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Propose Jewish Mission to Marranos in Portugal; Plan Outlined in London

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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

A proposal to form an organization for the purpose of bringing the Marranos, or the Crypto-Jews of Portugal, back to Judaism, was made in the report of Mr. Lucien Wolf, secretary of the Joint Foreign Committee of the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Board of Jewish Deputies, to the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Alliance Israelite Universelle, published here.

“From time to time we have waxed enthusiastic over other more or less dubious off-shoots from Jewry, such as the Chinese Jews of Kai-feng-fu, the Falashas of Abyssinia, the Black Jews of Cochin and the Daggatoun of Timbuctu. But these Marranos are much nearer to us. They are part and parcel of European Jewish history, the near kindred of all our Sephardic congregations in Western Europe and America, and the descendants of men and women who for two and a half centuries, waged an heroic fight in defence of Judaism for which their co-religionists can never sufficiently testify their admiration and their gratitude. They have a claim upon us which we cannot put aside. If we may not be able to satisfy it to the full, we should, at any rate, not spare the effort to do so,” the report stated.

The broad lines of the organization of a proposed Mission to the Marranos are indicated by Mr. Wolf in the report. On the educative side, public lectures in towns like Covilhao and Belmonte would prove very useful. They should be combined with other functions and celebrations which would bring home to the Marranos something of the aspects of Judaism. It would be desirable to prepare and circulate a certain number of handbooks in Portuguese dealing with the same matters. These should include a Prayer Book compiled from the earliest Portuguese Tephilloth. Such a book would unquestionably impress the Marranos, who are sadly in want of additions to their collection of prayers. Then handbooks of Jewish doctrine and ceremonial and popular histories of the Jews in general and those of Portugal in particular would do much to stimulate a better instructed Jewish spirit in the Marrano home circle.

“The plan that I submit to the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Alliance Israelite,” Mr. Wolf stated, “is that, with the co-operation of the Lisbon congregation, a Jewish Mission be established at Oporto. The Chief of the State, who discussed Jewish questions with me, concluded the audience by saying: ‘If at any time you find any difficulty in carrying out your plans for the succor of our Jews, do not hesitate to write to me. You may rely upon me to do everything in my power to help you’.”

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