The Jewish Community of Oporto shared the meaning of Jewish holidays with the Portuguese population

The Jewish Community of Oporto shared the meaning of Jewish holidays with the Portuguese population

For almost a year, the Jewish Community of Oporto, through its President, Gabriel Senderowicz, published a set of 10 opinion articles in the Portuguese press on relevant dates of the Hebrew calendar, namely Chanukah, Tu B"Shevat, Purim, Pessach, Lag BaOmer, Shavuot, Tisha B'Av, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

The opinion articles (in Portuguese):

The intention was constructive. It aimed to spread knowledge about Jewish religion, culture and history, share the Jewish way of life, establish a new way of communication between the national Jewish community and society in general, and combat prejudice arising from ignorance. Judaism is part of the intrinsic values of Portugal, as well as of the Portuguese culture itself. The Jewish presence in the country predates the founding of the nationality.

In the last decade, the Jewish Community of Oporto has tried to combat antisemitism through positive action. In ten years, the community has been visited by more than 130 thousand school students, at the Kadoorie Synagogue, the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Museum (the Portuguese museum with the largest number of visitors in 2021), organised training courses for teachers, signed cooperation protocols of international scope with the Catholic Diocese and the Muslim Community, and created an observatory to monitor the evolution of antisemitism in Portuguese society.

Since 2012, the Educational Services of the Jewish Community of Porto have received well over 130,000 visitors, the overwhelming majority of which are young people attending school on study visits promoted by public and private education institutions, from primary school to higher education. This was the biggest and most fruitful national project to combat antisemitism and to promote Jewish history and culture.

School visits to the Jewish Museum

The visits cover topics as diverse as Jewish religion, culture and history. From the origins of Judaism and the Jewish people, through its diasporas and persecutions, special emphasis has always been given to the relationship between this old, important but minority group of our society and the history of Portugal.

School visits to the Holocaust Museum

At the Holocaust Museum of Oporto, it is possible to conclude that every moment of the hundreds of hours spent exploring, answering questions, creating analogies with realities known to students and teachers, basically, every moment spent educating, was and still is worthwhile.

Training courses for teachers

The Jewish community of Oporto organizes training courses for secondary school teachers, which are held at the Kadoorie Synagogue, at the Holocaust Museum and at the Jewish Museum of Oporto. The courses cover many themes relating to Jewish religion and culture as well as the Holocaust. Holocaust survivors and family members of survivors have attended these courses and each teacher has been given a copy of the book: “Os Dez Mitos Contra os Judeus” (Ten Myths against the Jews)

Inter-faith actions with the Catholic Diocese

The Jewish Community of Oporto has devised a global project involving close cooperation with Oporto Roman Catholic Diocese, with the following activities: social causes, helping children, the elderly and the sick; promotion of the Jewish Museum and the Episcopal Palace Museum; and the production of four films - "The Nun's Kaddish", "Sefarad", "1618" and "The Light of Judah" - covering events that have occurred over the centuries in Portuguese society.

Inter-faith actions with the Muslim Community

The Jewish Community of Oporto is one of the founding members of a global project that aims to rebuild bridges between Jews and Muslims. Named after a rabbi who gave his life defending the Prophet Muhammad, the Mukhayriq Initiative celebrates the great moments of historical brotherhood between Muslims and Jews. The story of Rabbi Mukhayriq shows that Muslims and Jews are not destined to be enemies. The need to discuss this history and source inspiration from it in today’s political context becomes all the more evident.

Department to Combat Antisemitism

The department to combat antisemitism aims to observe and follow in real time the antisemitic phenomenon on Portuguese territory, choose ways to mitigate or eliminate biases against Jews and Jewish communities, prepare scientific opinions and reports for dissemination and for action by the formal and competent control instances, raising the political forces’ awareness to the need to improve the existing legislation and promote school programmes to combat the “material image” of the Jew (synonymous with foreign, money, business and interest) which has been disseminated in Portugal for centuries, the collective guilt of “the Jews” as a social and religious group and the traditional myths against this people of forced migration.