The Moroccan Jews of Cabo Verde: The Preservation of a Unique Heritage

Sunday, February 11

USA 12:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm ET

UK 8:00 pm / France 09:00 pm / Israel 10:00 pm

The talk will last approximately 90 minutes

About this talk

The story of the Jews of Cabo Verde is a continuation of the larger Sephardic/Moroccan Jewish Diaspora.

The Republic of Cabo Verde, an archipelago of ten islands, lies in the Atlantic Ocean about 300 miles off the coast of West Africa. As a result of over 500 years of Portuguese colonial rule, Cape Verdeans are predominantly Catholic. However, after Portugal abolished the Inquisition, Moroccan Jews openly started immigrating in the mid-1800s.

They prospered and were often considered pillars of the local economy. Because they were few and mostly male, many married local Catholic women. As a result of this assimilation, Cabo Verde today has virtually no practicing Jews. Yet, descendants of these families, speak with great pride of their Jewish ancestry.

Carol Castiel, founder of the "Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project", will explore the historical, economic, and political reasons for this migration, discuss why the practice of Judaism was not sustained in the long run, and address the efforts taken to restore and preserve Cabo Verde's several Sephardic burial grounds.

About Carol

Carol Castiel is the former director of current affairs programming at the Voice of America. For 20 years, she hosted the newsmaker interview program, "Press Conference USA," and the discussion program, "Encounter." She also oversaw the production of "Issues in the News," VOA's roundup of the week's top stories. She was also a contributing editor to the London-based West Africa Magazine, and managed scholarship programs for Portuguese-speaking Africa at the Africa-America Institute from 1984 to 1992.

After learning about the Jewish ancestry of her Cabo Verdean grantees in the early 1990's, Carol was inspired to join forces with descendant Janu├írio Nascimento, to help restore and preserve Cabo Verde's several Sephardic burial grounds. 

To help raise funds and international awareness, Carol founded in 2007 the "Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, Inc.," a non-profit organization, which aims to honor the memory and document the legacy of the many Sephardic Jews who immigrated to Cabo Verde from Morocco and Gibraltar in the 19th century. Carol donates her time and expertise to managing all aspects of the Project. She holds an M.A. degree in International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and is proficient in Portuguese, French and Spanish.

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