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Captain Barros Basto, the Portuguese Dreyfus

May 2

| free program but pre-registration required
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Artur Carlos de Barros Basto was a captain in the Portuguese military who was discharged as a Jew despite having been raised as a Catholic. Descended from a family forcibly converted during The Inquisition, he rediscovered his Judaism and underwent a formal conversion. Then he built the largest synagogue in the Iberian peninsula in order to attract other “conversos” to reclaim the religion of their ancestors. A remarkable story! 



⇒ April 30-May 3, watch Luis Ismael‘s film Sefarad on your own (available on Amazon Prime).

⇒ Sunday, May 2 at 2:00 p.m. US Eastern Time, tune into the program with our distinguished panel of guests.  A link will be provided to all who register.




Inacio Steinhardt

Inacio Steinhardt was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1933 and made aliyah in 1976. He co-authored with Elvira Mea a biography of Captain Barros Basto and authored many articles in several languages. He is a retired journalist representing the Portuguese News Agency LUSA in Israel. He was given a “lifetime achievement” award from the Institute for the Research of Judaism in Spain and Portugal of Natanya College in Israel. He was President of the Israel-Portugal Friendship Association. In 2002 he was decorated by the President of Portugal as Commander of the Order of Merit.

Elvira Mea (2)

Elvira Cunha de Azevedo Mea (left), Professor of History at the University of Porto, is a leading world expert on the Jewish history of Portugal. She is the author of Amílcar Paulo. O Delfim do Capitão Barros Basto, Evolua Edições, Porto. 2018; A Inquisição de Coimbra no Século XVI. A Instituição, os Homens e a Sociedade, Fundação Eng. António de Almeida, Porto, 1997 and 2019; O Porto Judaico. Encruzilhadas de Vidas nos Caminhos da História, Evolua Edições, Porto, 2020; and, in English, Jewish Oporto. Crossed Lives in the Paths of History, Evolua Ed, Porto, 2020.

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Dara Jeffries (right), a dual-national who splits her time between the United States and Portugal, will speak about Jewish life in Porto today. She chairs the Supervisory Board of the Jewish Community of Porto, of which she has been a member since childhood. She speaks at international film festivals and conferences about the Community’s films, museums and educational programs. Dara holds a Masters in languages from Oxford University, a Portuguese Law degree and a US Law degree, and is a practicing attorney. 

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Jeannette V. Fischer (Cookie) (left) will speak about Samuel van den Bergh, her great-grandfather, who worked with Captain Barros Basto to finance the construction of the Porto synagogue. Born in Peru of European parents, she has lived and worked in the US, Asia, Europe, Mexico, South America, and Israel. Her mother escaped from Bayonne, France on June 22, 1940 on a sardine schooner with a visa issued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes. She speaks nine languages and is a teacher, trainer, coach, and consultant working on multilingual and transdisciplinary projects.

Mariana (1)

Mariana Abrantes (right), who will moderate the panel, is the Board Treasurer of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. Coming from a village in central Portugal, she studied Economics at UC-Berkeley and earned an MA from Princeton. After training and working in Chase Manhattan Bank, she returned to Portugal, where she worked at the European Investment Bank. She also served in the Ministries of Transport and Health, and on the Boards of international investment funds and the Fulbright Commission Portugal. She is a dual Portuguese-US citizen.


The registration deadline for this program is Thursday, April 29 at 10 PM US Eastern Time. Instructions and links will be sent to all registrants the following morning, and again on the morning of the program.



May 2
free program but pre-registration required
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