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February 27, 2018 3:36 pm

‘We Want a Jewish Presence in Portugal,’ Government Minister Declares

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Congregation Shearith Israel in New York, the oldest congregation in the United States, which was founded by Portuguese and Spanish Jews. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – During a whirlwind tour that included dozens of visits to Jewish organizations in the United States, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism urged Jews to visit, invest in and seek citizenship in her country.

Ana Mendes Godinho visited New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and met with representatives from dozens of Jewish organizations, including the American Sephardi Federation, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.

“We want a Jewish presence in Portugal,” stated Mendes Godinho, “and we look to Jewish investment.”

She reminded representatives that Portugal passed a unique law in 2013 granting Portuguese nationality to Sephardic Jews who apply.

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“As we have a vast Jewish heritage, and a very ancient and profound connection to Jewish communities . . . we identified as a priority the promoting of the Jewish legacy and of the Jewish routes in Portugal,” she said. “It is quite interesting to remember that in the 15th century, [about] 20 percent of the Portuguese population was Jew[ish], so we always say that every Portuguese may have a Jewish origin.”

She also emphasized that the oldest synagogue in the United States, Shearith Israel in New York, was founded by Portuguese Jews.

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