More than a thousand descendants of Jews expelled from Portugal in the 15th century have obtained Portuguese nationality since March of 2015, date when legislation allowing for that came into effect, the Jewish Community of Oporto revealed this Friday. “By force of the legislation that allows Portuguese Sephardic Jews to request, by their condition, Portuguese nationality, a rapprochement of Sephardi Jews with Portugal”, stated Dale Jeffries, the spokesman for the Jewish Community of Oporto (JCO).
To signal this achievement, JCO, according to which “to date more than a thousand Sephardi Jews have acquired Portuguese nationality”, promotes a concert on the 16th of November, 2017 in Oporto’s Casa da Música.
Tickets can be found here
Sephardic is a term that describes the descendants of the Jews that lived in Spain and Portugal before the religious persecution of which they were a targeted since the late 15th century.
According to the organizer, the Concerto da Memória Sefardita (Concert of Sephardic Memory) is “a way of thanking” the Portuguese State, for allowing the rendezvous of the community “with the descendants of those that already lived in this territory, since before the birth of nationality”.
“Tradition and Modernity – Tribute to our Jewish musical heritage” is the motto of the concert which will take place at Oporto’s Casa da Música and that will see performances by the lyrical singers Linet Saul (soprano) and Judith Rajk (contralto), both Sephardic Jews of Portuguese origin, that will interpret a diverse range of musical pieces, joined by the Orquestra of ESMAE – Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo (Technical College of Music and Performance Arts).
Also featuring in this concert will be, according to JCO, the mixture of Portuguese, Castellano and other languages known as Ladino, spoken and sung even today in many countries, by over 150 thousand Jews of Portuguese and Spanish origin.
“The Jewish Community of Oporto does not only have religious ends. The promotion of Hebrew history and culture, which leads us to have a Jewish museum open and receiving at synagogue thousands of students annually, both Portuguese and foreigners, are some of the other priorities in which we apply ourselves”, adds Dale Jeffries.
The Concert of Sephardic Memory is composed by seven moments which include Psalm of The Distant Dove of Hugo Weisgall, three excerpts of the Hebrew version of Esther by Händel, excerpts of Seven Sephardic Folk Songs by Shimon Cohen, The Exodus Song by Ernest Gold and the Theme of Sephardi Memory authored by maestro and clarinet player António Saiote.
“While the ‘art of museum’ is not permitted in synagogues, it’s interesting to note that art and music are the essence of Hebrew prayer. Almost every prayer is made from a musical basis”, highlights Dale Jeffries.
In April of 2013, the Portuguese Parliament approved a change to the Law of Nationality, which provided for the granting of nationality by naturalization to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardi Jews, and in July of that year the law was published and should have been regulated within 90 days.
However, it was only at the end of August 2014 that the Ministry of Justice presented to the Jewish communities in Lisbon and Porto a draft decree-law for the regulations and the decree-law regulating the granting of Portuguese nationality by naturalization to descendants of Sephardi Jews was approved by the Government in January 2015.
The decree-law was promulgated by the then President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and published in Diário da República at the end of February 2015, coming into force on March 1 of the same year.
Translated from the Original in Portuguese found here