Discurso do Rabino Dr. Avraham Levy
Spiritual Head of the Spanish and Portuguese Community
It is a great honour for my wife Estelle and myself to join you today in
these Celebrations. As rabbi of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews' Congregation
London, I bring you greetings from the community that was started 350 years ago
by Portuguese Jews led by the great rabbi Manasseh ben Israel who it is believed
was born in the city of Lisbon. To this day we use the Portuguese language in
our synagogue thus showing the loyalty that we have for a country where we lived
in peace and tranquillity prior to our expulsion and forced conversion in the
It was in this country that our ancestors started one of the first Hebrew
printing presses in the world which produced numerous incunabula for the use of
the Jewish people.
My personal loyalty to this country goes further. It was Dr Samuel Levy's and my
great great great grandfather Moses Levy who was one of the founders of the new
Jewish community in Lisbon 200 years ago and it was my great grand uncle and
namesake Abraham Levy who was one of the founders of this Synagogue.
What message can I give you today as a rabbi. The walls of this synagogue are
seeped with the sound of prayer, walls which have witnessed countless tears shed
by Jews whose hearts and minds were directed to their God in heaven.
Community leaders have two main tasks to perform to preserve the structure of
the community its buildings and institutions, and to use those structures to
bring in religious content and observance of the mitzvot .
Sephardim are particularly good at protecting structure look at the magnificent
buildings in Amsterdam, London and New York. We are proud of our structures and
so we should be. Similarly here in Lisbon you have a beautiful synagogue with
elegant surroundings but this alone will not preserve our traditions nor
guarantee our continuity.
This is Lisbon's first purpose built synagogue. For 100 years a hundred years
before this Synagogue was built the community thrived only on Torah values -content
Today we need both. We rejoice at the centenary of this building but must commit
ourselves to participate in the religious activities of this community .
Leaders of ancient monuments, like the aristocracy can be caretakers or
initiators. Caretakers refurbish the furniture, preserve the paintings and
repair the rugs. Initiators build on great traditions of the past, create new
facilities for education, and progress religiously.
My community of Spanish and Portuguese Jews in London are proud of warm
relationship we have with your ambassador his Excellency Jose Faria. The Jewish
people here today are proud to welcome so many distinguished guests Jews
Christians Moslems Hindus Baha'is and others. You demonstrate a religious
tolerance and unity which is the envy of the rest of Europe during these
troubled times. We remember with gratitude Aristides de Sousa Mendes and others
who saved so many thousands of Jews from the Nazi gas chambers by supplying them
with Portuguese passports. In the same way that we, the representatives of the
major religions, have gathered together today, in an act of friendship - so may
this spirit prevail in the Middle East and throughout the world. May we always
remember that what unites us is more important than what separates us.
May God bless you all.