The Barbados National Trust (BNT) Open House program recently featured the island’s 1650s Jewish Synagogue and the Nidhe Israel Museum, which opened their doors to visitors and locals, who took the opportunity to explore the museum’s new artifacts, the newly restored synagogue, the graveyard, and the Mikvah—the Jewish ritual bath that is still fed by an underground spring.
Dr Penny Bowman explained the role of the Mikvah in the lives of Orthodox Jews, spoke about its rediscovery and told stories of modern day Jews who still visit the bath for ritual purity.
Dr Karl Watson lectured about the history of the island’s Sephardic Jews and their flight from Brazil in the 1600s, explaining that the Sephardic Jews who came to Barbados were descendants of those who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal in the very early 16th century. He also spoke about their role in the development of sugar production on the island.
Paul Altman, who was responsible for the restoration of the property, explained that his parents, grandparents, and other family members were buried in the graveyard, and spoke about the hitorical importance of the synagogue and museum: “The story that is told in the museum is the important story of what we have here; the story and the connection between the Jewish community and Barbados; the story of sugar, the story of trade and the fact that if we hadn’t captured that story and put it there for everyone to see, it would only be a story.” [For more on the restoration, see previous post Restoration of the Old Synagogue in Barbados.]
[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]
For full article, see http://www.nationnews.com/index.php/articles/view/jewish-flashback
Photo of the Jewish Museum and the Mikvah from http://barbados.org/barbados-jewish-museum.htm