Jewish heritage sites in the Caribbean


The Five Town Jewish Times, a news site providing news to a number of Jewish communities in Long Island, NY, has just published a travel piece identifying the most important Jewish Heritage sites in the Caribbean.

Curaçao boasts the region’s oldest synagogue in continuous use—Mikve Israel Synagogue, established in 1651. Its Jewish Cultural Historical Museum is home to a permanent collection of art and artifacts that includes the original Torah scroll brought to Curaçao in 1659. Blenheim Cemetery nearby is the oldest Jewish cemetery in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 5,000 buried on its grounds. In Nevis, travelers can walk through a walled-in Jewish cemetery dating back to February 1679. St. Thomas boasts the oldest synagogue in continuous use in a U.S. territory. Known as the Congregation of Blessings and Peace, the St. Thomas Synagogue was originally established in 1796 and was later rebuilt several times. The present synagogue was built in 1833 in the Sephardic style. There are additional sites in Barbados [see our post on the Restoration of the Old Synagogue in Barbados], Jamaica, Surinam, Aruba, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

For the article go to

Photo by Micha Bar-Am, Mordechai Arbell Collection, Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv

The photo shows the “Neve Shalom” synagogue in Paramaribo, Surinam, built in 1975. The sand on the floor reflects a custom of communities of “the Nation” (Spanish and Portuguese descent) in the Caribbean. Different explanations for this tradition include: to memorialize the wandering of the Jews in the desert; as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple and the Land of Israel—or perhaps just to prevent dampness and bugs.

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