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A Hidden Jew's hagaddah


Over the years, the Passover hagaddah has become more than just a book used during Seder night; it has become something of a Jewish symbol.

One hagaddah which starkly testifies to this status was published in 1928 in the city of Porto in Portugal, under the name "Haggadah Shel Pessah Le'Anusim (The Hagaddah of the forcibly-converted Jews)." 

The Haggadah was published by one Arthur Carlos De Barros Basto, known by his Hebrew name: Avraham Israel Ben-Rosh (1887-1961).

The story of Ben-Rosh is fascinating in its own right. An officer in the Portuguese army, Basto was a hero of the 1910 revolution and the First World War. While in his adolescence, he discovered he was a descendant of the Anusim of Spain - Jews forcibly converted to Christianity during the Inquisition - and consequently sought to reconnect to his Jewish roots and traditions.

A Hidden Jew's hagaddah Kedem Auction House, Jerusalem

Ben-Rosh established a Jewish community and synagogue in his home town of Porto, and was the leader of the Anusim who returned to Judaism. In an incident which led some to dub him "the Portuguese Dreyfus", an anti-Semitic plot against him resulted in a show trial and dismissal from the army.

His name was cleared only relatively recently, restoring his rightful status as a hero in Portugal once again.

Ben-Rosh published the hagaddah for the benefit of the members of the community he established.