BARROS BASTO TV SPECIAL
A TV special on Captain Barros Basto was shown on Portuguese
national TV station RTP2
on Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 9.00a.m.
LAUNCH OF NEW BARROS BASTO BOOK,
THE PORTUGUESE DREYFUS, PORTO, SEPT 2, 2007
A MIRAGEM MARRANA DE ALEXANDRE TEIXEIRA MENDES,
por Puedro Sinde a seguir
by manuel lopes azevedo
Author Alexandre Teixeira Mendes
signing copies at launch
(photo copyright by Monica Delicato)
. manuel lopes
azevedo, Yaacov Gladstone,
It was standing room only at the magnificent Kadoorie
Mekor Haim synagogue in Porto for the launch of a new
book on the life and work of Captain Barros Basto. The
book, by Marrano poet Alexander Teixeira Mendes offers a
new vision of the man and his times. Written in
Portuguese, (the English translation is underway), it is
entitled “Barros Basto, the Marrano Mirage”.
Barros Basto, a former Marrano himself, was a leader and
role model for thousands of Marranos hiding in the
villages of northern Portugal. He established the first
Yeshiva in Portugal, Rosh Pinah, since the forced
baptism of Jews in 1497. Captain Basto built the Mekor
Haim synagogue during the great depression (completed in
1938, the year 200 synagogues were destroyed in Europe)
as a spiritual haven to encourage Marranos to return to
their ancestral religion-Judaism.
The revival of open Judaism in Portugal was unacceptable
to the totalitarian Salazar government and the Catholic
Church. The captain was unjustly accused of homosexual
acts and stripped of his military rank and honour for
conducting circumcisions on returning Marranos. This was
a near fatal blow to the revival of the Marrano
movement. Those who came out fled back into hiding, many
losing their jobs and ostracized.
Captain Arthur Barros Basto was devastated and died a
broken hearted man in 1962. His granddaughter, Isabel
Barros Basto Lopes is supporting a campaign being
launched by the American and Portuguese Friends of
Marranos to clear his name. A petition seeking justice
for the captain will soon be launched.
The launch of Barros Basto, the Marrano Mirage, was made
possible by the generosity of Dr. Harold Michal-Smith
and Yaacov Gladstone, founder and president of the
American Friends of Marranos. They were both honoured
with a beautiful specially bound limited edition of the
book. Mr. Yaacov Gladstone announced a further donation
by the American Friends of Marranos to Ladina to support
the upcoming publication “Marrano Women in the
Inquisition” presently being researched by Fernanda
Guimaraes. It is hoped that the women portrayed will be
the subject of a play.
The book was presented by philosopher Pedro Sinde and
Yaacov Gladstone. Pedro advised the attentive audience
not to expect a traditional linear biographical story of
the Captain and his work of rescue amongst the thousands
of Marranos of northern Portugal. He resorted to a
metaphor of a tree to explain the book; Barros Basto is
the central trunk of the tree, surrounded by many
branches. Accordingly, the author may in fact be
describing biographical data, but then shifts to a
question concerning the oppression of the Catholic
church which in turn is linked to Salazar’s
dictatorship, and ultimately returns to the tree trunk
in a discussion of the oppression of the totalitarian
state on Barros Basto because of his democratic beliefs.
This rich narrative permits the reader to imagine Barros
Basto alive, accompanying him in his youth, during the
war, in the mysterious Oryamita Institute, in his work
of rescue, and in resisting the malicious connivance of
the “new state” and the Church. Contrary to most
authors, Alexandre transforms the object of his study
into his subject, making this a passionate book, not an
Notably, this is the first time in Portuguese
literature, (and this book IS literature, a book within
a book with its one hundred and sixty or so lengthy
footnotes), that a different concept of Portuguese
identity is discussed openly. Following theories
developed by Teixeira Pascoais, leader of the Portuguese
Renaissance movement at the turn of the 20th century and
of Antonio Telmo’s thesis of the secret history of
Portugal (Professor Telmo, himself a Marrano, wrote the
preface to the book), the author describes the
Portuguese psyche as essentially Jewish, a golden thread
of Portuguese literature revealed in Sampaio Bruno (the
“Covered One” in the 19th century, Fernando Pessoa (the
“Message”) in the 20th century, Camões in the epic
Lusiadas and Bernardino Ribeiro in “Menina e Moça” in
the 16th century, the latter published at the same
Jewish printing house in Ferrara that published Samuel
Usque’s “Consolation for the Tribulations of Israel” and
the Ferrara bible dedicated to Dona Gracia.
A beaming and visibly moved Yaacov Gladstone said how
proud he and Dr. Harold Michal-Smith were for helping to
make Alexandre’s dream come true. They had met Alexandre
four years previously when the book was only a dream.
Yaacov expressed the hope that other organizations such
as the American Sephardic Federation, The Joint
Distribution Committee, Jewish Federations, etc., will
understand the urgency of continuing the work of Barros
Basto to bring Jewish education to the Marranos or they
will disappear like the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng.
The American and Portuguese Friends of Marranos are
determined to help Marranos, wherever they may be, to
regain their Jewish identity. Readers who wish to
participate in this great mitzvah of bringing Jewish
education to the Marranos can make cheques payable to
“El Centro de Estudios Judios” and mail it to American
Friends of Marranos, 310 Lexington Avenue, Ste. 5D, New
York, New York, 10016 or email Yaacov at
CAPTAIN BARROS BASTO,
THE APOSTLE OF THE MARRANOS
by Inacio Steinhardt
Basto is a legend about whom a biography is waiting to be
But the life of a devout Jew
with a cause that failed is hardly
the stuff of best-sellers."
The above quotation from Elaine and Robert
Rosenthal's article "The Portuguese Dreyfus" was chosen by the authors
to open the book "Ben-Rosh ---- A Biography of Captain Barros Basto,
Apostle of the Marranos".
Did Barros Basto's cause really fail? and
Barros Basto, as a person, had a bitter end.
He was dismissed from the army and dishonoured and his yeshiva was
closed. Political enemies, and the hatred of the catholic clergy who
felt threatened by him, combined to take advantage of internal
dissensions among the Jews, and destroy him as a person.
Yet, those Jews who opposed Barros Basto's
work were convinced of their own righteousness, and each of them was
sure of acting in the best interests of the Jewish faith and of the
marranos. Were they right? It is important to be sure of this, lest the
same mistakes be repeated in our days.
Barros Basto was by nature a man of
principle and of action, devoted to the betterment of the world and of
humanity. He was one of the founders of scouting in Portugal; he fought
alongside, and worked with, the republicans who overthrew the monarchy;
he even founded a new religion - Oryam - in an attempt to mould the
character and the way of life of the "mountaineers" of his birthplace.
From his loving grandfather he learned the
secret of his family’s Jewish origin. This revelation led him to try to
force his way into the mainstream of Judaism, despite the opposition of
the Jewish community in his country.
His ancestors were "New Christians",
descendants of those Jews who had been forcibly converted to
Christianity in 1497. But they were not necessarily crypto-Jews or
marranos . The moment he returned to Oporto and began to form a Jewish
community with the few Ashkenazi residents of the town, he was surprised
at the number of his compatriots who appeared before him and admitted
having practiced Jewish rites in secret.
Fascinated with these revelations, Barros
Basto travelled extensively through the villages and towns of northern
Portugal, in order to get acquainted with these crypto-Jews, and to
learn more about their religious practices and their way of life.
He made no attempt to change such beliefs
and practices. What he did do was devote himself to stripping the
secrecy from their way of life, to convincing them that the Republican
revolution - in which he had taken part - had opened a new era of
freedom for the still practicing descendants of the Jewish victims of
forced conversion. Unfortunately, he did not know then just how
shortlived this freedom was to be.
Barros Basto’s "Work of Redemption" was
intended to lead the marranos into practicing their own version of the
Jewish religion openly and without fear, and to help them, by all
available means, to recover and bring up to date all the information
about Judaism which they had lost during the preceding four centuries.
The "Portuguese Marranos Committee" of
London, which was formed as soon as the news of the discovery of secret
Jews in Portugal became known in the Jewish World, approved Barros
Basto’s work and gave it financial support.
Not so Maurits Van Son, of Amsterdam, and
his "Nederlandsche Pro-Marrano Vereeniging".
In his booklet "Verleden en heden der
Marranen in Portugal" , Van Son, an orthodox Jew, wrote: "... They don’t
ask for anything, but their eyes speak for their will to be admitted
into the assembly of Israel."
They did not ask for anything, it’s true.
They don’t ask for anything even today. Their faith, and their belief,
were strong enough to keep them Jews - even in the eyes of their
Catholic neighbours - for 400 years. Why then should they need to ask to
be admitted? They believed in the Captain; they were ready to take the
hand that he extended to them, and eager to learn what he was teaching
them - the history of their people and their own history, the meaning of
their own Judaic traditions, and the comparable practices of the rest of
the Jewish World. By no means, however, were they ready to give up the
faith and the practices which they had learned from their grandmothers.
Manuel Marques, a one-time Catholic priest
who has since left the priesthood to return to secular life, had this to
say about the faith of the marranos: "I have changed, because everything
has changed around me.
It was the contact at the moment of death
that impressed me the most. I felt their faith to be so strong that I
could almost touch it. This became a big problem for me: I had come to
Belmonte in order to convert the Jews , to carry on the work of my
predecessors, but they were the ones who converted me."
Rabbi Baruch Ben-Jacob, a "haham" from
Salonica, whom the Dutch committee hoped to appoint as Chief Rabbi of
the marranos, decided to decline the position, because he could not go
along with the Captain’s views, nor with the attachment of the marranos
to their traditions.
On his departure, after he had told them
that old traditions would have to be abandoned and replaced by orthodox
practices, the old women of Bragança wondered "is Judaism a religion of
what to eat and drink and such material things?".
Yet Rabbi Ben-Jacob, in his report spoke of
his emotion: "I could not hold back the hot tears in my eyes. Thus
amidst a great enthusiasm of faith and religion, I departed sorrowfully
from such an impressive assembly".
The Jewish community of Lisbon had mixed
feelings about the discovery of the marranos. No Jewish heart could
remain unmoved, in the face of the phenomenon of people who were strong
enough to keep their Jewish faith for over 400 years. Some of the Jews
of Lisbon were in favour of accepting the marranos as they were; others
claimed that the marranos had already become "alien corn", and that any
contact with them would endanger the precarious status of the small
Jewish community of Portugal, which was itself seen as alien by the
authorities. Finally, there were those among the leaders of the
community who, after consulting the chief rabbi of Eretz Yisrael,
were willing to accept the marranos as brethren, provided only that
these would undertake to observe orthodox practices, and accept the
hegemony of the Lisbon community.
Under severe pressure as a result of the
problems created in his army service by religious enemies, the Captain
committed several grave mistakes in the management of the Community
which he led, and allowed personal feuds and jealousies to develop and
flourish among those persons whom he selected to replace him in his
work, during his absences.
The first anonymous denunciation to the
police was seen by the latter as an internal community matter, "the Jews
washing their dirty linen".
Nevertheless it was the first skirmish in
the long campaign of civil and military persecution against Barros Basto,
which in the end was to destroy him physically, though never in spirit.
The repercussions of the persecutions
against the captain, the closure of the yeshiva, the the freedom of
Growing strength of the reactionaries in the
Roman Catholic Church and of the political police, and last but not
least, the rise of Nazism in Germany, all worked together to frighten
those marranos who had believed the Captain, and who had prematurely
celebrated the freedom of religion.
The return to clandestine Jewish worship was
very hard, especially for the younger generation. In townlets and
villages, which when Barros Basto first arrived counted hundreds of
practicing crypto-Jews, there remain today only a few individuals,
sometimes only pointed out as "Jews" but ignorant of any Jewish
tradition. From time to time a son or a daughter of such a family finds
his or her way to full conversion, and seeks a place in mainstream
But there is no easy path from a secretive
marrano home to the Synagogue with all its internal divisions.
Traditionally, Judaism is not a religion of proselytism. Seldom are
newcomers received with love and open arms. Judaism is an ethnic
religion, and the Orthodox rabbis are usually suspicious of those who
tap at their doors. The marranos themselves are also cautious and
suspicious. These new searchers suffer, and resent the cold welcome
which they usually receive.
Nevertheless, there do exist examples of a
successful relationship, eventually leading to full integration. The
crypto-Jewish community of Belmonte has succeeded in surviving the
crisis. It is the only such community in Portugal to have done so.
Perhaps because the influence of Barros
Basto in Belmonte was less strongly felt (although some young men of
Belmonte attended the Yeshiva in Oporto, and never returned home...),
perhaps because of some sort of a feud that existed between Barros Basto
and Samuel Schwarz, the "discoverer" of the Belmonte community, perhaps
because Belmonte has been widely publicized by Schwarz and several other
visitors - the crypto-Jews of Belmonte were eventually offered full
integration into the mainstream of Judaism.
Twenty years ago, the present Catholic
priest of Belmonte claimed in a letter to this author that he personally
was against giving Catholic sacraments to people who, as an open secret,
kept the Mosaic law at home.
"Somebody should come from Israel to
convince them that now they are free to practice their religion in
public. Let them build a synagogue and I will be the first to help."
Father Registo’s wish became true. A
synagogue was built in Belmonte’s old Jewish quarter, "Marrocos."
Two factors have influenced the acceptance
of the change by the Belmontese marranos: the much wider choice of
marriage partners which followed the end of endogamy within the strict
family clan (this was already causing serious health problems) and the
end of religious matriarchy.
This article is being written shortly before
the presentation to the public of the biography of Arthur Carlos de
Barros Basto at the Kadoory Mekor Haim Synagogue, in Oporto, which he
himself proudly inaugurated in 1938, after all his years of trouble.
The synagogue was closed for many years, but
has reopened now for the benefit of a community of newcomers. Marranos
are seldom seen there.
One year earlier, on December 5th.1996 (the
date on which, 500 years previously, the Edict of Expulsion was signed
by king Manuel I), a synagogue - Bet Eliahu - was inaugurated in
Most of the Belmonte community have
converted to Judaism. But is that the appropriate verb to use?
"Converted"? People whom even the priests themselves, let alone the rest
of the population, called by no other name than "judeus" (Jews)? Did
they need to be "converted"?
They now pray in Hebrew; men wear talitoth
and tephilin, women go in the streets of Belmonte with fancy hats no
different than in Bnei Brak and Mea Shearim.
However, in the secrecy of their homes, they
still light the same traditional shabbat oil lamps, and bake their own
matsot..... after being for so many years "crypto-Jews", hiding their
religious acts from the eyes of the priests, they have become "crypto-marranos",
hiding their marrano activities from the rabbis.
Is there any reason for Orthodox mainstream
Judaism to claim exclusive proprietorship of the Jewish faith? Should
not such communities as the Falasha (Ethiopian), Ben Yisrael (India),
the Marranos and any other bona-fide Jewish groups (including
Conservative and Reform Jews) be considered equal members --- different,
perhaps, but equal nonetheless --- of the same religion?
Naturally those who choose orthodox Judaism
should be accepted according to the rules of Halakhah. Their motives
might be the absence of solid traditions in their families, or even the
wish to marry a member of a different Jewish group. But otherwise, why
should they need anybody’s approval to be what their forefathers taught
them to be?
Barros Basto’s biography is witness to the
difficulty of freeing oneself from the stigma, when one is descended
Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999 Inacio Steinhardt
Portal to a
Captain Arturo Carlos
de Barros Basto (the 'apostle of the Marranos)
December 13, 2002
Nestled along the
right bank of the Douro River in northern Portugal, the city of Oporto
seems an unlikely setting for one of the more intriguing, if lesser
known, dramas of 20th century Jewish history.
With its wide avenues, bustling port and increasingly profitable wine
industry, Oporto strikes the first-time visitor as a typical European
commercial hub, one in which medieval monuments and imposing cathedrals
stand within just a few blocks of modern office buildings and rows of
banks and other financial institutions.
And yet, down a small, unassuming street called Rua de Guerra Junqueiro,
stands a majestic synagogue called Mekor Haim (“Source of Life”) which,
some 70 years ago, was the focal point of an extraordinary, if brief,
revival of Jewish life among thousands of the region’s anousim (Hebrew
for "those who were coerced," as many Marranos prefer to be called).
The nascent movement to return to Judaism was led by none other than a
decorated Portuguese Army officer, Captain Arturo Carlos de Barros Basto,
who served his country faithfully in the First World War. And while his
determined efforts to spearhead a mass return to Judaism were ultimately
suppressed by the authorities, they continue to capture the imagination
of Jews and non-Jews alike.
Born in a village near Oporto in 1887, Barros Basto was a descendant of
anousim, and he grew up with vague memories of his grandparents secretly
lighting candles on Friday nights and observing other Jewish rituals.
“There does not seem to be any doubt that his grandfather knew of his
family´s Jewish origins… and that he transmitted this knowledge to his
grandson,” notes Inacio Steinhardt, Tel Aviv correspondent for the
Portuguese News Agency and co-author of a 1997 biography of Barros Basto.
At an early age, says Steinhardt, Barros Basto had a tendency “to abhor
certain facets” of the Catholicism he was raised with, “and to idealize
a more sublime relationship with the Creator.”
In 1916, while fighting on the European front, Barros Basto commanded an
infantry squadron and saw action in Flanders, where he even survived a
gas attack. There, according to historian Howard M. Sachar, Barros Basto
had an experience that would prove to be a turning point in his life.
One Friday evening, he ambled into the tent of a French liaison officer
who happened to be Jewish. When he saw the officer lighting candles, the
Frenchman explained that it was a “Jewish Sabbath tradition”. For Barros
Basto, writes Sachar in his book Farewell Espana: The World of the
Sephardim Remembered, “the dim memory of his grandparents’ ritual
suddenly locked into focus.” He returned to Portugal a changed man.
Determined to undergo formal conversion to Judaism, Barros Basto
overcame numerous obstacles and made his way to Spanish Morocco, where
he fulfilled his goal and returned to the faith of his ancestors under
the guidance of the rabbinate in Tetuan.
With a newfound zeal, Barros Basto returned to Oporto, married a Jewish
woman, and set about the task of encouraging his fellow crypto-Jews to
come out of the closet and openly return to the Jewish people. He
established a synagogue and started a weekly newspaper, HaLapid, in
which he wrote under his Hebrew name of Abraham Ben Rosh.
Dressed in his military uniform, Barros Basto began visiting remote
areas throughout northern Portugal, pleading with the anousim to embrace
Judaism. “He initiated a process of welcoming the crypto-Jews and their
descendants back to Judaism”, says Rufina Bernardetti Silva Mausenbaum,
a writer and descendant of Portuguese anousim. “He travelled to the
villages and towns to reassure these frightened people that it was safe
at last to openly practice Judaism once more… of these trips were made
with two medical doctors accompanying him to perform circumcisions when
As a result of these efforts, Barros Basto quickly became known as the
“Apostle of the Marranos”, and within a few years his efforts began to
bear fruit when the Mekor Haim synagogue in Oporto was formally
dedicated. The building, which was donated by Elie Kadoorie, and built
on land that had been purchased by Baron Edmond de Rothschild of Paris,
came to serve as a kind of headquarters for Barros Basto’s movement to
restore the anousim to the Jewish people.
Recognizing the importance of education, Barros Basto succeeded in
establishing a yeshiva on the synagogue’s premises, which he called Rosh
Pina, Hebrew for “cornerstone”. The school operated for nine years,
during which it trained some 90 students in subjects ranging from Hebrew
to Jewish history and tradition.
All these activities, however, did not go unnoticed by the church and
the authorities, neither of whom looked too kindly on Barros Basto’s
efforts, particularly when thousands of people began to respond to his
call to return to Judaism.
“Anti-Semitism was rampant in Europe during the `30s, working against
his efforts and dreams,” says Mausenbaum. “This wave of anti-Semitism
swept through Portugal as well, affecting the resurgence of Jewish life
he had sparked, which was viewed with severe criticism by the Church and
the new regime headed by Antonio Salazar [the authoritarian Portuguese
premier who ruled from 1932 to 1968 - MF].”
In 1935, a local Oporto priest named Tomaz Correia da Luz Almeida set in
motion a series of events that would ultimately lead to Barros Basto’s
dismissal from the army and the disintegration of the burgeoning
movement he had founded.
Anxious to stem the tide of those abandoning Catholicism to return to
Judaism, Almeida brought trumped up charges against Barros Basto to the
police, alleging that he was a “degenerate” who engaged in homosexual
acts with his students. The Oporto prosecutor brought charges against
Barros Basto, leading the Portuguese Army to initiate court-martial
proceedings against him. After dragging on for over two years, the case
was finally dropped in 1937 for lack of evidence.
But, as historian Sachar puts it, “the damage was done. By the
mid-1930s, parents had withdrawn their children from the Rosh Pina
school, and Barros Basto had become persona non grata among his
once-devoted marrano followers.” In 1943, the Portuguese Ministry of
Defense, citing unspecified reasons of “good and welfare”, revoked
Barros Basto’s commission as an officer and summarily drummed him out of
the service, leading historians to dub him the “Portuguese Dreyfus”
(after the French general staff officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was wrongly
accused and convicted of treason in 1894).
The thousands of anousim whom Barros Basto had inspired to investigate
their Jewish ancestry and heritage quickly got the message: it was not
yet safe to return to Judaism. And then, almost as quickly as it had
begun, the movement Barros Basto initiated rapidly faded away.
Climbing the stairs to the Mekor Haim synagogue’s top floor, I proceed
down a hallway and enter the library. Lining the shelves are a variety
of religious books, many of them dusty and torn, signifying both their
age and the ample use to which they were once put. Impulsively, I open a
cabinet on the wall, where I discover a pile of old booklets in
Portuguese, carefully bound and wrapped as if awaiting distribution.
“Catecismo Israelita” (The Belief System of Israel), a 59-page volume,
discusses the mission of the Jewish people in this world as well as
various aspects of Jewish philosophy and practice. “Judeus & Proselitos”
(Jews and Converts), explains in 45 pages the meaning of conversion and
Jewish attitudes toward converts throughout the ages. Both booklets
proudly bear the name of “A.C. de Barros Basto” on their cover, and
state that they are publications of Yeshivah Rosh-Pinah, the school he
worked so hard to establish.
Leaving the room, I proceed to the women’s balcony, which overlooks the
main sanctuary where untold numbers of Portuguese anousim, undoubtedly
led by Barros Basto himself, once gathered to offer prayers just as
their ancestors had done before them. The interior of the synagogue is
strikingly beautiful, yet the silence in the room is as piercing as it
“The synagogue may be empty, but you can feel the voices of the
worshippers who once prayed here,” says Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum, the
former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay who accompanied me on the visit. “Though
the library and beit midrash are no longer in use, you can still feel
and hear the students who once sat here, learning Torah and grappling
with the age-old question of what it means to be a Jew,” he tells me.
And yet, I remain troubled. Here, for a few brief years some seven
decades ago, an abrupt awakening had taken place. Thousands of
Portuguese men and women whose ancestors had been coerced into adopting
Christianity five hundred years ago, suddenly stepped out of hiding and
sought to reclaim what had been taken from them by force. Could it be, I
thought, that the Pintele Yid, the Jewish spark, had survived in
Portugal for all those centuries only to come alive briefly in the
1930’s and then be snuffed out in a spasm of intolerance by Barros
No, Rufina Mausenbaum later reassured me, Barros Basto’s accomplishment
was not short-lived. “Though he never quite succeeded in reviving the
full potential of Portuguese Judaism in his time,” she said, “I believe
he gave hope and strength and helped nurture the Jewish soul of the
secret-Jewish communities of Portugal.”
Today, she notes, Portugal´s young anousim look to Barros Basto as an
inspiration, “speaking openly and wishing for their own ‘Ben Rosh’, as
he was known, to assist them in their return”.
Indeed, Barros Basto biographer Inacio Steinhardt says that most of the
current congregation’s few dozen members are “people that found their
Jewish roots and returned to Judaism or are in the process of
returning.” An ambitious effort by the synagogue’s dynamic Israeli-born
president, Moshe Medina, he notes, aims at drawing in local anousim,
welcoming them into the community and educating them about Judaism.
Medina’s brother, Marco, confirms that a rebirth, of sorts, is underway.
Just recently, he relates, he was sitting at a café in Oporto reading a
book in Hebrew. A young Portuguese man came over and asked him what
language he was reading. “When I told him, he got all excited because he
was from the anousim,” says Medina. “He said to me, ‘I love Israel and I
love the Jewish people – my people’. So I invited him to come to the
synagogue, to learn more about his heritage.”
“I get calls every week from Portuguese Marranos seeking a connection
with Judaism,” Medina says. “They want to learn more, celebrate the
holidays, and become Jews. There are hundreds and hundreds of anousim in
this area, and we need to reach out to them.”
It seems, then, that Rufina Mausenbaum was right, after all. Decades
later, Barros Basto’s efforts continue to reverberate among Oporto’s
hidden Jews. “His dreams and his deeds,” she told me, “were
And so, it appears, is the tenacity of the Jewish soul, which, against
all odds, is struggling to reemerge in places such as Oporto.
And while they may face an uphill battle, Portugal’s anousim can at
least find solace in the fact that although their commanding officer,
Captain Arturo Carlos de Barros Basto, is no more, his dream and his
spirit live on.