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THE SEPHARDI JEWS OF BARBADOS (1627 – 1934) Reviewed by Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Thursday, April 27, 2023


Author: Simon Kreindler

ISBN: 978-0-9959294-1-8

Simon Kreindler’srecently published tome, THE SEPHARDI JEWS OF BARBADOS (1627 –1934), presents an all-encompassing account of the Sephardic Jewishcommunity that settled on the Caribbean island of Barbados, which,despite its petite size, played a pivotal role in the island’sgrowth and history.

For readers who are notaware of Barbados, it is a small island nation in the easternCaribbean Sea, initially occupied by Amerindians and later colonizedby the English in 1625. After three centuries as a British colony,Barbados gained independence in 1966.

Initially, the SephardicJews, hailed from the Iberian Peninsula and were forced to departduring the Spanish Inquisition in 1492. They found safe haven indifferent areas of the New World, including Barbados.

Kreindler, who spent hisformative years in Barbados, provides valuable insights into theexperiences and contributions of this community in his work, makingit a must-read for anyone interested in the Sephardic Jewishdiaspora.

The book is composed offifteen chapters, four appendices, a glossary, bibliography, index,and a conclusion that describes the author.

To say the book isfascinating is an understatement. It covers a wide range of topics,including the first Sephardim of Bridgetown, the Nidhe IsraelSynagogue, Speightown’s Sephardi Magnates, scholarly works createdby members of the Barbados Sephardi community, the clergy of NidheIsrael, the community’s philanthropy, its presence during the 18thand 19th centuries, its ultimate decline, the Baeza family, and thesale, reuse, rescue, and renovation of the synagogue.

One of the many sectionsthat caught my attention centers on the early Sephardic Jewishcommunity in Bridgetown. Archived documents suggest that the firstSephardic Jews arrived in Bridgetown in the mid-17th century afterthe British takeover of the island from the Dutch. These Jews arebelieved to have fled from Dutch Brazil, a place where many Jews hadpreviously lived, or possibly from Amsterdam. While the precisetimeline of the establishment of a Sephardic population in Barbadosis unclear, Jewish people or households began moving there fromAmsterdam or Brazil by the 1640s.

Another absorbing chapter focuses on the Nidhe Israel Synagogue. Kreindler challenges thecommonly held belief that the synagogue was constructed in 1654,citing a lack of evidence. Instead, Kreindler proposes it is morelikely that the synagogue was built in 1664, as there was noorganized Sephardi congregation in Bridgetown in 1654. To support hisargument, Kreindler cites several sources.

The chapter titled“Bridgetown’s Sephardi Magnates” references Martyn J. Bowden’sarticle “Houses, Inhabitants and Levies: Place for the SephardicJews of Bridgetown, Barbados 1679-1729” from the Journal of theBarbados Museum and Historical Society. Bowden refers to the periodof 1676-1689 as the “Golden Age of the Jewish Magnates,” and thechapter provides brief biographical information on some of theseindividuals. The next chapter, “Sephardi Magnates of Speightstown,”discusses the town on the northwestern coast of Barbados, which wasthe first landing place of the island’s first settlers and became abustling port with the development of sugar plantations. In the sameway as Bridgetown, the Sephardic Jewish community held a greatimportance in the town’s growth and legacy.

THE SEPHARDI JEWS OFBARBADOS (1627 – 1934)is without doubt an influential andwell-researched study that presents clear writing and is sustained bymultiple sources.

Moreover, the tomeencompasses several captivating photos that offer a vibrant andstirring addition to its tale, giving readers a deeper comprehensionof the Sephardim Jewish experience in Barbados.

Additionally, readers willalso find a helpful glossary to assist them in understandingunfamiliar terminology

In the end, we are leftwith a profound appreciation for the fortitude, inventiveness, andtoughness of this remarkable community. It is strongly recommendedfor individuals interested in Jewish history, the Caribbean, or theSephardic Jewish diaspora. We are reminded of the lingering impact ofthe Sephardim of Barbados, and their long-lasting contributions tothe quilt of Jewish life and culture.


 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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