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Stories from Curaçao’s Jewish History

Sunday, March 5 | 3:00 pm ET

Ronald Gomes Casseres

The tiny island of Curaçao, in the Caribbean Sea, is considered the cradle of Judaism in the Americas. The almost 400 years of Jewish presence in this island are exemplified by Mikvé Israel-Emanuel, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the continent.

The founders of this congregation were Jews from the Amsterdam Portuguese community, whose success allowed them to send money to help start other Sephardi communities in the Caribbean as well as provide support to Sephardic congregations in New York and Rhode Island. Today there are fewer than two hundred Jews living on the island, but in the early days there were more Jews in Curaçao than in all the rest of the Americas.

The history of Congregation Mikvé Israel-Emanuel in Curaçao will be told through stories of events that have formed the congregation and the broader Jewish community as they are today.

$18 Admission
Ronald Gomes Casseres
Ronald Gomes Casseres descends from Sephardic Jews who came to Curaçao in 1690. He was born on the Dutch Caribbean island where he is a leader of the historic Mikvé Israel-Emanuel community. Now retired from a long commercial banking career, one of his interests is the history of his Jewish community and its practices. He has been active in numerous organizations and institutions in Curaçao. He has published in local newspapers, in the local social-cultural Kristòf and archival Archiefvriend publications, in the American Jewish Archives Journal, in the congregational Bulletin and co-edited ‘Connecting the Lights’ with historical aspects of the Curaçao Jewish community on the occasion of Chanukah in 2016. He was awarded decorations by the Kingdom of the Netherlands for social and cultural contributions to the Curaçao community.

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