Boa Vista is the easternmost and third largest island of the Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) group. Its largest city is Sai Rei. A Jewish cemetery exists on the island of Boa Vista, where the family Ben'Oliel arrived after the Moroccan persecution in 1872. Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [November 2000]

"Under the auspices of a local non-governmental organization, Association for the Defense of the Environment & Development, the Jewish group has submitted a proposal for the rehabilitation of cemeteries complete with an architectural blue-print to the Jewish Heritage Council of the World Monuments Fund in New York." Source: article in The Jewish Week, January 5, 1995, p.21

Boa Vista Island Jewish History. [August 2009]

CEMETERY: Image and history: "A Jewish Cemetery exists on the island of Boa Vista, containing the graves of the Ben'Oliel family. These graves can be seen in close proximity to The Marine Club, at the far end of Praia Cabral, to the north of Sal Rei, on the right, within the small Jewish Cemetery, isolated between the beach and the new property developments springing up. The graves are encompassed by low stone walls. Hebrew inscriptions are visible on the graves. This graveyard is to be preserved. The Ben'Oliel family were wealthy Jewish merchants who fled Rabat in Morocco with the Moroccan persecution of the Jews in 1872. They settled in rua Amilcar Cabral, Sal Rei, in what today is known as the Migrante Guesthouse, a real colonial house. Today, one of the suites in Migrante is still known as the Ben'Oliel suite. The Jewish community is heavily entwined in the early history of Cape Verde. The Jews had suffered for centuries under anti-semitic sentiment in Spain and Portugal. With the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, this sentiment spread to Portugal, and many Jews were expelled to Sao Tome and Principe and Cape Verde. These Jews had been very successful in Portuguese commerce, navigation, cartography etc. In Cape Verde they were allowed to engage in trade as long as they did not compete with the Portuguese monopolies. On Boa Vista the Ben 'Oliel family traded in hides, salt and slaves. However it must be emphasized that they operated as brokers within a system endorsed by the Portuguese kings who made great fortunes. Interestingly an Israel Ben'Oliel of Cape Verde ran in the Boa Vista Ultramarathon in 2004. It would appear that there are still many people of Jewish decent resident on the islands, probably not all practising Jews though. Alongside these graves is the grave of Julia Maria Petingall, a 19 year old English woman, daughter of Charles Petingall, an administrator of the Luso-British Commission on slavery. Julia was a victim of Yellow Fever, which struck Boa Vista in the 1840s. She and her family left for another island to avoid the illness. However they returned to Boa Vista as her father believed the threat was over. Sadly it was not. Julia died in November 1845 at the age of 19. Then on the boat to Sao Nicolau, her father died, followed by her fiancé. Beyond the Marine Club are the ruins of a chapel and a path leading up to it. There was once a house here, with steps leading down to the beach." [August 2009]

In the l9th and 20th century Praia cemetery, about eight grave markers were still extant with Hebrew inscriptions. These were originally outside of the cemetary walls, but as it expanded, the walls were relocated and thereby integrated these deceased Jews with their Crioulo cousins. [August 2009]

[UPDATE} Rediscovering and Restoring Cape Verde’s Jewish Heritage. [November 2018]


Last Updated on Saturday, 03 November 2018 00:30