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Happenings in Portugal

75 Years Later

75 Years ago today the Rebbe sailed from Lisbon to New York. One day before traveling, the Rebbe recorded a diary entry dated the "16th of Sivan." Pictured below is a study session analyzing those very words and ideas in the place they were written. On the table is an enlarged reproduction of the manuscript.


My Shofar

 map for shofar.jpgIf my Shofar could see...


It would squint as the morning sun poured into a top floor of a Lisbon Hotel, watching three Jewish businessmen beaming as their Rosh Hashana morning began with the Shofar's call.


If my Shofar could hear...


It would notice the reverberating echo of its sound, bouncing off the tall ceiling of the Lisbon Synagaogue, where the prayers of thousands -- for more than a hundred years -- still echo on.


If my Shofar could smell...


It would notice the scent of Lisbon's parks as it traveled across the city meeting people who made the effort to begin their year together with it.


If my Shofar could taste...


Its Holiday meal would have been interrupted by the steady stream of people, taking time from their day to be in its presence.


If my Shofar could touch...


It would feel the burning Jewish soul, aflame with pride, listening to its soft notes on the street of busy Rua Castilho, in a Doctor's office on Antonio Augusto de Aguiar, or in a wood-paneled office on Duque de Loule.


Alas, my Shofar can only speak, and speak it did, asking G-d on our behalf to grant us a sweet new year...


A year of health and success, so we can fulfill all that we told ourselves we would, as we listened to its cry this Rosh Hashana.

Chocolate Seder

 Women's Evening


In preparation for Pesach, we had a Chocolate Seder, highlighting the many items used during the Seder, as we practiced and prepared for the real thing. We discussed the significance of the Seder Plate, and enjoyed their chocolate counterparts, and drank four cups of chocolate milk!

It was a lovely event, giving the many women in attendance the opportunity to share some of their own family customs, and provided a learning experience for all. 

Chanukah 5774-2013


The Celebration in Cinema City Beloura, was an event especially for the children. For the third consecutive year, together with our friends of Cinema City, the children enjoyed a magnificent celebration.


First the children tried their hand at a “Dreidel Piñata.” A Can Menorah was then constructed using the many cans donated by those in attendance. The cans were later donated to needy families.


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Since the summer and the establishment of Casa Chabad Cascais, we have had many activities in Cascais.

When we approached the Municipaltiy with the request for the Public Menorah and Celebration, the Mayor responded by asking,”When, Where and How?”

 The entire staff of the Municipality embraced the project and helped make it a huge success. At the suggestion of the Mayor, the location chosen was the most iconic part of Cascais, overlooking the Bay and into the Atlantic Ocean.

Mayor Carreiras called this Menorah “The closest Menorah in the world, to the Atlantic Ocean.”

On the 2nd night of Chanukah we had a celebration, with a beautiful attendance. One of the longtime Cascais residence remarked, “I have waited forty years for something like this to happen in Cascais.”



Already a fixture of the Chanukah Holiday, the Menorah in Lisbon is a highlight for many of the city’s residents. This year’s celebration brought the largest crowd ever to attend. The highlight of the event was the participation of many of the young Jewish professionals living in town.    Many of that demographic was honored with lighting a candle on the Menorah.

There was hot drinks and music to warm up the cold night.


Kosher Sushi?


On Sukkot, we had a Sushi in the Sukkah party. It was a real family event, with many people meeting each other for the first time. Children and adults alike enjoyed the Sushi made on location as over 6o people participated. During the course of the evening everyone had an opportunity to make the blessing on the Lulav and Esrog.

Behind the scenes...

While Sushi in the Sukkah, might be as simple as dialing a number in some larger Jewish cities. In Portugal it was something quite more detailed.

After enlisting and receiving guidance and support from a Jewish friend who runs a not (yet) Kosher Sushi Shop. We went about tracking down all necessary components.

Apprently Sushi rice need rice vinegar (who knew), thankfully the local health store carried an international brand with a Kosher symbol.

All was great until I called Avi (our friend who owns the Sushi place) and described to him my find. "Uh, Rabbi, you will need about twenty of those (150 ml) bottles."

The store I was in had 3 in stock... The event was tomorrow... A few minutes later the kind cashier gave me a map of the store branches in the Lisbon Cascais area. Each store had on average 3 or 4 bottles.

At midnight (with the assistance of a close friend, who works downtown near a shop that miraculously had 6 bottles!) bottle number 20 was purchased, just as Colombo Mall was closing!



Yeshiva Night

What do you do when Yeshiva students visit Portugal? Make a Yeshiva, of course.

This week we hosted Yeshiva students on break from their studies. Taking advantage of the opportunity, local Jewish individuals came together for an evening of one on one study with the visiting students.

It was a beautiful evening, where locals rotated learning with the different students. We had dinner together and a truly memorable evening.  IMG01239-20120808-2009.jpg

Shabbat Table Encounter

 Nancy and Richard contacted us through their local Chabad rabbi. They are traveling through Portugal and would like to spend Shabbat with Chabad.

Eric was one of our first Shabbat guests when we moved to Lisbon. He is an architect. We have kept somewhat in touch in the past couple of years.

About 10 months ago, Eric contacted us, telling us about a project he is doing. His grandfather and great grandfather escaped Belgium during WWII, due to the kindness of the Portuguese diplomat, Aristides de Sousa Mendes. He issued them visas to Portugal along with many other Jews at the time. In appreciation, Eric got involved with the Sousa Mendes foundation to build a pavilion outside the home commemorating the thousands of people save by this special person. 

When Eric got to Portugal and headed to Cabanas- the residence of Sousa Mendes. His mom, who was coming for the presentation along with the family, contacted us to come for Shabbat while they were in the country. The same week as Nancy and Richard

So, we had a big Shabbat planned. We all met in the synagogue and headed home together; Nancy and Richard, Eric and his family, and all the other guests.

As is the custom in our home when there are a lot of guests at the table, everyone introduces themselves and says why they are here.

It was Nancy and Richards turn and they start saying how before leaving home, they watched a documentary about Sousa Mendes. While watching this documentary, they heard that there will be a presentation at Sousa Mendes' residence, promoting his story and trying to raise funds to rebuild his home. This would take place during their trip, and they really wanted to attend.

Unfortunately, Nancy and Richard were in the Algarve- south of Portugal, on the day of the presentation, while the residence is in Cabanas- the north of Portugal. So they missed the event.

Unknowingly, or it was "Bashert" that they were sitting at the same table as the organizer of the project- Eric. In the end they got all the details about the Sousa Mendes project at the Shabbat table.


Tefilin in Portugal, all's well in Brazil

Friday morning, I receive an email from David. He is here visiting from Brazil. He is here in Lisbon for the next few days and forgot to bring his Tefilin, he wanted to know if we had a pair available.

We agreed to meet in Rossio square in downtown Lisbon, where my daughter Sara and I brought the Tefilin over.

When we met David, he was worried. He had just received word that his grandfather was ill, and was returning to Brazil to see him.

Handing over the Tefilin, I told him to keep it untill the morning he heads home. We both prayed for a recovery.

On Monday, before leaving for home, David returned the Tefilin.

A few days later I received this note: 

Hello rabbi, How are you doing? And little Sarah? I'd like to thank you again, putting the Tefilin those days were very important for me.

My grandfather is fine now, at home, it seems like nothing happend! We are all very happy.


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