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J. D. B. News Letter

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The foundation stone of the new building of the Synagogue “Mekor Haim” in Oporto, was laid yesterday on a site purchased by the Community in the Guerra Junqueiro Street. The purchase of the site and the building of the synagogue are being generously subsidized by the Pro-Marrano Committee in London, which was founded in 1926 through the initiative of Lucien Wolf, and is aiming to assist the Portuguese Marranos and crypto-Jews to return to the Jewish faith.

It is due to the aid of the Pro-Marrano Committee that it has been possible to establish the Jewish communities of Oporto and Braganca, which consist mostly of Marranos, who have publicly reverted to the faith of their ancestors. The Jewish community of Braganca consists exclusively of Marranos.

The street in which the Oporto Community is erecting its synagogue is named after the great Portuguese poet, Guerra-Junqueiro, who was of Marrano descent, and bore a striking resemblance to the famous Rembrandt “Portrait of a Rabbi.” He died about four years ago.

Captain Arthur Carlos de Barros Basto, the founder and president of the Jewish Community of Oporto, himself an ex-Marrano, is the apostle and the inspiring leader of the movement of the Portuguese Marranos to Judaism. On the solemn occasion of the laying of the first stone of the new synagogue of Oporto, the crypto-Jews of Belmonte and Covilhan addressed a message to Captain Barros Basto, through Samuel Schwartz, in which they said: “Your co-religionists in Belmonte and Covilhan, are with you heart and soul and congratulate the eminent Jew, Captain Barros Basto, for his great work, and wish the Jewish Community of Oporto peace and prosperity. Peace unto Israel.”

The Oporto Synagogue “Mekor Haim,” which is now being replaced by a new building, is situated in the Rua do Poco des Patas. It was consecrated on July 1, 1917, among those present being Moses Bensabat Amzalak, the President of the Lisbon Community. The synagogue serves not only as a house of worship for the Jewish residents of Oporto, but is attended by Marranos from other parts of the country, who wish to familiarize themselves with various aspects of Judaism.

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