The Jewish community of Barbados celebrated a joyous milestone this year with the opening of the Nidhe Israel Museum, which overlooks the Jewish cemetery and historic Nidhe Israel Synagogue in Bridgetown.
The museum documents the contribution made by Jews to the island, one that set off profound ripples throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.
Barbados is home to the oldest synagogue in the Americas, built in 1654 by Sephardic Jews who were fleeing the Portuguese Inquisition in what was then Dutch-owned Recife. When they arrived on the island, they brought with them invaluable experience from 25 years of working on Brazilian sugar plantations. With their input, Barbados' production technologies exceeded those of any other sugar-producing island, enriching the country considerably.
There are only 16 Jewish families remaining in Barbados, but, says Altman, Friday night services are always augmented by Jews visiting from the world over. Many express an interest in holding their Jewish celebrations at the historic synagogue, and Altman is already making plans to acquire land alongside the cemetery and build a reception facility that will allow such functions to happen. (Source: Jewish Exponent)
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