Yesterday, Tuesday, during the accreditation of new ambassadors in Israel, including that of the Portuguese Ambassador, Isaac Herzog publicly revealed that he wishes to visit the Jewish Community of Oporto on his next trip to Portugal which is scheduled for next November.
In the presence of Luís Silva Barros, the new Portuguese Ambassador to Israel, Herzog made a point of recounting the history of the Jews in Portugal over a period of centuries, interrupted by an unjust law and a deeply hateful inquisitorial period. Speaking about today, he stated “We care about the Jewish community there,” showing he was particularly interested in the Jewish community of Oporto that he wishes to visit with his wife, who speaks Portuguese fluently.
The Israeli President’s visit to the Jewish community of Oporto is in response to an official invitation made by the organisation which wishes to show him its diverse congregation (men and women, old and young, people from 30 countries) as well as its synagogues, museums, cemetery, restaurants and historical films. The Jewish renaissance of Oporto, which occurred in little more than a decade, was recently considered as an “example for Europe” by the European Jewish Association.
Both the Community museums have texts and films about Israel and about Isaac Herzog’s own family. The Holocaust Museum has pictures of his grandfather, Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the country, while the Jewish Museum has a room dedicated to Operation Yonatan which aims to bring young Portuguese Jews closer to Israel.
Gabriel Senderowicz, President of the Jewish Community of Oporto, takes great pride in the forthcoming visit of Herzog and his charming wife, should it actually occur. “Israel is the spiritual home of all the Jews in the world, the place where we have lived constantly for over three millennia, site of our most sacred places, with six million brothers from all over the world who speak hundreds of languages. In this community we are all Israelis, both those who were born there and those who have the right to emigrate to that country. We are all people of Israel.”
Senderowicz adds that “the President will visit what is one of the strongest Jewish communities in Europe as regards religion, culture, education and the fight against antisemitism. In the last two years, the Holocaust Museum has welcomed 100 thousand Portuguese teenagers, about 10% of the total teen population of Portugal. One of the Community's projects to combat this scourge is the film "1618" about the inquisition in Oporto, which is the most internationally awarded film ever in the history of Portugal. Airlines from Arab countries have purchased the rights to screen the film.”
David Garrett, member of the Jewish Community of Oporto for legal affairs, recalls that “President Herzog was the only politician in the world who was not paralysed and deceived by the word ‘corruption’ used against our Community in 2022. We were the target of an old Soviet ploy: a slanderous anonymous denunciation told the police that the rabbi corrupted registry offices, the police charged him with corruption and the press mentioned the presence of billionaires. Suddenly, the whole world was adding up corruption to rabbi and billionaires. This shows how easy it is to destroy a Jewish community.”
Isaac Herzog’s visit to Portugal also includes a kosher meal with the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a Portuguese statesman whom, in its book on the centenary, the Jewish community of Oporto has always considered “a true friend to all Jews”. The meal will be prepared with the help of the entire Portuguese Jewish community, including Chabad Portugal.