inspected, books of minutes containing the history of the community were seized, Sephardic records piled up and removed, leaving behind covers, loose pages and processes. Even Roman Abramovich’s certification process was forgotten in the midst of the confusion”.
Now these minutes and the certification process were sent not only to the Presidents of the two above-mentioned States, but also to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Judiciary Police. This gift was accompanied by a message of Gabriel Senderowicz, the President of the Oporto Jewish Community: "We hope the investigation will use the objective data attached to counterbalance their other “evidence”, to wit: the abstract slanderous denunciations which some criminals have spread since the first day, the gossip, the envy, the civic assassinations, the attack on this strong Community by every means possible, and so on".
Regarding Abramovich's certification process, Senderowicz reveals that “In the end, the Russian was not Russian but Lithuanian, from very wealthy Sephardic families who were robbed of everything by the Soviet Russians: hotels, real estate, merchant ships and, in the case of the grandfather, his very life. This “capitalist” was the major philanthropist of the Lithuanian community and of Chabad. He was killed in a Siberian gulag, having been deemed a danger to national security, as his grandson would later be considered in a country called Portugal. The similarities between the Soviet Russians and a group of Portuguese Soviets are not pure coincidence."
Since more than a year ago, the Jewish Community of Oporto has repeatedly claimed that the case of Abramovich was used by some Lisbon elites to completely trample on the reputation of Portugal's only strong Jewish community, to strike down the Sephardic law without protest from anyone, and to "throw out" wealthy Jews who could be an impediment to the “owners” of the country.
The Board member David Garrett says “The inventors of the theories behind "Operation Open Door" are free to give their opinions about Roman Abramovich’s Sephardic origins but they will not be able to spit on the decisions of the competent authorities of the Jewish world, no matter how many robberies they carry out, no matter how many anonymous letters they send, no matter how much hate they express publicly.”
The Community already stated the certification of Roman Abramovich's Sephardic origins was carried out correctly in light of Portuguese law and Jewish tradition. The seven-page index at the start of the Sephardic certification process of Roman Abramovich, to which the Portuguese Jewish News had access, contains the following points set out below.
1. The applicant's paternal grandparents were Lithuanian of Sephardic origins.
– Grandfather. Nachman Leibovitch was son of Leiba and Hanna-Rosa. He was a great businessman and the major philanthropist of the Lithuanian Jewish community and of Chabad. Nachman was deported by Stalin from Lithuania to Siberia, where he died. Leibovich means son of Lion in Yiddish. Lion is a word that alludes to the Kingdom of Leon (in Spain) and the tribe of Judah (which 2000 years ago arrived in Sepharad). Hamburg's list of surnames includes this name in its Portuguese formulation. It is also contained in the preamble of Executive Act No. 30-A/2015 of 27 February 2015. Nachman was the father’s name of the great Sephardic sage and Kabbalist Nachmanides. This is the name of Roman Abramovich's grandfather, and the Hebrew name of Roman, according to the Sephardic tradition of the grandson taking the name of the grandfather. (Documents)
– Great grandmother. Rosa as a name/surname is one of the examples presented by Executive Act n.º 30-A/2015 of 27 February 2015. It appears in the lists of surnames of those convicted by the Portuguese Inquisition, of the Kahal Kaddosh Portugal of Smyrna and of the Sephardic communities of Bulgaria, Amsterdam, Livorno and others. (Documents)
– Great grandfather. Leiba/Leiva is a Sephardic name from Sepharad that corresponds to a place in Spain and, in Portuguese, means land raised by the plough. It can be found in the lists of surnames that existed in Portugal in the 15th century, of the Portuguese Jewish community of Livorno, as well as of victims of the Spanish inquisition. (Documents)
– Grandmother. Tauba-Leja Berkover (also from a very wealthy family, also deported to Russia) was daughter of Shimon and Ite Berkover. Berkover (or Berkovich: son of Berkover) means shipowner in Yiddish. The Berkover family had a ship and engaged in the business of shipping goods and passengers via the river Neman from Kaunas to Klaipėda and back. The connection to the sea dates back to Hamburg. That surname is included in some lists of Sephardic surnames of Sepharad in general. (Documents)
[In 1717, during the reign of Peter I, a request addressed to the Sephardim of Hamburg emphasized that Russia had excellent conditions for organizing transit trade of oriental goods, primarily silk, and mentioned the tsar's intention to create a number of trading companies for this exact purpose. This is how Russia absorbed the first Sephardim. In the following century, Hamburg's Portuguese community numbered thousands of people mixed with Ashkenazim through intermarriage, who had abandoned their Portuguese identity, changed their surnames to those of Ashkenazi Jews and also moved to Eastern Europe (Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Russia) [Bystritsky 2021]. (Documents)]
– Applicant. Abramovich was the surname of distinguished Jews of Sephardic origin in the 16th and 17th centuries. From 1580, the Sephardic families Abramovicz, Portugalensis, Zacuto and others, made Zamość, Poland, an important city. (Other Sephardic communities existed in Krakow, Poznan, Lublin and other sizable cities.) Thousands of Sephardic artisans in this Polish city had no competitors neither among Christians nor among the extremely small Ashkenazi population of Zamość in those years. Its purely Sephardic and privileged character was disrupted due to the influx of the Ashkenazi refugees because of the pogroms of Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Mixed marriages between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews became more frequent. The Sephardim almost completely dissolved among the Ashkenazi Jews. [Kaplanov 2010] (Documents)
– The Leibovich and Berkover families were close to the Rabbi from Hamburg named Rabbi David Cohen de Lara. The names of their children are the same as the names of the children of Rabbi Lara. The Rabbi had two sons – Aron and Abraham, the same names as the father and uncle of Abramovich. The Sephardim have a tradition of giving family names of living relatives, while the Ashkenazi honour relatives who have died, so passing on the memory and family tradition. (Documents)
– The Sephardim ancestors of Roman’s grandmother came directly to Lithuania from Hamburg. They settled in the towns of Keidany (Kėdainiai) - Taurage - Jurbarkas. The first place where the family settled in Lithuania was Keidany. The connection between the Jewish communities of Hamburg and Keidany is confirmed by the fact that in the 17th century Rabbi Dovid Katzelenbogen became a Rabbi in Keidany, and his elder relative Jeheskel Katzelenbogen was first a Rabbi in Keidan, and then the Chief Rabbi of the community of Altona, Wandsbeck and Hamburg. (Documents)
– In Tauba's family there were always discussions between the parents about whether it was possible to eat peas and rice on Pesach (this is forbidden for Ashkenazim but allowed for Sephardim), this disagreement is the result of a mixture of traditions. There were other Sephardic customs. For example, on Passover her grandfather Aron-Wulf Goldstein (who died in 1930) during Seder spilled water on the floor, took a stick and walked around the table. This custom is not common among the Ashkenazim, but the Sephardim have very similar customs on Passover – to walk around the table with a bag, depicting the wanderings of the Jews. (Documents)
– Nachman Leibovitch was also very proud of his family origins in Poznan, Poland, and it is common knowledge that Abramovich provided material support over two decades, totalling half a billion dollars, to the Chabad Lubavitch worldwide movement. Today this movement is based in the USA but its foundations were born in Poznan, by the hand of Rabbi Baruch Portugali. Baruch's daughter, Rachel, would become the grandmother of Rabbi Schenur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. (Documents)
The Sephardic origins of the applicant are not only claimed by his family but attested to by Rabbi Alexander Boroda (President of the Russian Jewish Communities Federation), Rabbi Berel Lazar (Chief Rabbi of Russia), Rabbi Baruch Garzon (Director of the Sephardic Educational Centre of Jerusalem) and Rabbi Leib Leibel [a Leibovich], the most respected living descendant of Rabbi Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism, at the core of which Chabad Lubavitch was born, and the only person in the world who possesses tefillin from Portugal, over five centuries old. (Documents)
Those Rabbis are legitimate entities in the Jewish world where families have lived undocumented for centuries. The Jewish people are a people of forced migrants who wandered for centuries without documents. The Jewish world would not exist without the family memory and testimony of honorable Orthodox Rabbis who know Jewish families and their roots. (Documents)
2. Legal criteria for certification: "Family memory" and “Family names” (Article 24-A of the regulation of the law) and more.
Roman Abramovich's Sephardic certificate issued by CIP/CJP states that it was granted “based on the elements of proof offered by the applicant – among others relating to his known genealogy, the territories where his ancestors lived and family names, memories and traditions, critically articulated with our knowledge and understanding of reality, culture, religious law and of Jewish communities in general and with other proof verified throughout the long evaluation process, having used the work tools at our disposal”. (Document)
All Jewish migration to Israel under the law of return operates in the light of Jewish tradition. This migration depends on a certificate from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, anchored in the Orthodox Rabbinates all over the world, attesting to a person’s tradition of belonging to the Jewish world and from what places and roots. (Documents)
3. Who paid what?
The Oporto Jewish Community received only a fee of €250 (two hundred and fifty euros) from Roman Abramovich. This was in 2020. (Documents)
The Community has for years donated Shabbat meals to the Jewish Communities in Ukraine, Russia and twelve other countries. Those Jewish communities are led by Chabad, including the Odessa branch. The CIP/CJP partner is Chabad Rabbi Abraham Wolff. (Documents)
The Community even built and paid 180,000 dolares for a mikveh in a land of Ukrainians and Russians where there has always been a strong and independent Jewish community (like the State of Israel!) in the midst of fratricidal wars. (Documents)
Explaining Roman Abramovich’s case, Chief Rabbi Daniel Litvak mentions a moral fact – that he has no material need of Portuguese nationality – as he not only has an Israeli passport but is also entitled to a Lithuanian passport.
All of Roman Abramovich's children are Lithuanian citizens. He also is entitled to Lithuanian citizenship, given the origins of his paternal grandparents mentioned above. (Documents)
4. The Government granted Portuguese nationality to the applicant of its own volition.
– On 24th August 2020, the applicant obtained the CIP/CJP certificate. (Documents)
– On 30th August, the possibility for the applicant to invest in Portugal was communicated to the Prime Minister's office. (Documents)
– On 16th September, that possibility was discussed at a meeting with the Minister of the Economy. (Documents)
– On 19th October, it was highlighted with the Minister of Justice. (Documents)
– On 3rd February 2021, CIP/CJP wrote to the member of the Government for the area of Justice at the Lisbon Central Registry Office and requested a “declaration of urgency for reasons of national interest”, especially the "recovery of the economy" and the "prestige of the institutions", so as not to repeat the case of "a philanthropist from Hong Kong" who saw her case take "five years at a car registration office". (Documents)
– On 30th April 2021, the Government, by the powers granted to the Registry Office, granted Portuguese nationality to the applicant. (Documents)
5. Equating the cases of Roman Abramovich and Patrick Drahi proves that what was intended was to destroy all significant Jewish realities in Portugal.
Here’s the most shameful allegation in the warrants that “allowed” the Oporto synagogue to be invaded as if it were a brothel on 11 March 2022: “in some cases the acquisition procedure is suspected to be illegal, such as Roman Abramovich and Patrick Drahi”. This applicant was certified by the Lisbon Jewish community and rightly so. It would be sufficient to open the Internet or call the Registry Office to find out. (Documents)
Drahi is clearly a descendant of Megurashim on four sides. Equating his case with Roman's proves that what was intended was to completely trample on the reputation of Portugal's only strong Jewish community, to "throw out" wealthy Jews who could be an impediment to the “owners” of the country, and to strike down the Sephardic law without protest from anyone. This law was destroyed by government decree just 7 days after the synagogue invasion. (Documents)
6. Journalistic corruption joined hands with the state corruption.
In December 2021, journalistic corruption provided a political favour, talking about supposed “Wikipedia and Jewish freemasonry trickery”, "initial donations given to the CIP/CJP”, "funding of the Holocaust Museum", and carried away by this totally false news, published without even having heard the Jewish Community of Oporto, people completely in ignorance of the Jewish world cried publicly that the man being certified was a man lacking any Sephardic roots, who had paid a good price for his certification. This slander spread throughout the world. (Documents)
On 28th March 2022, in the midst of the "Operation Open Door" scandal – a young journalist from a television affiliated with the investigation travelled to Hamburg to find out from its local Chabad Rabbi if Roman Abramovich was originally from that city and if he was involved in a Community project that involved rehabilitating the old Portuguese cemetery in Altona. The Rabbi had never heard of any connection between the millionaire and that location, nor had CIP/CJP ever told him of such a character. After "Wikipedia and Jewish Freemasonry tricks", also that Altona cemetery rehabilitation project was reported in Portugal as a trick. Once again the news were published without even having heard the Jewish Community of Oporto. (Documents)
– On 14th February 2021, the Hamburg Chabad Rabbi – Shlomo Bistritzky – contacted the Oporto Jewish Community regarding the valuable cemetery of Altona and suggesting a relationship of mutual cooperation. (Documents)
– On 18 July of the same year, the connection between the organizations was reinforced when an honorary member of CIP/CJP living in Hong Kong personally visited the cemetery and persuaded CIP/CJP’s Board of Directors to help the Hamburg community to rehabilitate it. (Documents)
– On 9th November 2021, a plan for the rehabilitation of the cemetery was carried out. The work would cost 98,790 euros. CIP/CJP and B'nai B'rith International Portugal were determined to undertake that work with or without the help of philanthropists. (Documents)
– On 6th April 2022 Rabbi Bistritzky wrote to CIP/CJP explaining how journalism had plumbed the depths: "The truth is that I explained to the journalist of CIS quite a few times, that each of the Jews buried in the ancient cemetery of Hamburg, probably has hundreds and even thousands of descendants and I have no way of knowing who they are. Portuguese Jews were scattered all over Europe and the world and many of them have many Ashkenazi descendants in Eastern European countries and Russia. Until the publication in the Portuguese press this week, I did not go into the depth of the subject, but following the distorted publication, I checked and spoke with my colleague Rabbi Alexander Boroda who confirmed Mr. Abramowitz's Portuguese background." (Documents)
– Unfortunately for Soviet antisemites, no one has ever paid a penny for the rehabilitation works on the cemetery. The work scheduled for May 2022, never started due to journalistic corruption.
7. Jewish Community of Oporto marked the “Day of Shame” on March 11, 2023.
For the first time ever the Jewish Community of Oporto marked the “Day of Shame” by lighting the candles of a menorah in front of the Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue and launching on YouTube a video entitled "Soviet-style antisemitism in Portugal". The problem with the current elites in Portugal is that they are poor, corrupt and only think about money.
Here are the shameful allegations in the warrants that “allowed” the synagogue to be invaded as if it were a brothel: “There are suspicions regarding the relations between various companies, the Jewish Community of Oporto and its leaders, and the relevant Portuguese authorities”, “had privileged knowledge and connections in the registry offices, which allowed them to give priority to requests for the acquisition of nationality from Sephardic Jews”, “in exchange for pecuniary rewards, the origin of Sephardic Jews was falsely certified”, “in some cases the acquisition procedure is suspected to be illegal, such as Abramovich and Drahi”, “the H company, whose manager is the husband of Vice-President, signs the certificates and has been increasing drastically the values of services rendered”, “donations illicitly channelled to some members with positions in that community”, “a considerable part of the money is channelled into private pockets”.
All completely false. The only "privileged connections" occurred between agents of the State among themselves, mixing with journalists and criminals. This was the "scheme", which will be investigated internationally. The inventors of the theories behind "Operation Open Door" will end up in prison.
Sources about Portuguese Sephardim in Eastern Europe:
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Berg L.S. Naselenie Bessarabii: etnograficheskij sostav i chislennost'. Petrograd, 1923. (in Russian)
Bystrickij SH. Sefardy v Germanii: istoricheskie zametki o sobytiyah i licah // Lekhaim. 2021. https://lechaim.ru/academy/sefardi-v-germanii-istoricheskie-zametki-o-sobitiyah-i-litsah/ (in Russian)
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Demidov A., Demidov V., Demidov I. Lyudi i mundiry. Kn. 3. https://proza.ru/2015/11/09/382 (in Russian)
Dubnov S. Istoriya evreev v Evrope: Ot nachala ih poseleniya do konca XVIII veka. T. 4: Novoe vremya (XVII-XVIII vek). Perekhodnaya epoha do francuzskoj revolyucii 1789 g. Moskva; Ierusalim, 2003. (in Russian)
Figurniak M.L. The History of the Jewish Population on the Zamoyski latifundium during the Period of the Chancellor Line (Jan ‘Sariusz’, Tomasz And Jan ‘Sobiepan’ Zamoyski): Contribution to the Research // Biuletyn Polskiej Misji Historycznej Nr 9/2014
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Kaplanov R.M. Ispano-portugal'skie evrei v Rossii i na Ukraine (XVI–XVIII vv.) // Rashid Muradovich Kaplanov: Trudy. Interv'yu. Vospominaniya. Moskva, 2010. S. 26 - 36. (in Russian)
Morgenstern J. Uwagi o Żydach sefardyjskich w Zamościu w latach 1588–1650 // Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego. 1961. N 38. (in Polish)
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