Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

My Election Proves No Anti-Semitism Here, Says Portuguese Mayor

PORTO, Portugal — Some 300 Jews from eight countries, including the chief rabbi of Turkey, celebrated the introduction of a new Torah scroll into Portugual’s Kadoorie Synagogue.

The celebration on Jan. 29 in Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, in what is said to be the largest synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula, was the main event of a weekend organized by the local Jewish community, which has approximately 100 members. Many guests were applicants or prospective applicants for Portuguese citizenship under the country’s 2015 law of return for the descendants of Sephardic Jews.

“At a time of rising anti-Semitism across Europe, I want you to know that you are always welcome here, a place whose identity your communities have shaped forever,” Porto Mayor Rui Moreira said at the Kadoorie Synagogue while wearing a kippah. Moreira, a descendent of Ashkenazi Jews who arrived in Portugal in the 19th century, also said: “There is no anti-Semitism in Porto and I know this because I was elected mayor.”

He said the citizenship was a “necessary act of atonement” by Portugal for its part in the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the 16th century as part of the Portuguese Inquisition, which began shortly after the inquisition in Spain. Spain has a similar but stricter law of return for Sephardic Jews. The first recipients of Spanish nationality under that law received it last week.

Passed in 2013 and applied in 2015, the Portuguese law made the Jewish communities of Porto and Lisbon responsible for vetting applicants by tracing their lineage and cross-checking them in their archives. So far, hundreds have applied but only three have received nationality because Portugal did not have a justice minister, whose signature is required to finalize citizenships.

About one quarter of the guests at the celebration in Porto were from Turkey, including Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva. Unlike many of his countrymen at the event, he did not apply for citizenship. ”I am a Turkish Jew, period,” he said. Other guests came from Brazil, Mexico, Israel, South Africa and France.****





    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.