As one looks at the settlers of some of the early American Jewish congregations, a few surprising things are found. Amongst the early communities such as Newport (Rhode Island), Charleston (South Carolina) and New Orleans, many of the people either came from or had roots to Curacao. These families, which included such names as Maduro, Peixotto, Naar and Seixas were very established Sephardic families.
What was it that made this small Caribbean island so special, and such an important early residence for Jews. In the late 1400's, Jews fled Spain and Portugal to avoid the Inquisition. Most went to places such as Amsterdam. Some of those who went to Amsterdam didn't stay long. They took passage on ships heading to Curacao, a Dutch-owned, Caribbean island.
Upon arrival in Curacao, they established their congregation in 1651. In 1732, they built Mikve Israel-Emanuel, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the western hemisphere. This Sephardic synagogue became their home, and over the years would influence so many American Jewish congregations.
The records of the Jews of Curacao, can be found in both The Jews of the Americas, or The Jews of the Caribbean.