Project Update
December 2012
Boa Vista Cemetery Renovation in progress
Boa Vista Cemetery Restoration in progress November 2012

Ocean View in Boa Vista near Cemetery, March 2012

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Cape Verde Minister of Culture Mario Lucio and Carol Castiel, March 2012
Meeting between Minister of Culture, Mario Lucio, and Carol Castiel, March 2012

Castiel, Cape Verdean President Jorge Fonseca, Sofia Veiga at Presidential Palace, March 2012, Praia
Carol Castiel, CV President Jorge Fonseca, Sofia Veiga, Presidential Palace, Praia, March 2012

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Rafael Benoliel, Architect, Boa Vista Cemetery Restoration Project, Lisbon, March 2012

Cape Verdean Jewish Descendants in Lisbon, March 2012

Sinagoga, Santo Antao

Mindelo, Sao Vicente

Dear Friends and Supporters of CVJHP,

It has been an exciting and eventful year for the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project.  During 2012, we began restoration on two Jewish cemeteries, reinforced ties with Cape Verde's Ministry of Culture, galvanized Jewish descendants in Cape Verde and Portugal, and continued archival research efforts in Gibraltar.


Thanks to the generous support of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco and to all of you, we have begun  restoration efforts on the Sephardic burial grounds in the island of Boa Vista and in the capital, Praia. Rafael Benoliel, a Lisbon-based architect and descendant of the legendary Benoliel family of Cape Verde, designed the blueprint for the Boa Vista project.  Israel Benholiel, owner of a local construction firm and also descendant of the Benoliel family, was selected to execute the work. In addition, CVJHP has spearheaded restoration of the small Jewish plot within the Christian cemetery in the capital, Praia. Physical restoration efforts on both cemeteries are slated to be completed by mid-January 2013.  




CVJHP hopes to set a date in late February or mid- March 2013 for a "re-dedication ceremony" of one or both cemeteries. In early January 2013, I plan to travel to Cape Verde to assess restoration efforts and to discuss possible dates with local and central government authorities. If you are interested in joining us for this historic and symbolic event, please let us know as soon as possible so we can contact you once the dates have been set. Please send an email to: We hope a cross-section of descendants, dignitaries and other representatives from the United States, Morocco, Gibraltar, and Portugal will participate in the re-dedication ceremony.  In January, I will also visit Santo Antao, the "Jewish" capital of Cape Verde, to begin planning with local authorities restoration efforts for the two burial grounds in that island where the majority of Jewish families from Morocco and Gibraltar settled in the 19th century.     




High Level Government and US Support 

During my visit to Cape Verde in March 2012, the Minister of Culture, H.E. Mario Lucio, expressed appreciation for CVJHP's efforts. CVJHP is grateful for the Ministry's  support and pledge to soon classify as national patrimony the Jewish cemeteries and other places of memory. Cape Verdean President Jorge Fonseca  welcomed CVJHP collaboration and the US Embassy in Praia strongly supports and endorses our efforts.   


Local Branch of CVJHP
CVJHP representative Salamith Spencer (of the Benchimol family) organized a meeting of local descendants during my visit in Praia including former Minister of Education Vera Duarte, the President of Cape Verde's Human Rights Commission Zelinda Cohen, Sofia Veiga, Nuno Levy, Januario Nascimento and historian Claudia Correia. All agreed on the necessity of creating a branch of the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project in Praia to replace AMICAEL, which is no longer active.  The local CVJHP organization should be up and running in early 2013 and will greatly facilitate our transatlantic cooperation.  
US Embassy/Descendants in Lisbon, Portugal
US Ambassador to Portugal, Allan Katz, received me at the Embassy in Lisbon and pledged his strong support of the Project with its inextricable ties to Portuguese history. Pedro Benros, leader of the many descendants of Cape Verdean Jews who reside in Lisbon, organized a wonderful luncheon on my behalf so that I could brief them on all aspects of CVJHP progress.  CVJHP counts on the descendants - whether in Lisbon, Cape Verde, the United States or elsewhere - to provide vital data and memories about their ancestors so we can properly document their legacy. I am grateful to Raquel Alice Cohen who hosted me in Lisbon and to all the descendants who pledged their support.

Parallel to restoration efforts, we are engaged in planning for a future symposium that will bring together researchers and scholars from Cape Verde, Portugal, Gibraltar, Brazil and the United States, whose research, inshallah/oxala, will culminate in a book about the presence of Jews in Cape Verde.  Linkages with Brazil are inevitable as we note that Moroccan Jews also left an indelible mark in the Amazon region. Joshua Marrache continues his original research in the Jewish archives of Gibraltar to document the inextricable linkage between Gibraltar and the Jews of Cape Verde.

Get the latest news about CVJHP from El Djudio and A Semana, now. Please check out new articles (in Portuguese) which  have been posted to the "Press and Publications" page of our Website. The Cape Verdean "A Semana" published an article about the Boa Vista cemetery restoration and the Brazilian Sephardic publication, El Djudio, featured CVJHP in their December edition. Also,  check out our YouTube video featuring remarks from Cape Verdean Ambassador to the U.S., Fatima Veiga; Congressman Barney Frank; B'nai B'rith Executive Vice President, Daniel Mariaschin; Rabbi Joshua Maroof; and John Wahnon.  


If you have not yet made your annual donation to CVJHP, it is not too late. 

CVJHP is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Make a Donation 
Or you may send a check to: CVJHP, 400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 812, Washington, DC  20001.


The Executive Board and I are proud of the patronage of H.M. King Mohammed VI.  But we continue to rely on each and every one of you for your contributions, no matter how small or large, to continue our work on cemetery restoration and preservation, research and documentation and promotion of heritage tourism. CVJHP has very little overhead. Most of us who work on the Project are volunteers.

The Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project stands as a beacon of hope in a world where religious extremism and sectarianism are on the rise.  By contributing to the Project, you are not only honoring and preserving the memory of the many Sephardic Jews who contributed to Cape Verde's economic, political and cultural development, but also sending an important message of tolerance to the world.

Please consider adding your name and gift to this important cause of honoring the memory of the Jews of Cape Verde by preserving their cemeteries and documenting their legacy.  

With gratitude and mantenhas,


Carol Castiel
Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project