In the 1600's, the West Indies became a place of salvation for Sephardic Jews who had fled Amsterdam after the Spanish and Portugese (Catholic) Inquisitions. The Sephardic Jewish communities that settled in the Caribbean shaped the economy through their knowledge of sugar cane agriculture and trade. While they prospered, they helped fuel the success of the American revolution, and finance the first synagogues in the United States.
Award-winning photographer Wyatt Gallery has cataloged a photographic essay of these first Jewish communities established in the New World dating back to the 1600's in Jewish Treasures of The Caribbean: The Legacy of Judaism in the New World. It's really a remarkable book, published by Schiffer Publishing, with brilliantly vivid photographs of synagogues and cemeteries on Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Eustatius, and Suriname, with histories written by Stanley Mirvis, PhD. Let's take a look inside some of these gorgeous structures:
Tebah and Sand Covered Floor, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, Willemstad, Curaçao - 1732
Hechal and Torah Scrolls, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Paramaribo, Suriname - 1837
Tallis Hanging Over the Tebah, Shaare Shalom Synagogue, Kingston, Jamaica - 1913
Tebah and Sand Covered Floor, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Paramaribo, Suriname - 1719/1835
Bible and Leather Chairs, Shaare Shalom Synagogue, Kingston, Jamaica - 1913
Gate With Ten Commandments, Jewish Cemetery, Oranjestad, St. Eustatius
Once home to thousands, these historic communities are now on the verge of extinction. Only five of the synagogues featured in the book remain in use, and many of the cemeteries have been damaged or were completely lost due to natural disasters, vandalism and pollution. However, through the pages of Jewish Treasures of The Caribbean: The Legacy of Judaism in the New World, the culture, religion, customs, and empiracle history of the La Nacion (as the Sephardic Jews were called) can live on for future generations.
A beautiful book, I highly recommend you take a closer look at via the Amazon link below: