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15 November 2010

The Jews of Aruba

As the Knowles Collection continues to grow, a few things are becoming very obvious. First, the family trees that are being donated from around the world continue to show how many of our families are related, and secondly, the Dutch had an incredible influence on Jewish migration, especially to pre- 1800 Caribbean countries.

Today I received a family tree that illustrates this. Within this tree the two most common surnames are Henriquez and Nassy. The majority of this tree is made up of families that eventually settled in Aruba, however neither family started there.
The Henriquez family left Holland, arrived in Curacao and eventually moved to Aruba. The Nassy family also left Holland and made there way to Curacao, however they then moved to Suriname before arriving in Aruba.

The history of Jewish life in Aruba dates to the early 1750's. At that time Moses Solomon Levie Maduro, a Sephardic Jew, received permission to move himself and his wife and six children from Curacao to Aruba. Other Jewish families followed, but never with the same amount of numbers as places like Curacao.
The modern day community received official recognition from the Dutch government on 1 Dec 1956 and opened their Synagogue, Beth Israel on 4 Nov 1962. In the 1920's a large group of Polish Jews arrived. The community may be small but now has over 250 years of history.

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