The Jews in the Caribbean

The Jews in the Caribbean
Author name: 
Jane Satlow Gerber
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Class Year: 

The Portuguese Jewish diaspora was born out of a double tragedy: the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and the forced conversion/expulsion of the Jews from Portugal in 1497. The potent combination of expulsion, the Inquisition, and crypto-Judaism left people neither wholly Jewish nor wholly Christian in their identity. Subsequently, many left the Iberian peninsula. Some found refuge in the Caribbean, and succeeded in maintaining strong connections with Portuguese Jews in Western Europe, the Ottoman empire, and the Far East, while they also forged ties with the surrounding peoples and cultures. This book looks at many different aspects of this complex past. Its interdisciplinary approach allows for a wealth of new information to be brought together to create a comprehensive picture. Part I of the book sets the context and also considers the relationship of Caribbean Jewry to European trading systems; its special ties to Amsterdam and Dutch-ruled Curacao; and the role of Jewish merchants in Jamaica's commerce. Part II examines the material and visual culture of Jews in the British and Dutch Caribbean, while Part III looks at Caribbean Jewish identity and heritage and their modern manifestations. Part IV contains archival studies that illuminate other subjects of importance - adventure and piracy, Jewish participation in a 19th-century revolt of black slaves and in the first Jamaican elections after Jews were granted the right to vote, and questions of concubinage and sexual relations between Jews and blacks. Part V moves from the local to the international, in particular the connection with mainland America. In their diversity, the contributions to this volume suggest the many ways in which the formation of the Caribbean Jewish diaspora can be understood today: as a Jewish diaspora dispersed under different European colonial empires; as a Jewish cultural entity created by a set of shared traditions and historical memories; and as one component in a web of relationships that characterized the Atlantic world. Defining it is no simple matter: like all diaspora identities, it was constantly in flux, reinventing itself under changing historical circumstances. *** "Highly recommended." - Choice, Vol. 51, No. 11, July 2014Ëœ