Jews of Curacao

Under the title “An American Island, Which Is Almost a Jewish State,” the Spanish periodical “Nuestra Raza” (Our Race) publishes an article on the history of the Jewish community on the island of Curacao.

The author of this article, I. A. Pinos, cites several examples to show that by the introduction of the Inquisition in the Spanish American possessions, the latter were impoverished; whereas the hospitality which the Dutch government, owner of the island of of the Jewish community there, has helped to make the island prosperous and an important trading center.

“Do you know,” the article asks, “that for 400 years, over the whole of the American continent where Spain reigned, the Spanish Inquisition reigned too, and that the Jews created on a lone island a stronghold to which the persecuted Jews looked up as the Jerusalem of Spanish America, where they went in order to follow their religion, free and unhindered?”

The island which today bears the name of Curacao was formerly also known under the Dutch name of Jodenwijk (Jew Borough). It lies to the north of Venezuela and is only seventy kilometers (about forty miles) long and twenty-two kilometers (about thirteen miles) wide.

In 1634 the Dutch took the island from the Spaniards. The governor intended to make the island a Jewish colony. Besides land, the Jews were offered cattle, horses and even slaves. Sixteen years later, a dozen Jewish families were already settled on the island. The plans to found a Jewish rural colony failed, however, as the Jewish settlers took to commerce and trading.

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