The Brazilian community of descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews published the first ever Passover Haggadah, titled A Hagadá de Pêssach do Sertão for other Anousim in Hebrew, Portuguese and Portuguese transliteration.
“A self-aware, self-reliant and active community is vitally important for Jewish continuity,” said Ilana Kohler, editor of the Haggadah. “As the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews in Brazil are struggling to establish their own communities and live an open and full Jewish life, not forgetting their origins, this Haggadah is an important step towards not depending on other publications most of which do not follow the traditions of our ancestors.”
The Anousim community are the descendants of Jews forcibly converted by Spain and Portugal centuries ago.
“The illustrations also provide a taste of our country, with traditional Brazilian northeast relief painting, typical for the area of Sertão, a region of Northeast Brazil, where many Anousim settled," Kohler added.
The Haggadah includes many traditional Passover songs in Ladino, and follows the tradition of the Portuguese Amsterdam Hagadot, and was edited and produced by members of the Recife Sephardic Association. Recife is famous for having the first synagogue of the Americas and home to many descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition. The Haggadah is illustrated with traditional Brazilian relief printing art.
Ashley Perry (Perez), President of Reconectar, an organization whose goal is to reconnect the Anousim with the Jewish world, and assisted with the project, also spoke about the significance of the Haggadah.
“This Hagada is more than just a book that will be used by many Anousim on Pesach,” Perry said. “It is also representative of a massive awakening and self-sufficiency among Anousim who are keen to return to the traditions of their ancestors.”
“The traditions of their ancestors are alive and well in the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish tradition and it is very exciting for both our communities to reconnect with their roots. The Twenty-First Century is providing both the millions of Anousim and the Jewish world with an unprecedented opportunity to reconnect in a way impossible in previous generations and we dare not miss this opportunity."
"This is what we are trying to achieve at Reconectar and this Hagada is a testament to the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.”