Initiative aims to bring young Jews closer to Israel
(Washington, D.C., July 21, 2021)--The Jewish Museum of Oporto, in Portugal, opened a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Entebbe hostage rescue on July 19. The exhibit features videos and other materials that tell the story of that momentous rescue of Israeli hostages from Uganda in 1976.
Israel’s ambassador to Portugal, Raphael Gamzou, said, “This room, dedicated to Operation Yonatan, teaches us that distance, logistics or any other challenge would never be an excuse for Israel not to do the most in order to save the lives of its citizens.”
Gabriela Cantergi, president of B'nai B'rith Portugal, said the room that has just opened is "dedicated to young Jews who have no memories of the many counter-terrorist actions that the IDF and Mossad have faced in the past and certainly are prepared to face in the future as well."
She added that the idea of building a room dedicated to the Entebbe operation came from an event that brought together young Jewish leaders of various nationalities in Oporto in June. "The young people's main concern was whether Israel could stop a new Holocaust in any country in the world, to which the Israeli ambassador, and the president and CEO of B'nai B'rith International, present at the event, clearly replied that it could," Cantergi said.
B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin were guests of the Oporto community and B’nai B’rith Portugal at last month’s young adults forum.
“The daring, heroic Entebbe raid is not only the greatest hostage rescue in Israel’s history, it represents Judaism’s commitment to the value of preserving life," Kaufman said. "As the Talmud teaches, ‘Whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved the entire world.’ The rescue of 103 hostages by the Sayeret Matkal commandos took less time than it took to fly from Israel to the Ugandan airport. Just a decade after the herculean Six Day War, Operation Thunderbolt in Entebbe ushered in a new high watermark of recognition and admiration for the Jewish State throughout the world."
Mariaschin said, “The hostage rescue in Entebbe exemplifies Israel’s strength and resolve. Dedicating an exhibit to that historic moment enables all visitors to the museum to know that Israel protects its people, wherever they may be."
In the official video on the Entebbe operation room and its integration in the Jewish museum, Jewish children of the Oporto community are seen thanking Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, who was killed in action during the rescue operation. In the video, the narrator notes: “Thanks to Yonatan and the IDF, the world learned that the abduction or death of Jews would carry a very high price.”
Besides the Entebbe operation room, the Jewish Museum of Oporto shows millennia of Jewish people's history—the Golden Age in Sefarad, the expulsion from Spain and Portugal, the Portuguese Inquisition, the arrival in Oporto of an Ashkenazi community in the 19th and 20th centuries, the failed rescue attempt of the Bnei Anousim in the 1930s and the current flourishing of the Oporto Jewish community that is essentially composed of Sephardic families who for centuries lived in Balkan, Arab or Muslim countries.
The local Jewish community includes about 500 Jews originally from more than 30 countries and has a Beit Din, synagogues, mikvaot, kosher restaurants, a Jewish Museum, a Holocaust Museum of Oporto and cooperation protocols with the Israeli Embassy to Portugal, B’nai B’rith International, Keren Hayesod and the Anti-Defamation League.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit bnaibrith.org.