Portuguese American Journal

Honor: Jewish community celebrates Aristides de Sousa Mendes – Los Angeles, CA

The Jewish community of Los Angeles, CA, will honor the life Aristides de Sousa Mendes with a series of memorial events to be held in January.

Sousa Mendes was the former Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux, France, who issued visas to WWII refugees, without regard to nationality or religion, saving thousands of lives including 10,000 Jews.

Beginning January 22, the celebrations will include an exhibition, a world premiere of an oratorio, film screenings and a memorial service.

Opening January 22 and continuing through March 1, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH), 100 S. The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, will present the exhibition “Visas to Freedom: Aristides de Sousa Mendes and the Refugees of World War II.” Admission is free.

On January 23, LAMOTH will host two film screenings starting with “With God Against Man” at 11 a.m.; and “Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story” screened at 2 p.m. Tickets for each of the screenings are available at the door.

Also on January 23, LAMOTH will host an evening memorial service and reception. Among the speakers will be Sebastian Mendes, a grandson of the diplomat; Lissy Jarvik, who received a life-saving visa in 1940, and LAMOTH executive director Samara Hutman. The event is by invitation only.

On January 24, starting at 3 p.m., the American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive in Bel Air, will host the world premiere of the oratorio “Circular 14: The Apotheosis of Aristides,” composed by Neely Bruce and produced by Marilyn Ziering. For tickets call (310) 440-1572, or access www.tiny.cc/smf. Tickets will directly benefit the Sousa Mendes Foundation.

The Sousa Mendes events in Los Angeles are scheduled to coincide with International Holocaust Memorial Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In addition, the year 2016 is significant as the 50th anniversary of Aristides de Sousa Mendes being recognized in 1966 as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” by Israel’s Holocaust authority, Yad Vashem. It is also significant as the 30th anniversary of his being recognized by the United States and Portuguese governments in 1986. The Los Angeles concert, exhibition, ceremony and film screenings are marking all three of these milestones.

Source: Sousa Mendes Foundation



Aristides de Sousa Mendes issued visas to thousands of WWII refugees against the Portuguese government orders for which he was recalled and subjected to disciplinary action by Oliveira Salazar, Portugal’s dictator. A father of 14 children, in 1954, Sousa Mendes died destitute and in obscurity. In 1966, Sousa Mendes was named “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem (the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Authority). In 1986, the U.S. Congress proclaimed Sousa Mendes a hero. In 1987, former Portuguese President Mário Soares offered an apology to the Sousa Mendes family in the name of the Portuguese Nation. In 1989 Sousa Mendes was recognized posthumously by the Portuguese Parliament with the rank of Ambassador.

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